Did you know that in February/March of 1994 - as part of 'The Beatles Anthology' documentary series/box set - Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr got together to complete two demos that John Lennon had left behind after his death, and then released them in '95 as the first new 'Beatles' songs in 25 years?!
As Yoko Ono recalls, it was George Harrison and Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall's idea to complete the Lennon demos for this 'Anthology' project, and she gave John's remaining cassettes to Paul when he went to New York to induct Lennon into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
George Martin, who famously produced most of the Beatles catalogue, had to turn down an invite to get back behind the glass for this session, citing his problems with hearing loss at the time, so Traveling Wilburys/Electric Light Orchestra member Jeff Lynne (who had just produced Harrison's very successful 'Cloud Nine' in 1987) filled that role.
From there, the remaining members of the 'Fab Four' were off to the races!
On 'Free As A Bird', the lead single of the 'Anthology' three-volume set, all that Lennon had recorded was a piano/vocal track, so McCartney, Harrison, and Starr had a bit of work cut out for them to turn it into a full band composition, but they reportedly agreed they would pretend that John had just "gone for lunch" or "for a cup of tea" while they were in the studio, and had a very pleasurable session because of it!
It's an absolutely beautiful final product, in my opinion, and made even better knowing the backstory and subtleties to it, such as: Lennon's original demo featuring the lyric, “What ever happened to, the life that we once knew….” followed by some humming (as he hadn't finished writing the song yet) and Paul McCartney completing the lyric to be, “What ever happened to, the life that we once knew….can we really live without each other?” - heartbreaking, but moving stuff.
'Real Love' is another gorgeous track, but one that the remaining Beatles admitted they didn't feel like they had much "input on", as John's demo and arrangement for that was much closer to completion and they just filled in some blanks….
If you're a Beatles fan, you probably knew all of this, and are wondering why I decided to randomly blog it today, but I just figured there's probably a ton of Stoolies who didn't know about these gems, and should.
Check em out if you're one of those people!