In 1995, the highly controversial "new", and ultimately penultimate, Beatles single, "Free As A Bird", was released. This was a song John Lennon had written in 1977 which he had recorded a demo of, but never a proper recording. In early February and March 1994, with the permission of Yoko Ono, this demo was given to Paul, George and Ringo to develop into a "Beatles" song in Paul's studio in Sussex.
Creating Free As A Bird
It is believed that Paul and Yoko, long bitter rivals, reconciled their differences when both attended John Lennon's solo induction into New York's Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame at the beginning of that year. Yoko described the historic moment that the tapes were handed over by saying,
"People have said that it was all agreed when Paul came over to induct John into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but it was all settled before then. I just used that occasion to hand over the tapes personally to Paul."
Paul received tapes of four of John's songs; "Free As A Bird", "Real Love", "Girls And Boys" and "Grow Old With Me".1
Paul McCartney described the experience by saying
"We took the attitude that John had gone on holiday, saying "I finished all the tracks except this one. I'm sorry that I can't make the last session, but I leave it to you guys to finish it off. Do what you'd normally do. Don't get fussy; just do your normal thing. I trust you." Once we agreed to take that attitude it gave us a lot of freedom."
He has also described how much of an emotional experience it was to hear John Lennon in his headphones again for the first time since 1970.
"When I actually heard the demos, I loved the songs so much, particularly Free As A Bird, which was the one I first got attracted to. I just loved hearing John singing it, and I just thought "Wow! This is like an amazing opportunity,
all these years after he's died so cruelly I get to work with him again!" Something that obviously is impossible... But suddenly this occasion arose to actually have him in my headphones, and actually be singing with him!
And that was how it was, when we got round to the sessions. About a week before Ringo was saying to me, he said "how is it?" and I said "It's great, it's a lovely song, so keep your hanky ready when you listen to it, because its quite sad to be listening to our old mate." But when he heard it, he rang up he said "This will be quite joyous!" And it was, it was a joyful, joyous experience, and we got on great. It was like old gloves, it was like a day hadn't gone by."
John Lennon's original demo was enhanced by Paul, George and Ringo adding their own vocals and instrumentation, taking care to ensure John's voice and piano were still very much to the forefront. Although George Martin had been asked to produce the record, he declined on the grounds that his ears were no longer sharp enough, although he did produce and direct the Anthology project. Geoff Emerick, who was the engineer on many of the original Beatles records, returned to work with the Beatles once again for this project.
One of the major problems with the demo was that John Lennon's tempo fluctuated unsteadily during the song, something which had to be digitally time-stretched before it was possible for the other Beatles to play in time to it.
Paul described the whole process by saying
"We fixed the timing and then added some bits. John hadn't filled in the middle-eight section of the demo 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. The beginning was originally just John and piano and his voice on mono tape. Then George added some guitar and we all did harmonies. George and I competed on who actually had the better lyrics to the unfinished Lennon song."
Ringo aptly described the result by simply saying "it sounds like the bloody Beatles."
"Free As A Bird", unlike "Real Love", was a new song. Although "Real Love" had been released previously2, on the 1988 "Imagine: John Lennon - Music From The Motion Picture" album that accompanied the film of John Lennon's life, and indeed it featured prominently on that film's opening credits, "Free As A Bird" had not been released before. Its eventual release in 1995 was the nearest fans could get to hearing a new John Lennon song.
This, with the following single "Real Love", caused controversy and divided Beatles fans on its release. Many felt that this was merely an attempt to cash in on John Lennon's legacy, and that the song had never been intended to be a Beatles single. As it had not been written as a Beatles song, and indeed had never even had a full recording, many felt that it was wrong to release the
song. This is, afterall, an understandable view, one which Paul McCartney himself shared at first, recollecting his horror in his childhood when some songs sung by his childhood idol, Buddy Holly3, were released after his death.
In an interview asking why the Beatles released "Free As A Bird" in the face of the hostility, Paul McCartney answered,
"I can understand that because when we were kids, when Buddy died, they did some records with a group called the Fireballs, instead of the Crickets, and they put Buddy's voice on it, and we always thought that was terrible. We thought they shouldn't have done it. So when this came around, this opportunity
to do one of John's songs, that was one of the first things I thought. "Oh God, you know it's the old Fireball thing!" But they weren't his group. So I kinda rationalised it, thinking, "Now, if it had been the Crickets I think I might have thought it was okay to do that, its not like they're getting a new group in."
George Harrison, though, was typically quiet on the subject of the release of the song. He once famously said that "I sort of felt John was going off a little bit towards the end of his writing", and much speculation existed suggesting that one of the main reasons that George agreed to take part was to raise money needed for a court case concerning his Handmade Films company.
However, it on was his suggestion that the mono cassette the song was originally on was digitally cleaned and enhanced by Jeff Lynne. Jeff Lynne, who ran the Electric Light Orchestra, had co-produced George's "Cloud Nine" album, and had been in "The Travelling Wilburys" along with George, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Many fans, however, felt that his involvement merely resulted in the song sounding like The Travelling Willburys.
John Lennon: The Original Recording
The main argument used against the release of the song is the fact that John Lennon only recorded it as a demo in 1977, and never a full recording. Does this show that John himself did not consider the song to be of value? This view overlooks the fact that John, between February 1975 and June 1980, did not record any songs. As soon as Yoko announced that she was pregnant with Sean, John made the conscious decision to retire to spend time with his family. He said,
"Walking away is much harder than carrying on. I hadn't stopped from 1962 'til 1973 - on demand, on schedule, continuously. And walking away was hard...
Because I don't exist if my name isn't in the papers or if I don't have a record out in the charts or whatever."
The fact that this song was recorded at all, at a time which John Lennon said he "hung my guitar up above my bed, but I'd look at it every now and then. I didn't want to hide it, but I used to look at it and think, "Will I ever pull it down?"" shows how highly John considered the song.
John Lennon's Post-1980 Career
"Free As A Bird" is also not the first John Lennon song to have been released posthumously. In 1984, four years after John's death, Yoko Ono released "Milk And Honey", which contained songs recorded around the time of John's 1980 "Double Fantasy" album. In 1986 a second posthumous album, "Menlove Avenue", containing tracks from the "Walls And Bridges" and "Rock 'n' Roll" sessions was released, followed by the "Imagine: John Lennon" film and album in 1988, and
the four CD Anthology set in 1998 and, more recently, 2004's "Accoustic album. The "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" sessions therefore are not unique in resurrecting John Lennon songs, yet were alone in the amount of controversy they caused.
A Beatles Song?
There are many arguments justifying its release. Afterall, not only is it a perfect swansong to the Beatles achievement, it is a great song in its own right, and one which deserved to be heard. Many fans feel that the way the song has been released can only be an improvement on the original recording, having been released having had all of its mono imperfections removed, with the sound enhanced by the performances of the Beatles. Afterall, if vocal and
instrumental enhancements were going to be necessary due to the poor quality of the original mono recording in order for this song to be released, surely it is better that it was done by the Beatles themselves?4.
The lyrics of "Free As A Bird" have special, poignant meaning when sung by the Beatles, giving a new layer to an already beautiful song. For many people, the song becomes about the Beatles, and their break-up. The lyrics of the verse in particular asks many of the same questions that Beatles fans themselves asked at the break-up of the group. "Whatever happened to the life that we once knew?" brings to mind the fact that for many, the break-up of the Beatles was the end of an era. "Can we really live without each other?" can be seen as a question of how the Beatles themselves, John, Paul, George and Ringo, would cope over the next decades on their own. "When did we lose the touch that seemed to mean so much?" a sentence which asks why the Beatles broke up, and when the process had started.
The Beatles And The Evolution Of The Music Video
The Beatles were always at the forefront of music technology and "Free As A Bird" is no exception. The group which pioneered backward loops5, the sitar6, and feedback7 also invented the music video. The music video's creation is normally credited to Queen8, who, in November 1975, unable to appear on BBC's "Top Of The Pops" programme due to tour commitments, spent two days and under £4,000 on filming a video of their latest single, "Bohemian Rhapsody", considered the world's first music video, at Elstree Studios, to be shown on the programme. However, the Beatles had pioneered this medium even before Queen.
The Beatles, having achieved world-wide fame by 1965, found it physically impossible to appear on every music television show throughout the world to promote their singles. They also no longer wished to, having began to find appearing on television live9, as well as live performances in general, repetitive and mundane, interfering with the creativity and freedom they found studio recordings brought.
Therefore, on the 23rd November 1965 they filmed promotional videos at Twickenham, specifically designed to be broadcast by television companies throughout the world. Videos of "We Can Work It Out", "Day Tripper", "Help!", "Ticket To Ride" and "I Feel Fine" were filmed. On the 19th and 20th May 1966 they filmed promotional films for "Paperback Writer" and "Rain"10, both in colour and black-and-white versions, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was later to direct not only the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" music videos on the 4th September 1968, but also the project which evolved into the "Let It Be" film. Both on these, and the 1967 sessions,
several different takes of the videos were filmed in order to give different versions to rival companies.
The real break-through with the evolution of the music video occurred in 1967 when, before the Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine films, which both can be viewed as feature-length music videos, the videos for "Strawberry Fields
Forever" and "Penny Lane" were filmed. On the 30th and 31st January 1967 they filmed a single video for each song, both of which, for the first time without any pretence of performing, allowing the feel of the songs to storyboard the action. These were filmed in Knole Park11, the tree featured prominently in the "Strawberry Fields Forever" video being behind the
Although arguably the most fun Beatles music video was "Hello, Goodbye", filmed on the 10th November 1967 at the Saville Theatre, and directed by Paul McCartney himself.
The Free As A Bird Music Video
The Beatles, as the pioneers of the music video, therefore had a reputation to fulfil when it came to the Free As A Bird music video, and they did not disappoint. The video14 seamlessly takes the viewer on a "Magical
Mystery Tour" of the Beatles lives and lyrics, and in reference to the song title, as Neil Aspinal, head of Apple, the Beatles' Company, explains, "you never see the bird. The camera is the bird.". This journey is made extra special as the scenes were filmed where they were based; the Penny Lane scenes, for example, were filmed in the Penny Lane district, and most of the people on screen are
locals from Liverpool.
Paul McCartney described the video by saying
"This idea [was to] load lots of clues here and there, 'cause we used to do that in all the old records. it became a bit of a game in the old Beatles days to stick little clues in and he's used them in the video, so it's very clever. You've got a pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray and Maxwell's Silver Hammer shop. I think it's a
nice background. It'll mean that people can watch it a few times and, you know, get into it."
Spotting the several images taken from the Beatles songs themselves proves to be a fascinating experience in itself, showing that the video is far more than merely something to accompany the haunting song on VH1. There are reported to be over 100 references to Beatles songs in the video. It is fascinating in that it projects a sense that we, the viewers, are being taken on a personal tour of
the Beatles. It is also a video which benefits from multiple viewing as, each time it is seen, there is always something new to see.
The video begins inside a room with a mantelpiece showing childhood photos of the four Beatles. The sound of a bird in the room, perhaps echoing Norwegian Wood's "she showed me her room, isn't it good?" is heard, as we follow the invisible bird out into Liverpool, and the beginning of the journey. This can be seen to represent the song "Flying", on the Magical Mystery Tour album, or "Norwegian Wood". The lyrics "and when I awoke I was alone, this bird had flown" not only symbolises the flying out of the room, but also the flying
journey. The bird could also symbolise "Blackbird" from The White Album, or "And Your Bird Can Sing". The room itself symbolises John and Stuart's Sutcliffe's flat at 3 Gambier Terrace, which was near Liverpool Art School, which John and Stuart both attended.
The trip to Liverpool echoes "In My Life" as we are shown the Beatles' lives, "Across The Universe"15 and "A Day In The Life". It could even represent "Sentimental Journey", Ringo Starr's first solo album, which was released before "Let It Be".
We catch a glimpse of the Liver Building16 and the river Mersey, and the boats on it, which symbolise "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"' line "Picture Yourself On A Boat On A River".
We land in the docks, where it is raining. The Beatles are amongst the dock workers who "when the rain comes they run and hide their heads" from "Rain" and "get your tan from standing in the English rain" from "I Am The Walrus". The
dock workers could well be "lonely people", as mentioned in "Eleanor Rigby", or even represent John Lennon's father, Alfred, who worked as a steward on the transatlantic liners from Liverpool.
From the docks we are taken to Mathew Street, where we are amongst the crowd of people trying to get into the Cavern. The Cavern is the club where the Beatles performed almost 300 times between the 9th February 1961 to 3rd August 1963.
Although the original Cavern was demolished in 1973 to make way for a Liverpool underground railway which was never constructed, it was rebuilt on almost the same spot in 1984, using many of the same bricks to its original dimensions. However, as the original entrance no longer exists, although the Cavern's fire escape exits onto the site of the old entrance, the Mathew Street and Cavern recreation in "The Beatles Story" museum in Liverpool was used. The outside scenes were filmed in Henry Street. Here, we see the Beatles performing in time to the music17.
We are then taken from the Cavern, via Strawberry Fields, to Penny Lane. This could well reflect the lyric from "Glass Onion", "I told you about Strawberry Fields, you know the place where nothing is real, well here's another place you can go where everything flows", a lyric which truly applies to the whole video.
Here, in Penny Lane, children run hand in hand, reminding us not only of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and of the "couple of kids running in the yard of Desmond and Molly Jones" from "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" but also the children from "Lady Madonna" we are told to "see how they run" and the song "Little Child".
There is a covered barrow in the marketplace, reminding us of "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" again, while a van belonging to "Liverpool Egg Company" can be seen, obviously "the eggman" from "I Am The Walrus". Two people who look similar to Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Leader of the Opposition, Edward Heath walk by, both appear in the song "Taxman"18. as we see Ringo walking
Outside a greengrocers', selling Apples19, we see the pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray mentioned in the song "Penny Lane". The nurse bears an uncanny resemblance to Paul's mother, Mary McCartney, who worked as a district nurse and midwife. Also on Penny Lane is the barber with the photographs of "every head he's had the
pleasure to know". Near his shop on the wall someone has written the word "Help", the title of the second Beatles' film, and two women come through a door into the road. One is dressed in a black, perhaps to remind us of "Baby's In Black", plastic raincoat, from "Polythene Pam". Her companion could possibly
be "Another Girl", or Prudence from "Dear Prudence", come out to play.
On the pavement, one boy whispers to a girl, reminding us of "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" and "All I gotta do is whisper in your ear" from "All I've Gotta Do", when we see a couple acting quite passionately in a parked car, echoing "Why don't we do it in the road?"20. The Beatles watch, outside a
large poster for the Beatles Anthology, reminding us that the Anthology, too, is part of the Beatles' canon. Also on Penny Lane is a bakery, which has a cake in the window that says "Happy Birthday", reminding us of the song "Birthday", with 6 and 4 in the corners of the cake, from "When I'm 64". This also can symbolise Ringo Starr's father, who made cakes. We then see George Harrison walk into the Apple Building21 which in the video belongs to Doctor Robert from the song of the same name.
Down the road we see the car accident from "A Day In The Life". We see the "crowd of people stood and stared", and a girl in a Lotus sportscar, from "Drive My Car", crying, reminding us of "Cry Baby Cry". At the accident we see not only Penny Lane's "Fireman that rushes in" with his "clean machine" fire engine, but also the "pretty little policemen in a row" from "I Am The Walrus".
The camera then flies away, passing a Helter Skelter, from the song of the same name, and then a kite, echoing "Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite", to an alley in Liverpool. A group of children runs down an alley wearing pig masks, echoing "Piggies" and the "See how they smile like pigs in a sty" line from "I Am The Walrus". Behind them the Beatles appear, cross the alley, and walk through a wall on the other side, suggesting either a "Wall of Illusion" from "Within You, Without You", or George Harrison's soundtrack album, "Wonderwall", which was released when the Beatles were still together to accompany the 1968 film of the same name.
Also in the alley is a ladder against one of the terraced houses, and we see a foot disappear from its top through a window, referring to "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window". In the garden are some tall sunflowers, presumably the "flowers that grow so incredibly high" mentioned in "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".
The camera takes us into the upstairs room of a man hard at work on his typewriter. On his window, there is the lizard on the windowpane mentioned in "Happiness Is A Warm Gun". The man himself instantly reminds us of the "Paperback Writer", although it is possible that he is Father McKenzie "writing
the words to a sermon that no-one will hear". It is even possible that he is writing a letter, echoing "As I write this letter, send my love to you" from "PS I Love You", or "while I'm away I'll write home everyday" from "All My
Loving". Inside his room is a copy of the Daily Mail, again from "Paperback Writer", with the headline "4000 Holes In Blackburn Lancashire", echoing "A Day In The Life". Also inside the room is a clock, which states the time is 10:10, presumably "One After 909". curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid get" from "I'm So Tired". On the table lies a bowl of apples, reminding us again of the fact that the Beatles' company was Apple Corps, and a box of chocolates, which can only be "Savoy Truffles". John Lennon is resting in a chair, echoing "I'm So Tired" and "I'm Only Sleeping", next to a television which is broadcasting the Beatles on their famous Ed Sullivan appearance. A picture of "Her Majesty" the Queen is also in the room, with a picture of a soldier on the window, either echoing John Lennon's involvement in the 1967 film "How I Won
The War"22, or the line in "A Day In The Life" which states "I >saw a film today, oh boy. The English army had just won the war."
St Bride Street
We are then taken outside the house, where we see a hole in the neighbouring house's roof, reminding us of "Fixing a hole where the rain gets in" from "Fixing A Hole", when unexpectedly a Blue Meanie from the Yellow Submarine film pops through it. Also on the roof you can just make out a monkey, a reference to "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey". Echoing the lyric from the same song, "The higher we fly, the deeper we go, so come on", we are then taken from the roof down to street level. Here we see a man walking his bulldog down the road, echoing "Hey Bulldog", and the newspaper taxi
mentioned in "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". Two men carry a large picture of Chairman Mao across the road, reminding us of the line "but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao you ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow" from "Revolution". We see John and Yoko waltz down the road23, either "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" or "The Ballad Of John And Yoko". A Blue Meanie then pops his head up out of a hole in the road, subtly reminding us that "Mean Mr Mustard.. sleeps in a
hole in the road"24. and at the far end of the road, the Magical Mystery Tour bus25 drives by. This could be seen to also represent Harold "Harry" Harrison, George Harrison's father, who worked as a bus driver after leaving the Merchant Navy, and indeed often drove his son George and Paul McCartney to school.
The Adelphi Hotel
We are then taken into a posh hotel, the Adelphi26, glimpsing Napoleon,
presumably to remind us that "All You Need Is Love" begins with the Mareillaise, the French National Anthem which dates back to the Napoleonic era.
A hunter is seen leaving the hotel, with his porters, mother and
elephant27, reminding us of "The Continuing Story
Of Bungalow Bill", who "went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun, in case of accidents he always took his mum." We also see the Maharishi Yogi, who the Beatles stayed with in India, and perhaps even the Sheikh of Araby, a song featured on the Beatles Anthology.
We then see a gathering of the people on the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover chatting, listening to the Indian music of a sitar28 including a cut-out of Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles bass player, and close friend of John Lennon's, who had died of a brain haemorrhage in Hamburg on the 10th April 1962. We are then taken through a sky-light, reflecting "Here Comes The Sun" and "Good day Sunshine".
We are then taken to a cemetery. In it, a statue of Mary can be seen, her head turning to follow us, reminding us of "Lady Madonna", and the line "Mother Mary comes to me" in "Let It Be". We also see Eleanor Rigby's gravestone29 and Father "McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave." We then see a sheepdog running through the graveyard, probably a reference to Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha, referred to in "Martha, My Dear", or the line "Sheepdog, standing in the rain" in "Hey Bulldog". Outside the graveyard we see a woman walking down a "Long And Winding Road" carrying a suitcase, reminding us how "She's Leaving Home", while Paul is seen jumping up and down in footage taken from "The Fool On The Hill" sequence from the "Magical Mystery Tour" film.
We are then taken to London, and the world-famous zebra-crossing shown on the Abbey Road album cover.31 On the left side of the road a traffic warden, presumably "Lovely Rita, Meter Maid" from "Lovely
Rita" can be seen, presumably about to ticket the Volkswagen Beetle largely responsible for causing all the "Paul McCartney Is Dead" hysteria that gripped America in late 1969.
The final sequence takes us to a theatre, possibly representing the Saville Theatre in London where the "Hello, Goodbye" video was filmed, or any of the other small venues where the Beatles performed during the early stages of their countrywide fame. The Beatles are then seen rushing into the theatre, in a scene from the "A Hard Days Night" film, surrounded by clowns, perhaps echoing "Gather round all you clowns" from "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", while on the stage a little man plays the ukulele32. As the curtain lowers we hear a voice which appears to say "My name's John Lennon"33, but is in fact "Turned Out Nice Again" played backwards34, a reference not only to the backwards track on "Rain", but also a reference to George Harrison's childhood hero, ukulele player George Formby35, who used it as a catchphrase.
To conclude, the Beatles song "Free As A Bird" was an amazing masterpiece from not only the composition of John Lennon back in 1977, through to the 1990s recording with the other Beatles, and down to the thought that went into the music video. Although some of the song and Beatles life references contained in the video have been outlined above, there are doubtlessly several others missed which repeated viewing and others perspectives will bring to light.
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Sale".This is the interference caused by the speaker and microphone conflicting with each other.8Queen also experienced a similar situation to the Beatles' "Free As A Bird" when in 1995 they released their 20th album, "Made In Heaven", containing songs that were being developed at the time of Freddie Mercury's death in 1991.9Their last live television appearance was on 16th June 1966.10These sessions are famed for Paul McCartney having a chipped tooth as a result of a moped accident, leading to the "death clues"
hysteria.11An estate owned by the National Trust near Sevenoaks in Kent.12The director of these videos was Peter Foldmann, a Swedish friend of Klaus Voormann.1313Klaus Voormann was the Beatles' German friend first met in Hamburg in 1960, where his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr became very close to the "fifth Beatle" Stuart Sutcliffe and created the famed "mop top" Beatles hairstyle. He not only designed the Beatles "Revolver" album cover, but also played bass with Manfred Mann. He later often played bass with John, such as on every track of the "Imagine" album, including tracks with George, on some of George's albums, including the outstanding "All Things Must Pass" album, and on several of Ringo's albums, including 1973's "Ringo" album, the closest thing to a Beatles record after the split up until "Free As A Bird". Klaus Voorman also designed the Beatles Anthology album covers.14This can be seen on the Beatles Anthology DVD and video collection.15Indeed, Across The Universe was originally released on a Christmas 1969 charity album for the World Wildlife Fund, and contained several animal noises to reflect this. It, like "Free As A Bird", opened with the sound of a flying bird.16This is shown prominently in the beginning of the film "Yellow Submarine", is the first scene in "The Beatles Anthology" series, and also features in the "Real Love" video. It is located next to the Albert Docks, where the Beatles Story museum is located.17Although it is actually footage of them performing "Some Other Guy".18The two politicians were the first living people mentioned in a Beatles's song. When Harold Wilson won the Labour victory in 1964, one of his first acts was to award the Beatles the MBE as he felt that they epitomised the ideal of successful, working class lads doing well. When the Cavern was closed due to Health and Safety regulations on the 27th February 1966, it was Prime Minister Harold Wilson who officially re-opened the club on the 23rd July 1966.19The Beatles' publishing company.20Or, more accurately, Paul McCartney's "Back Seat Of My Car".21This building's roof, on the 30th January 1969, was the site of the last Beatles concert, which appears in the Beatles' film "Let It Be".22Directed by Richard Lester, who also directed "A Hard Days Night" and "Help!"23This was taken
from the "Let It Be" film.24Although presumably Mr Mustard is a Yellow Meanie, rather than a member of the Blue variety.25This was not footage from the "Magical Mystery Tour" film, but one of the Magical Mystery Tour buses run by Cavern City Tours, which organise Beatles trips around Liverpool.26This was not only where the Beatles stayed in the mid sixties when performing in Liverpool, but also annually holds Liverpool's Beatles convention. It is also where the crew who filmed the "Free As A Bird" video stayed.27The elephant was digitally inserted later and was not part of the original concept. Apparently Ringo Starr, seeing the video for the first time, was very impressed by it, but disappointed by the lack of elephants featured. The elephant was then added to satisfy Ringo, and indeed its brief appearance steals the scene.28This reflects the Beatles' time in Rishikesh with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and George Harrison in particular's interest in the music of Ravi Shankar.29Not a real gravestone, it is now on display in The Beatles Story, Liverpool. There is a real "Eleanor Rigby" gravestone in St Peter's Church, Woolton.30The real gravestone contains several other names, and reads "Also Eleanor Rigby, beloved
wife of Thomas Woods. Died 10th October 1939. Aged 44 years.
Asleep."30It was on a field behind the church on the 6th July 1957, at the Woolton Village Fete, that Paul McCartney first saw John Lennon perform, and they actually met in the church hall.31Abbey Road was home to the EMI recording studio, the world's first purpose-built recording studio, which was where the Beatles recorded almost all of their material.32Although the ukulele player was played by an actor, the music was actually performed by George Harrison. George originally wanted to portray the ukulele player, but was rather unfairly told he was not allowed to by the director John Pytka, despite the fact that it was a Beatles video afterall.33George Harrison was not the only Beatle able to play the ukulele, indeed John Lennon played one on "Hey Bulldog".34It is, alas, unlikely
that this was a deliberate reference to the classic Red Dwarf III episode, "Backwards".35Indeed, in Paul McCartney's recent 2003 World Tour, in tribute to George Harrison he performed "Something" in a George Formby style.