The Beatles - Real Love [Single/Album Version]Details

"A year after realising Free As A Bird, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr completed a second unfinished John Lennon recording, adding new vocal and instrumental tracks to strengthen and enrich the orginal sound from John's cassette. Real love and care was invested and fine is the result."
Author Unknown (1995 liner notes for Real Love CD single)

"One of the two (so far) collaborations with demo tapes from Lennon's collection, Real Love is taken from one of two versions recorded under adverse conditions by John at his home in New York City. The song was produced by Jeff Lynne, whose guitar is actually heard during the final chorus of the song. Harrison, McCartney and Starr contributed backing instrumentation and vocals. The addition of a stand-up bass, played by McCartney, has some historical significance. The bass belonged to Bill Black, one of the instrumentalists for Elvis Presley on Heartbreak Hotel; this song was the prime mover for both Lennon and McCartney, inspiring both to pursue rock and roll. [...] The Real Love single was [delayed from its original release date], in this case, solely due to art changes. Capitol had originally planned the disc to be released on February 5, in another attempt at tying a new Beatles single in the Valentine's Day holiday... But, again, in mid-January, Apple decided to take a second look at the artwork. 'The sleeve had their four faces on it,' Apple's Derek Taylor tells GDS. 'They wanted to think about adding more, like a montage, but eventually we went back to the original.' The final art features a cool, rarely seen photo taken by photographer Robert Whitaker (the same fellow who would, less than a year later, photograph The Beatles holding broken dolls, mean and a few eyeballs), taken in late 1965, during the Rubber Soul era. Interestingly, the picture, as are many in the current campaign, has been touched up. Record dealer Gary Hein notes, 'The picture had been published quite a while ago. If you've seen the original, Paul, Ringo and John are each holding cigarettes!' Indeed, a good look at the photo shows a few ciggie-holding positions in the hands. Now we have a nice, clean, tobacco-free Beatles ('Smokeless Fabs?')! Though the commercial single would not meet its Valentine's Day deadline, Capitol still managed to avoid letting a good idea go to waste, issuing the single to radio on February 8, in time to meet the February 14 air date premiere. (A few stations couldn't hold their horses and leaked airplay a few days earlier on Saturday). Though the art wasn't available then for a commercial picture sleeve, Art Director Rick Ward did fashion a unique symbol for the single: a red, heart-shaped Apple, which appeared as the backdrop for the radio single's inlay card, and on all the promotional material for the song. The Valentine idea went ahead, for promotional use, in some inventive ways. Both [in the US] and in England, Capitol and EMI used the occasion to honor each nation's 'Top Ten Real Lovers.' Each couple was sent on February 12 a copy of the Real Love DPRO promotional single (ahead of everybody else-- hmmph!) In America, the list included Kim Basinger & Alec Baldwin, Bruce & Patti Springsteen, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver and Rosanne and 'What's His Name'... In Britain, a similar list was prepared, though most of the names are lost on Americans, well-watched Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley being the exceptions. On the internet, Capitol had another of their fun websites set up, both for the Anthology 2 album and for Real Love, which allowed one to send a friend (or yourself, for that matter!) a nice Real Love Valentine greeting card. The theme was an appropriate one. 'The only 4-letter word they ever said in any of their songs was 'love.'' Apple (and Macca) publicist Geoff Baker told GDS. 'If you think about it, the word 'love' appears in only 10 of their song titles, but the actual vibe permeates just about every one.' Well put. The commercial single was released to stores a few weeks later on March 5, in CD-5 and cassette single, as well as 50,000 7-inch vinyl singles, with picture sleeve. The 4-track CD Maxi-single contains 3 great B-sides (chalk up another one for the 'value for the dollar,' boys)... Real Love got off to a good start, or so it seemed, being the 'most-added' single to AAA radio during its debut the week of released. The single debuted at No. 11 in the U.S., falling ot No. 26 the following week, and lower still thereafter. But why? Most fans consider the song to be 'more Beatle-y' than Free As A Bird, so why wasn't it a big hit? Part of the problem was the difficulty EMI and Capitol had in getting and keeping the song on the air. In Britain, BBC's Radio One decided not to play Real Love, creating somewhat of a 'national uproar,' to the point that House of Commons member Harry Greenway instigated an investigation into whether the matter represented 'censorship!' The network decided that their audience 'wouldn't be interested,' that a Beatles song was of no interest to younger listeners, be it a great recording or not. In other words, the broadcaster decide whether the listeners would like the song before letting the listeners decide whether they liked it. 'With as popular as Paul Weller and Oasis are,' said an Apple spokesman, 'which are very Beatle-influenced, it doesn't make sense to say that the kids aren't interested in hearing a new Beatles record.' Whether they heard the song on the radio or not, did get to see the wonderful video for the song, co-directed by Kevin Godley and Beatles Anthology director Geoff wonfor, who, we're told, photographed the group at Paul's studio, The Mill, recording the song... The film, one should note, was not the same version that appeared in The Beatles Anthology ABC broadcast. That version was a 'rough' edit prepared especially for the broadcast, as the final version was not completed by that time. Godley received comments from the three Fabs and went back and continued work on the film, which was completed for the single's release. The 'new and improved' version features not only more recording footage, but also clips of all four Beatle couples, including a wonderful shot of the rarely-seen-together George and Olivia Harrison (the 'quiet wife'), the two smiling for the cameras out of a window at Friar Park. A rare treat, and a great touch to add to an already great film. The video premiered in the U.S. on ABC's Good Morning America on Valentine's Day, and it began airing on MTV six days later on February 20 (it premiered in Britain on February 26)."
D.L. MacLaughlan (August 1996 - Good Day Sunshine #80)

"Around December 1994 [Marc Mann began work on the second Beatle reunion track]. Sworn to secrecy ('I couldn't even tell my wife!'), Mann began working with Lynne on the recording[s]. 'We had about two weeks, as Jeff was going in January [of 1995] back to England to work with the guys again, so we had to work fast,' he says. The main goal for the work was to assemble a ready-to-record basic track for the group to work to. 'We needed to do enough things to it so that the rest of the group could say, Yes, we can record this,' notes Mann. This meant improving the sonic quality of the original tape, as well as 'steadying' the tempo, to make a consistent beat, as well as, again, emphasizing Lennon's vocal above the piano. 'It's a very natural thing,' says Mann, 'for somebody just sitting at a piano or a guitar and singing into a tape recorder to play in an uneven tempo; there's no drummer or metronome to help keep time. But one of Jeff's production goals was to have a really steady, strong tempo.' Oddly enough, the first song the two tackled was Now And Then, not Real Love, the song ultimately released. 'The thing about Real Love was that when John recorded it, he must have used a multi-track cassette recorder, because he double-tracked the vocal in spots, and also added a tambourine,' Mann explains. Lynne had decided ahead of time that from a production standpoint, Real Love would be a problem, since it would be impossible to eliminate the tambourine from the track. It was difficult enough to manipulate the recording to de-emphasize the piano from the recording using changes in equalization, but a ratty percussion instrument just made things that much more difficult. ...The piano [heard] thoughout the majority of Real Love is John's. So Lynne assumed, for the moment, that Real Love would be set aside, perhaps not even used, due to its problematic nature. [...] As mentioned, most of the two weeks available for this prep work was spent on Now And Then. But what about Real Love? 'As we were finishing up the first song,' says Mann, 'we were very excited, saying to ourselves, Yes, this is working! We got it! The funny thing is, though, Jeff had only told me there was one song to work on. So he says, We've got a couple of days left, let me play you this other one that I didn't think we'd be able to do anything with because it had tambourine on it.' He played the song for Mann, who was ecstatic. 'But I don't think we can do anything with it because of the tambourine,' Lynne insisted. 'Let me try,' suggested Mann. So in two days, before Jeff left for London, Mann and Lynne 'burned the midnight oil,' as it were, and completed getting Real Love for The Beatles to record and, eventually, release. ...The two worked 'round the clock preparing Real Love, again to make it 'record ready.' 'We tried various things, like we pulled the intro from the middle section of the song and put it up front, because it was a better intro,' says Mann. The song also did not have a real ending, so Marc suggested, 'What if we take a chorus out of the song and create a vamp chorus to fade out at the end, alternating every other line that John sang in the song? Jeff said, Well, try it. So I did it, we tried it, and he liked it.' The wonders of modern software. One noticeable quality that Real Love has to most listeners is that it 'sounds fast.' Is it? 'The problem is that no two cassette recorders on earth run at the same speed,' explains Mann. 'So the one John recorded his original song on was running at a slightly-- very slightly-- different speed than the one we were using.' Cassette recorders run at a speed which is, at best, 1/8 the speed of a professional multi-track tape recorder-- 1 7/8 inches per second vs. 15 inches per second (and many producers prefer to run their professional machines at a higher speed, 30 ips). At that slow speed, even the slightest amount of speed difference is noticeable. So why not just leave the song at the speed at which it was recorded? The problem is that other musicians were going to have to play to it. If the song, when played back on another cassette machine, was, perhaps 1/8 of a tone above what is considered 'in tune,' it would require that all the other instruments be retuned so that they would be in tune with the tape. Not a big deal for a four-string bass, but when Paul McCartney is trying to play a grand piano at the recording, it can make life difficult; they're not so easy to tune. So a decision had to be made: tune the song down a fraction of a tone, or tune it up a fraction of a tone? 'There's an unusual thing that the ear can tell,' explains Marc. 'Even if we had adjusted the pitch digitally in the computer, which would have enabled us to keep the tempo the same as he had recorded it, the listener would detect a change in the timbre of John's voice that would appear as sounding slow.' Lynne and Mann found that when adjusting down to pitch, the change was more noticeable than when adjusting up to pitch, so the decision was made to go upwards, making the slightly fast-sounding voice that we hear. After the prep work was completed, Real Love, like its [Now And Then/Miss You] counterpart, was transferred to a two-track tape with a click track and sent off to England along with Jeff Lynne. Lynne and Beatles worked together through January and February, and, after doing some initial tracking, the song came back to Lynne and Marc Mann's hands for some additional digital editing before it was finally completed by the group. So how does Marc feel about the final product? 'When it was first broadcast in November, I turned into a fan-- I turned off the phones and everything and just listened to the final product like everybody else did. It was very exciting,' he says. 'I think the technology was a nice enabler, but what really made this possible was the fact that there was some healing between them all, to a point where there was some completion. When we were working on it, Jeff and I knew, it was a neat feeling. We both knew, This is not for us. It's for them. So the way I look at it is that it was a way of John actually bringing the guys back together again, to heal old wounds and make all so they could actually feel better about the whole thing.' Just like something John would do, isn't it."
Matt Hurwitz (August 1996 - Studio Magic: Turning Lost Lennon Tapes Into Beatle Treasure article in Good Day Sunshine #80)

"Real Love, to me, is more of a Beatles song [than Free As A Bird]. There was more of a feel of The Beatles. I just didn't feel it as much with Free As A Bird. I think if they were going to put a single out first as 'The Beatles,' I would have gone with Real Love. That definitely had more of a sound of the four of them of the early days."
May Pang (August 1996 - Good Day Sunshine #80)

"On their second single Real Love, Jeff was again facing problems with the quality of the tape. Jeff recalls: 'The problem I had with Real Love was that not only was there a 60 cycles mains hum going on, there was also a terrible amount of hiss, because it had been recorded at a low level. I don't know how many generations down this copy was, but it sounded like at least a couple. So I had to get rid of the hiss and the mains hum, and there were clicks all the way through it. When we saw the graph of it on the computer, there were all these spikes happening at random intervals throughout the whole song. There must have been about a 100 of them. We'd spend a day on it, then listen back and still find, loads more things wrong. But we could magnify them, grab them and wipe them out. That took about a week to clean up before it was even usable and transferable to a DAT master. Putting fresh music to it was the easy part!'"
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 - Unexpected Messages)

"Paul McCartney: 'We didn't do much... until February 95, when we went back into Mike's studio with Real Love.' Ringo Starr: 'Well, Real Love's poppy. Uh... It's more of a poppy song. It was... It was more difficult actually, because we'd already done it. So now we're doing it again, so y'know, for me it was more difficult to turn it into a real Beatle track.' Paul McCartney: 'The thing for me that was not quite as much fun in the recording of Real Love was that it was finished. It had all the words and music. So I didn't really get to input which... like the three of us had been able to input on Free As A Bird. So it made it more like a Beatles session. This was, like, more like we were side men to John. Which was joyful. It was good fun. And I think we did a good job.' Jeff Lynne: 'And I was like this... I wasn't even a fly on the wall, I was a fly in the middle of the room, y'know. The desk... Oh, it was great! This is... I mean, it's beyond me wildest dreams to have actually sat with the three of 'em. Very few people have, I think. And to be making a record with 'em. It was just... it was astonishing.'"
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr & Jeff Lynne (circa 1996 - Recording Free As A Bird and Real Love special feature from The Beatles Athology Special Features DVD)

"Lynne was invited back to McCartney's studio in February 1995 to produce the Beatles' follow-up single Real Love."
Kristofer Engelhardt (1998 - Beatles Undercover)

"It's a lovely song, yeah. It's a... It's a very optimistic song. And, um... Well, actually it wasn't at all finished, it was actually... it was in worse condition than Free As A Bird, the tape. And then I took it all to computer, uh, Marc Mann, my friend who's a computer expert worked together. It took a week to get all the noises off, just the vocal track and piano. The vocal and the piano are sort of stuck together in mono. And then we had to get all the noises off. It was like about ten passes to get different noises out with this new special technique of computer."
Jeff Lynne (October 1998 - interview with Mark Copolov on 88.3 Southern FM Australia)

"As Lynne speaks today, the gold and platinum awards for the recordings he produced with the three surviving Beatles for their popular Anthology series-- Free As A Bird and Real Love-- have pride of place on the walls of his home studio."
David Wild (2000 liner notes for Flashback)

"Yeah, I think [my father was happy with how Free As A Bird and Real Love turned out.] He definitely was. Considering what they were working with, in terms of the material they had left to work with after John left, which was really scratchy, the way it turned out was great. Jeff Lynne did a great job on that."
Dhani Harrison (November 19, 2002 - MSN Webchat)

"To further enhance this ambitious [Anthology] project it was decided to release two new Beatles singles. [Editor's Note: actually it was decided to release three new Beatles singles, but this was scaled back to two only due to technical and creative issues.] These were to be taken from some demo records, which John Lennon had made in the 1970s. It was George who originally thought of the three surviving Beatles utilising a recording by John. George also engaged Jeff Lynne to record the numbers using 48-track technology. Two of the numbers, Free As A Bird and Real Love were selected for George, Paul and Ringo, who the media now referred to as 'The Threetles', to record. The first to be released was Free As A Bird, the first new Beatles single since 1970. This was followed by Real Love, issued in March 1996. On the recording, Paul used a stand-up double bass originally used by Elvis Presley's bassist, the late Bill Black. Both Paul and George used six-string acoustic guitars to augment the electric instruments and Ringo used a Ludwig drum kit. [...] 7 February [1995]: George, Paul and Ringo continue recording from John Lennon's demo tape of Real Love, a number that George prefers to Free As A Bird. [...] 15 May [1995]: George, Paul and Ringo gather at Paul's studio for further work on Real Love. [...] 16 May [1995]: George, Paul and Ringo complete the recording of Real Love and George makes it plain that he doesn't want to be involved in any other Beatles reunion recording sessions."
Bill Harry (2003 - The George Harrison Encyclopedia)

"Completed by the so-called Threetles, Free as a Bird and Real Love were greeted with mixed reviews and controversy. BBC Radio 1 refused to add Real Love to its playlist, saying the song did not meet its young target demographic."
Rip Rense (August 21, 2005 - One More Beatles Song, or Should They Just Let It Be? in The Washington Post)

"The second 'new' song, Real Love, is better, and its strong pop-melodic qualities are obviously closer to George's own muse. Once again Harrison's guitar is prominent and, unexpectedly, his Stratocaster unveils a completely new tone that has more in common with Eric Clapton than Carl Perkins. On [Real Love] his notes swoop and soar with a new vitality, and reveal an almost subconscious empathy with Lennon's music. It is a vital, powerful performance. [...] Even the 'new' Beatles recordings for Free as a Bird and Real Love were essentially acoustic, with electric guitars used only for Harrison's potent solos."
Simon Leng (April 1, 2006 - While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison)

"[Jeff Lynne] even ended up replacing George Martin as the Beatles producer for the final singles Free as a Bird and Real Love. If the Beatles can place this much trust in Lynne and believe in his music, why are they still in the ghetto marked Guilty Pleasures?"
Alan McGee (October 16, 2008 - The Guardian)

Tom Petty, Olivia Harrison, Dhani Harrison and Paul McCartney:

"Tom: I don't think those records, the Free As A Bird record and Real Love-- I think you really needed him... They really need him to pull that off because it was such a major job, you know, to take that really shaky cassette recording of John...

Olivia: Well, I think, you know, Jeff was in a perfect position, really, to produce those, Free As A Bird and Real Love. You know, he again had the right sensibilities. He wasn't going to take it somewhere completely different. And he had the respect for what they wanted to do, obviously.

Dhani: I think my dad brought Jeff in. I think that was a bit 'ooh!' Everyone's going, 'Whoa, what's going on here?' And, you know, he was the only one that could have done that at the time. His meticulous nature, they didn't have Pro Tools, you know. They were aggregate time clocks for the John Lennon piano track and they had to phase out the vocals and float back in... I mean, it was just right down Jeff's street, you know, and what they were left with as Real Love and Free As A Bird which, you know, they stand the test of time. They sound like The Beatles, but it's, you know, Jeff was perfect for that role.

Paul: If we didn't like it, it didn't matter if John Lennon wrote it or Paul McCartney or George Harrison wrote it. If we didn't like it-- no. We go, 'Forget it, I'll think of something else.' It kept you on your meddle, you'll get it chucked out. You know, that's good. But there were three that we liked, Free As A Bird and Real Love, so those are the two that we did. And there was another one that we started working on, but George went off it. [George said,] 'What's that? It's fucking rubbish, this is.' [I responded,] 'No, George, this is John.' [He groused,] 'This is fucking rubbish.' [So I said,] 'Oh, okay then.' [Laughs] So that one's still lingering around, so I'm going do it. Jeff will do it, finish it one of these days."

Tom Petty, Olivia Harrison, Dhani Harrison and Paul McCartney (Summer 2012 - Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO documentary)

"Speaking of the Fab Four, it was Lynne who was called when the surviving members reunited to record John Lennon's Real Love and Free as a Bird for inclusion in the mid-'90s Anthology series. The story of the grueling effort to record the latter song is among the [Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO] movie's highlights."
Erik Pedersen (September 13, 2012 - Hollywood Reporter)

"In 1994, Lynne was asked by Harrison to help restore some of John Lennon s original studio material to be used on The Beatles Anthology album series. Demos for Lennon s songs Free As A Bird and Real Love were both digitally processed and Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney s parts were overdubbed, resulting in a virtual Beatles reunion."
Kayla Roth (2012 - South Central Music Bulletin Volume XI, Numbers 1-2 (Fall 2012 Spring 2013))

"But if I had to pick [a favorite production] it would be the two Beatle tracks that we made into records from John's original cassette-- Free As A Bird and Real Love. Technically that was the most daunting and physically impossible thing to do, but we got it done somehow, so that was great. It was just really hard to make those songs be something that they shouldn't have been. They were done as little demos, and the piano was stuck to John's voice, so you can't even raise his voice without the piano coming up. Then there was the problem of timing. The meter was not right for anybody to play to. What I did was measure the speed at the beginning, the middle and the end and just do an average, and that's the speed we used for them. I'm most proud of those tracks, because it was the hardest thing I had to do. Plus, I was working with The Beatles, who hadn't been in the same room for over 20 years. But it was actually marvelous."
Jeff Lynne (January 2013 - Goldmine magazine)

"Even at the time, being an ELO fan wasn't easy. My dad, and other serious music heads of his generation, dismissed ELO and mere Beatles copyists. Of course, The Beatles themselves took a more positive view: John Lennon called them 'Son of The Beatles', and the other three members would later collaborate with Lynne several times, even bring him in to be George Martin's stunt double by completing production of the unreleased demos Free As A Bird and Real Love."
Simon Price (September 16, 2014 - The Quietus article entitled The Jesus Of Uncool Has Risen: ELO Live)

"Not only has he produced solo work for Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, Lynne was behind the boards for the Beatles final 'new' hit records: Free as a Bird and Real Love, painstakingly recorded around existing Lennon demo tracks in honor of the Beatles massive Anthology releases in the 1990s. (The singles reached No. 6 and No. 11 on the Billboard singles chart, respectively.)"
Andrew Barker (April 23, 2015 - Variety)

"There was a particular problem with Real Love, as they discovered a sixty-cycle mains hum going on throughout as well as a large amount of hiss. It had, after all, been recorded at a low level and what they had was probably a second- or third-generation copy on cassette. Once both hiss and mains hum had been purged, they found there were audible clicks all the way through. Viewing the graph of it on the computer screen, there were spikes occurring at random intervals throughout the song. They would spend a day working on it, then listen back, and still find many more problems. [Presumably Jeff Lynne stated:] 'But we could magnify them, grab them and wipe them out. It didn t have any effect on John s voice, because we were just dealing with the air surrounding him, in between phrases. That took about a week to clean up before it was even usable and transferable to a DAT master. Putting fresh music to it was the easy part!' Free As A Bird, however, wasn t a quarter as noisy as Real Love and only a bit of EQ was needed to cure most problems. [...] Paul did not play his Hofner violin bass on the recording, preferring instead a five-string on Free As A Bird, and his double bass, originally owned by Elvis Presley s bassist Bill Black, on Real Love. George used two of his Stratocasters, a modern one, and his psychedelic Strat that's jacked up for the bottleneck stuff on Free As A Bird. They also both played six-string acoustic guitars, Paul a Gibson jumbo and George a Martin, and Ringo his Ludwig drum kit, so there are genuine Beatles drums on there. [...] Free As A Bird appeared on Anthology 1 in November 1995, and Real Love on its successor four months later. Both songs were also released as singles around the same time. [...] Expectations were thus somewhat lowered in spring the following year, when Real Love hit the shops as the very last new Beatles single. Arguably a stronger song than its precursor, it was pointedly excluded from the Radio 1 playlist, and entered the charts at No. 4 but was gone within a few weeks."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"Particularly revealing [in the Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO documentary] is how Harrison, McCartney, and Starr sometimes struggled with Lynne during the 1994 Anthology sessions, and the challenges Lynne faced in transforming Lennon's rough demos of Free as a Bird and Real Love into full-fledged songs."
Kit O'Toole (September 26, 2015 - Something Else! website review of Live In Hyde Park)

"There's no doubting that the surviving Beatles themselves were responding to Lynne's obvious devotion when they hired him in the mid-'90s to produce Real Love and Free as a Bird, two ostensibly new Beatles songs using archived vocals by John Lennon."
Mikael Wood (October 31 2015 - L.A. Times)

"This song was also included on the cassette that Yoko gave Paul on January 1994, following John's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unlike Free As A Bird, this composition was at a more advanced stage and is therefore credited to John, rather than The Beatles collectively. According to Jeff Lynne, the original piano and drum machine demo that John had recorded at home in the Dakota needed a lot of technical work before the remaining Beatles could develop it further. During the recording at Paul's studio in Sussex, he played electric bass as well as the double bass originally used by Bill Black on Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel. Linda had given the instrument to Paul as a present. Real Love, which was included on the album, was released to coincide with Anthology 2. Geoff Wonfor and Kevin Godley, who was a member of 10cc and later became the one of the UK's leading pop-promo makers, directed the accompanying video. Wonfor, the director of the Anthlogy documentary, filmed The Beatles recording in the studio and Godley combined this with archive footage of the band, adding some animated sequences as well as film he shot in 1995. This clip appeared in the special features section of The Beatles Anthology boxed set when it was released on DVD in 2003."
Unknown (November 6, 2015 - 1+ liner notes)

"Less than four months after the release of Free as a Bird, the first new Beatles song in 25 years, the world got a follow-up. On March 4, 1996, the Beatles released Real Love, in which Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr once again overdubbed themselves onto an old John Lennon demo. The song had already been heard the previous November, when it aired at the end of the second episode of the Anthology documentary. And one of Lennon's takes on the song, with just guitar and vocals, appeared on the soundtrack of the Imagine: John Lennon documentary. The Beatles' version, which opens Anthology 2, which was released two weeks later, was built off a Lennon recording captured on a small cassette recorder featuring him on piano. As with Free as a Bird, producer Jeff Lynne had his work cut out for him. 'The problem I had with Real Love was that not only was there a 60 cycles mains hum going on, there was also a terrible amount of hiss [on the tape], because it had been recorded at a low level,' he explained to Sound on Sound. 'I don't know how many generations down this copy was, but it sounded like at least a couple. So I had to get rid of the hiss and the mains hum, and then there were clicks all the way through it. ... We'd spend a day on it, then listen back and still find loads more things wrong. But we would magnify them, grab them and wipe them out. It didn't have any effect on John's voice, because we were just dealing with the air surrounding him, in between phrases. That took about a week to clean up before it was even usable.' Once a master copy was completed, McCartney, Harrison and Starr overdubbed their parts onto it in February 1995 at McCartney's studio in Sussex, England. Lynne noted that, despite the decades that had passed since their last recording together, very little had changed. 'Paul and George would strike up the backing vocals, and all of a sudden it's the Beatlets again,' he said. 'To be there in the middle of all this, and have a degree of responsibility over the result, was astonishing. It wasn't some kind of fake version, it really was the real thing. They were having fun with each other and reminding each other of the old times. I'd be waiting to record and normally I'd say, Okay, let's do a take,' but I was too busy laughing and smiling at everything they were talking about.' Real Love hit No. 11 in the U.S. and, despite being left out of rotation by BBC Radio 1, reached No. 4 in the U.K. This would be the last song credited to the Beatles. When Anthology 3 was released in October 1996, they decided not to record anything new for it."
Dave Lifton (March 4, 2016 - Ultimate Classic Rock website)

"It was a ballad called Now And Then. We put a few instruments down and Ringo added a harmony on it. I did a couple of big edits on it, Paul liked it, I liked it. But George didn t like it, so we didn t carry on."
Jeff Lynne (April 2016 - Uncut magazine)

"In the 80s and 90s, Lynne became a go-to producer for classic-rockers like Tom Petty, George Harrison, and the reconstituted Beatles on Anthology-era tracks such as Free As A Bird and Real Love."
Steven Hyden (April 25, 2017 - Uproxx website)

"Jeff Lynne took charge of these sessions and did a great job. I ve got more memories of Free As A Bird than Real Love. I don t think Real Love was as good as Free As A Bird. That song was harder to do because some of the timing some of the vocal thing on the cassette that John had left. Jeff s friend computerized it and got the vocal lines in time more."
Geoff Emerick (October 4, 2018 - Rock Cellar magazine (from an archive interview of unknown date)

"The set [The Beatles: The Singles Collection] also includes a double A-side single for the mid-1990s-issued tracks Free As a Bird and Real Love, which were John Lennon demos embellished with new instrumental tracks by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr with producer Jeff Lynne."
Jem Aswad (October 16, 2019 - Variety)

"John had made a lo-fi recording of Real Love in 1979, which was first issued in 1988 on the soundtrack album of the documentary film Imagine: John Lennon. Having collaborated on Free As A Bird, Paul, George and Ringo next selected Real Love from demos offered to them by Yoko. When adding musicsl parts to Real Love in February 1995, a different approach was required. In contrast to their collaboration on Free As A Bird, as Paul remembered, 'The song was finished. It had all the words and music. It was more like we were sidemen to John, which was joyful and was good fun. I thought we did a good job.'"
Unknown (November 2019 - The Singles Collection liner notes)

"The Beatles broke up in the early 1970s. Ever since, fans have wanted to hear new music from the Fab Four. In the 1990s, audiences got their wish to a degree. The release of the Beatles Anthology came with a few new tracks. Essentially these songs were John Lennon demos which were completed with the help of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. One of these songs, Real Love, sparked controversy when BBC Radio 1 refused to play it. Here s why Radio 1 thought the Fab Four weren t worth their time. First, a little background on Real Love. The Beatles Bible reports the track was composed by John in 1979. At different times, he gave the song the titles Real Life and Real Love. He recorded several demos of Real Love with differing lyrics. Years after John s murder, the song was released on the soundtrack of the film Imagine: John Lennon. However, Ultimate Classic Rock reports Real Love wouldn t become a Beatles song until much later. Paul, George, and Ringo worked with producer Jeff Lynne on one of the demos to finish the track. Lynne said it was a challenge to work with John s demo. Lynne said 'The problem I had with Real Love was that not only was there a 60-cycles mains hum going on, there was also a terrible amount of hiss [on the tape], because it had been recorded at a low level.' Lynne said the demo of Real Love he received appeared to be a copy of a copy of a copy. Any issues aside, Paul, George and Ringo were able to finish the track with Lynne s help. The song s commercial reception, however, was not what it could have been. This is because BBC s Radio 1 station didn t want to play the Beatles. The idea of a pop station refusing to play the Beatles sounds so wrong. Aren t they the biggest pop band to ever live? Despite this, the BBC reports Radio 1 decided not to play the song because they wanted to appeal to a younger demographic. A spokesman for the station said Real Love was 'not what our listeners want to hear. We are a contemporary music station.' Some Beatles fans criticized Radio 1 s decision as ageist. Furthermore, a spokesman for the Beatles countered the narrative the Beatles had no appeal to younger listeners. The spokesman said over 40% of those who purchased the first Anthology album were teenagers. Clearly, the Beatles had an inter-generational fan base. Paul himself weighed in on the controversy in an article he wrote for The Mirror. According to The Beatles Bible, Paul wrote 'The Beatles don t need our new single, Real Love, to be a hit. It's not as if our careers depend on it. If Radio 1 feels that we should be banned now, it's not exactly going to ruin us overnight. You can t put an age limit on good music.' Paul said many younger bands like Oasis took inspiration from the Beatles. If that was the case, clearly not everyone held the view the Beatles were only music for an older generation. Maybe the Beatles weren t hip in the minds of Radio 1, but the actual youth of the 1990s had a very different attitude."
Matthew Trzcinski (March 4, 2020 - Showbiz CheatSheet)

"Into 1994 and Lynne was the man the The Beatles trusted to produce two new singles for their Anthology collection Free as a Bird and Real Love, which were created from John Lennon s old demo tapes. It was a moment of elation and dread for self-confessed fan Lynne but he pulled it off."
James Iles (May 8, 2020 - Redditch Standard)

"With their stars aligned, McCartney and Lynne began working together just before the Flaming Pie sessions on Beatles curiosities Free As A Bird and Real Love. They were the final songs to feature John, Paul, George and Ringo, forming a key part of the ambitious multimedia Anthology project."
Simon Cosyns (August 7, 2020 - The Sun)

Long Story about song creation in The Independent on November 19, 2020

"The Lennon masterclass of Real Love wouldn t be released until it appeared on Anthology 2 in 1996 but does, somewhat unusually, feature all four members of the band who are credited in one way or another. John Lennon is named as the sole songwriter with Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul Mccartney all being named as producers alongside Jeff Lynne."
Joe Taysom (December 1, 2020 - Far Out Magazine)

"A few months later, using another Lennon demo, the three Beatles came out with another single called Real Love, and that one peaked at #11. Harrison didn t want to do any more Beatles-reunion stuff after that."
Tom Breihan (April 7, 2021 - Stereogum website)

"After Lennon s tragic death, in the mid-nineties McCartney, Harrison and Starr reunited under producer Jeff Lynne to finish up two Lennon demos from the late 70s. Together, Free As a Bird and Real Love created two brand new Beatles songs more than 25 years after their break-up. Both songs are great in their own way, but Real Love is a great ballast for Harrison s guitar playing, allowing space for him to riff. It's also interesting as it represents Harrison going back to his roots. He plays without a slide, something that had become intrinsic to his post-Beatles playing. There also exists the 2015 remixes of the songs, which are denser than the originals, featuring completely different vocal and guitar takes."
Arun Starkey (May 2, 2021 - Far Out online magazine)

  • Running Time: 3:55
  • Record Date: 1979 (original) & February 1995 (Beatles version)
  • Record Location: The Dakota, New York City, New York, USA (original) & Hog Hill Mill Studio, Sussex, England (Beatles version)
  • Written By: John Lennon
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
  • Engineered By: Geoff Emerick & Marc Mann
  • Performed By: John Lennon (vocals, piano), Paul McCartney (vocals, bass, backing vocals), George Harrison (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums), other artists and instruments unknown

  • Released On:
    • Real Love 7" single (1996 March 4 UK Apple R 6425)
    • Real Love 7" picture disc single (1996 March 4 UK Apple RP 6425)
    • Real Love CD single (1996 March 4 UK Apple CDR 6425)
    • Real Love 7" single (1996 March 4 USA Apple/Capitol NR 7243 8 58544 7 7)
    • Real Love cassette single (1996 March 4 USA Apple/Capitol 4KM 7243 8 58544 4 6)
    • Real Love CD single (1996 March 4 USA Apple/Capitol C2 7243 8 58544 2 2)
    • Real Love CD promo single (1996 March 4 USA Apple/Capitol DPRO-11187)
    • Anthology 2 LP album (1996 March 18 UK Apple PCSP 728)
    • Anthology 2 CD album (1996 March 18 UK Apple CDPCSP 728)
    • Anthology 2 CD album (1996 March 19 USA Apple/Capitol CDP 7243 8 34448 2 3)
    • Anthology VHS videotape (1996 September 5 USA Turner Home Entertainment ?)
    • Anthology VHS videotape (1996 October 7 UK Apple ?)
    • Anthology 2 digital album (2011 June 11 Worldwide Apple/Capitol ?)
    • Anthology digital box set album (2011 June 11 Worldwide Apple/Capitol ?)
    • Anthology Highlights digital album (2011 June 11 Worldwide Apple/Capitol ?)
    • Anthology DVD (2003 March 31 UK Apple 4 92969 9)
    • Anthology DVD (2003 April 1 USA Capitol C9 7243 92975 9 3)
    • The Singles Collection 7" vinyl box set (2019 November 22 Worldwide Apple/Capitol 0602547261717)

  • Top UK Chart Position: 4
  • Top US Chart Position: 11
  • Cover Versions: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on their Symphonic Beatles album (2000)