Long, Long, Long - The Beatles

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"Long, Long, Long" - The Beatles (1968)

Written by George Harrison, “Long, Long, Long” is essentially a love song although in the unique Harrison style it is ambiguous as he could be singing either to his lady or to his Lord. On a deeper level, it is a yearning, beautiful song about the happiness that letting God into his life has given Harrison.

Says music critic Nicholas Schaffner:

“George’s music works best when soft and sweet, when it caresses and envelops his listeners like fine Indian silk. When he tones his voice down to an ethereal near-whisper, as in this song, he can evoke as well as anyone the magic and the mystery of the music of deep silence.”

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack remarks that musically, “Long, Long, Long”  is “an off-beat mixture of styles typical of the times: a three-way cross between jazz waltz, folk song, and late sixties psychedelia.”

Commenting on the music, Terence O’Grady wrote that the recording exhibits an elegantly simple waltz melody in the verse with a more overtly rock-styled bridge recalling the early Beatles in it use of vocal harmony.

He adds:

“The track is followed by a few seconds of rasping, grating mechanical sounds along with ethereal organ sounds and vocal wails suggesting that Harrison too was reluctant to surrender all the trappings of the Beatles’ experimental period.”

The Beatles seem to have sensed that what on one level appears to be merely unintended, unconscious, and lacking in purpose, is, on another level, actually no different from what is conscious, intended, and purpose-driven. They often incorporated mere coincidences, accidents, and outright mistakes into their finished work, thus implying that what is merely accidental, purposeless, and unconscious, is really the same as what is intended, i.e., purposeful.

Author David Quantick reveals how this occurred on “Long, Long, Long”.

“The song wafts by in a melancholy fashion until it suddenly breaks into a powerful moment of release and ends with a moment of serendipity almost too well-known to write about. An empty wine bottle on top of McCartney’s Hammond organ starts to wobble, and the players take the sound and enfold it into the song. McCartney playing ghostly chords, Harrison wailing softly, and Starr mimicking the bottle’s rattling with the drums. It’s a perfect moment in one of the White Album’s least known corners.”

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