First Hit #1: June 13, 1970
The Long and Winding Road was controversial at the time, mostly because Paul McCartney hated what Phil Spector did to it. I can see his point, there is a lot of crap piled on here, with orchestras, choirs and other instruments slapped on a track that probably doesn’t need them. It does make it sound somewhat cheesy, and while the piano and McCartney’s voice cut through the extra nonsense the extra sound doesn’t really add much. It’s not as good as it could be, I’ll agree, but it’s not quite the band-ending disaster McCartney claimed it was. It’s just a song that needed a bit of work, and the person hired to work on it wasn’t well suited to the operation. In all honesty, I’d argue that this is one of the few cases where the band on record wasn’t really into it, something Spector tried to hide by just piling on crap. Underneath Spector’s shiny coat of paint, we can hear a band that doesn’t really want to be together – McCartney’s singing is far from polished, Lennon’s bass is bad enough that it needs to be hidden, and nobody is doing as well as they should have been. What we’re hearing is a band that doesn’t want to be in the studio together, even though they’re recording what has the bones of a good song. We’re also hearing a crazy man trying to hide that, which actually makes it a bit worse than it could be.
That said, even as the band was in a well documented decline, For You Blue is a bit of fun that can make you forget that. It’s a bit of a goofy blues stomp, and it sounds like something pounded out to ease the tension between band members. You can hear a group having a great time recording what amounts to a silly song, but it’s really great silly song. In a way it’s the opposite of the Long and Winding Road, since while that might be a great song hidden under bad mojo, this is a goofball song brought to another level by a group who sounds thrilled to be playing it. They might have been on the decline as a band, but they could crank it out when they wanted to.