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Free As A Bird
Written by John Lennon
Beatles version by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr
Released on Anthology 1 album, Free As A Bird single

Recording sessions

John's home, New York, USA - circa 1977
Mill Studios, Sussex, England - February 11 to early March, 1994


"Free As A Bird" was the first song to be recorded or overdubbed by the remaining Beatles.

The first recording session spanned over February 11 towards the end of the month. In the first reunion session, the three Beatles worked on this song at Paul's Mill Studios in Sussex, England, adding new instruments and vocals onto the 48-track analogue tapes prepared by Jeff Lynne the previous month. George's blues slide guitar riff, George and Paul's acoustic guitars, Paul's bass guitar and piano, Ringo's drums and new vocals by Paul, George and Ringo are added to John's vocal and piano on tape. As Paul recalled, "I fell in love with "Free As A Bird". I thought I would have loved to work with John on that. I like the melody, it's got strong chords and it really appealed to me. Ringo was very up for it and George was very up for it."

However, the demo version was not in complete form, as George recalled, "Because it was only a demo, he was just plodding along and in some places, he'd quicken up and in some places he'd slow down." So Paul had an idea. "John hadn't filled in the middle eight section of the demo," Paul said, "so we wrote a new section for that, which, in fact, was one of the reasons for choosing the song. It allowed us some input."

After the song's ending, there is a piece of music attached to it. This piece was actually recorded by George on guitar during this two-week session.

John wrote Free As A Bird to express his delight at being set free from the demands of celebrityhood and from the artistic pressure of having to compete with his earlier selves. The line "Whatever happened to/The life that we once knew?" shows his reminiscent of the belief in his past (in songs like "Help!" And "Strawberry Fields Forever"). Paul extended this line to turn the meaning into loging for healed relationships between him and John.
The Beatles Studio