1995 was a busy and productive year for Paul, filled incredible highs and lows, most of all of it behind the scenes.
Since the three ex-Beatles were holding back any solo work from coming out until the release of all of the Anthology music and video, Paul was free to create with no deadlines or timetable or pressure to have anything solo released this year.
It is estimated that he wrote 28 songs this year, 8 of which would be released in this and the next few years. The rest are unreleased, but I’m sure Paul has held onto the demos.
He recorded four of these demos at home in early January, all of which would come out in 1997.
On January 25th, he got together with Linda, his children Heather, James, Mary and Stella. They were joined by Yoko Ono and her son, Sean.
They recorded a song, written by Yoko, called “Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue.” Sean remembers…. “The recordings were not planned. It was more the result of our reconciliation after twenty years of bitterness and feuding bullshit. It was incredible working with Paul. Here were these people who had never played together actually making music.”
In August of 1995 word came out about this recording… Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono have officially buried the hatchet they’ve collaborated on a song to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima.
“Hiroshima Sky Is Always Blue” will be broadcast on Japanese television tomorrow on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb explosion. The song ends a three-decade feud between the ex-Beatle and John Lennon’s Japanese-born widow, who has been blamed for breaking up the most famous pop group ever. Adding to the spirit of reconciliation, the song was recorded with both Lennon and McCartney’s children.
Though McCartney is one of the world’s most famous songwriters, “Hiroshima Sky” was written by Ono. The song was taped in a secret Jan. 28 recording session when Ono and Sean Lennon her son with John spent a weekend at McCartney’s house outside London.
McCartney showed them around his private studio and suggested recording a song together. Ono told him about a song she had written from her memories of World War II Japan, when she saw newspaper photos of bomb victims suffering from burns and leukemia. Ono sang and Sean played the harpsichord his father used on the song “Julia” on the Beatles’ “White Album.
McCartney’s wife, Linda, played the organ, their son James played guitar and their daughters did the percussion. McCartney played bass, not the sort everyone remembers from the Beatles, but an upright model used by one of Elvis Presley’s bassists.
On February 6th The Beatles reunited again, the first since June of 1994, and began work on “Real Love.”
“There was a buzz all the way through the cassette. We just shoved that all onto Jeff. Once he’d got the buzz off, it showed up all the clicks that were on it, so he had to get them off as well.” – Paul
“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. Then there were clicks all the way through it. There must have been about a hundred of them. We’d spend a day on it, then listen back and still find loads more things wrong. We would magnify them, grab them and wipe them out.
It didn’t have any affect 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 master.
Putting fresh music to it was the easy part! The Real Love demo needed to be almost totally re-arranged to make a coherent song. The piano introduction was not solidly played, but when the introductory figure was repeated after the first chorus, it was done much better, so the intro that finally appeared on the final product was actually the second appearance of the figure, copied and pasted onto the beginning of the song. Also, John never sang a proper ending for Real Love, so Marc Mann took every other phrase of John singing “real love” from the interior choruses and created a fadeout coda.
Timing was as problem. Lennon recorded without a click track, requiring a bit of time compression and expansion to lock down the tempos. Lynne thought it was important to have a “good, steady pulse to record to,” so time edits were done, but, recalls Mann, “subtly enough to not lose the original feel of John’s phrasing. We’re talking about within, maybe, plus or minus three or four percent.”
Other processing jobs included the removal of unwanted instruments.
“I don’t quite like it as much as Free As A Bird because I think Free As A Bird is more powerful. But it’s catchier. There was one real nice moment when were doing Real Love and I was trying to learn the piano bit, and Ringo sat down on the drums, jamming along. It was like none of us had ever been away.” – Paul
“Real Love is more of a poppy song. It was more difficult, actually, to turn it into a real Beatles track.” – Ringo
The Beatles sped up John’s demo recording, so that their new version is a semi-tone higher than the original, and decided to use as little state of the art equipment as possible to give a timeless Beatles feel to the track.
The introduction to the song is played by Paul on a celeste (the very same instrument which John played on the Abbey Road track Because and which is now in Paul’s collection). Paul also plays harmonium and again uses the very instrument which John played on We Can Work It Out (also from in Paul’s collection).
“Paul used his double bass (originally owned by Elvis Presley bassist Bill Black) and we tracked it with a Fender Jazz. Paul went direct to the desk but also used his Mega Boogie amp and we took a mixture of the two signals. George used a couple of Strats, a modern Clapton style one and his psychedelic Strat that’s jacked up for the bottleneck stuff on Free As A Bird. They also played six string acoustics and Ringo played his Ludwig kit.
Almost all the piano heard on the completed Real Love is John’s original. Paul also doubled John’s solo vocals, in parts where the original was “thin”. – Lynne
The Real Love promo video did indeed feature a lot of footage from this session (judging by the clothing changes, more than one session was filmed); apart from showing Paul, Ringo and George arriving together at the studio, it also showed McCartney not only filming Harrison as he laid down some of his harmony vocals, but also giving him an awkward hug towards the end.
During this session, work on the second day continued briefly on the troublesome piano based Lennon demo of Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You.
Despite having attempted some earlier work during the abandoned 22nd of June 1994 session, work on this day fared no better. When the Beatles left the studio late on Tuesday, both Real Love and Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You were still unfinished.
Real Love would be completed in May, while the group would have one final bash at Now And Then again during the March 20th and 21st Sessions.
In mid February of 1995 Paul flew out with Linda, and engineers Geoff Emerick and John Hammel to Steve Miller’s home studio in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“We started listening to the new stuff – it sounded great. I pulled out all the Martin guitars, we sat down, he showed me the songs and the next thing I knew I was sitting there strumming rhythm guitar and singing with Paul on a Paul McCartney tune.
That was a really special thing, because he’s such a great writer.
I got in a perfectionist mode. “No, let me do that again, I can do it better” – and he was going, “Nah, we’re done, that’s great”. Paul is about getting right to it and doing it. When your Paul McCartney and you sound that good and everything, I can see how you can do that. For me, I had to go, “If you like it, that’s good enough”. – Steve
In these short sessions they recorded one song and started another.
On April 21st, the Paul written classical single, “A Leaf”, was released. It featured Anya Alexeyev on piano.
In Mid-May Steve returned the favor by recording at Paul’s home studio for a week. The worked on six songs and four would eventually be released. They even co-wrote two new songs together, “(Sweet Home) Country Girl” and “Soul Boy.” Both songs remain unreleased as of today.
With the imminent release of Free As A Bird and Real Love now public knowledge after an Apple press release, Paul, George and Ringo reconvened at The Mill where they completed the final parts on Real Love, planned as the second “comeback” single on May15th and 16th.
Having abandoned both “Now And Then” and “Grow Old With Me”, the group tackled a new song for the third single. There is still little inkling as to the nature of this track, although rumor has it that the song wasn’t one of the John Lennon demo tapes handed over by Yoko, but was, in fact, a brand new song written by George and Paul called All For Love (only their second ever collaboration, after the 1958 composition In Spite Of All The Danger).
Confusion and mystery still surrounds this track. Neither Paul, George, Ringo, Yoko nor Jeff Lynne seem to have so much as mentioned the existence of any such song.
Without a contribution from John Lennon it’s difficult to imagine how All For Love could have been presented as a Beatles recording, which begs the question as to whether it was, in fact, a John Lennon song and not a new composition at all (after all, Yoko is rumored to have supplied two demo cassettes comprised of three songs each, and only four titles – Free As A Bird, Real Love, Grow Old With Me and Now And Then – have surfaced so far).
A third possibility is that, as there was confusion over the actual title for the Now And Then demo, that it somehow ended up being called All For Love, possibly due to extra lyrics being written by McCartney and Harrison.
In March 1996 Beatles Monthly reported that recording of All For Love was completed during these sessions. However, in his excellent book, The Beatles After The Breakup, author Keith Badman notes that these recordings “…turned into a disaster and the sessions are aborted early. The group then decides to shelve plans for any further Beatles recording sessions, with George the chief instigator behind this…“
Despite the sessions, Paul apparently remained optimistic that something could be done with the All For Love recording. George, however, later becomes even more determined to call it a day after the poor reception given to the release of Real Love.
Whatever the reasons, this mysterious track has, so far, been firmly locked away in the vaults along with Now And Then.
They edited the Anthology tracks for the three album releases throughout 1995 and 1996.
On May 18th Paul worked with Dave Stewart on a song they co-wrote, called “Whole Life.” It would be re-recorded in 2003 and come out on the Nelson Mandela charity album ONE YEAR ON 46664.
In September, Paul did another song for the charity album, THE HELP ALBUM. He worked with the Smokin’ Mojo Filters, and they did a remake of “Come Together.”
In October he worked with Allen Ginsberg and Phillip Glass on a track that Ginsberg talked/sang called, “The Ballad of The Skeletons.” The single was accomplished by sending tapes back and forth and each performing adding their parts.
Since work was done recording with The Beatles, Paul began serious work finishing songs for what would become his next solo album. Except for a short break to work again on “Whole Life” with Dave Stewart, Paul worked from November 1st to December 5th, with Jeff Lynne behind the glass. Lynne had produced George and Ringo and Paul had a great time working on The Beatles material with Lynne.
Late in 1995, Linda began feeling ill, and after discovering a lump on her breasts she went to her physician to have it checked. After a series of tests Paul was told that Linda indeed had breast cancer, and that sadly, it had already spread through her body into her liver. The doctor told her that at best she would have 18 months to live.
From this point on, Paul’s recording took on a new reality and his tone and lyrics took on a new meaning. While sharing the news of the breast cancer with Linda, he chose not to tell her the true extent of her illness.
She began to receive chemotherapy and suffered all of the side effects that accompany this very difficult treatment. All of the video work to be done that was associated with the new material for the new album shows her, helping Paul as much as possible, but clearly the beginning of her slow decline.
After the first mix of “Whole Life” on December 1st, he and his family took the year off.
One final word on 1995… As the TV broadcast of the anthology premiered and Paul and Linda and family received the terrible news on her health, Apple records released The first of three compilations that mirrored the documentary. It also included the first new original Beatles single in 25 years. Anthology 1 is a compilation album by the Beatles, released on 20 November 1995 by Apple Records as part of The Beatles Anthology series. It features rarities, outtakes and live performances from the period 1958–1964, including songs with original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best.
It is the first in a trilogy of albums with Anthology 2 and Anthology 3, all of which tie in with the televised special The Beatles Anthology. It contains “Free as a Bird“, billed as the first new Beatles song in 25 years. The album topped the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified 8x Platinum by the RIAA.The Anthology albums were remastered and made available digitally on the iTunes Store on 14 June 2011, individually and as part of the Anthology Box Set.