Free as a Bird
Free as a Bird is a song written and performed by the Beatles. It was produced as a lead-off single for the 1995 release of Anthology 1. After the breakup of the Beatles, McCartney and Yoko Ono did not enjoy a cordial relationship, even after the murder of John Lennon. A rapprochement was accomplished in January of 1994, possibly aided by George Harrison and Neil Aspinall (of Apple Records). McCartney presented Lennon with an award, inducting him into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Yoko Ono received the award on behalf of John. At that time she gave Paul some cassettes with four songs. One was Free as a Bird, a demo played and sung by John in 1977 in New York. With Ono's permission, the three surviving Beatles set about producing a song, using the demo track. Jeff Lynne (of "Electric Light Orchestra") was chosen to be the "producer," though Starkey, Harrison and McCartney were all intimately involved. In Paul's house in Sussex, the three recorded additional tracks in February and March of 1994. George plays electric slide guitar and ukulele on this number.
The collaboration was not easy, but the final product was successful. In addition to being the lead-off track for Anthology 1, Free as a Bird charted well in the US and the UK as a single. It was released on the BBC on November 20, 1995 with Christmas Time (Is Here Again) on the b-side. The CD single also included I Saw Her Standing There and This Boy. The Beatles had not released a song since 1970 (with The Long and Winding Road). It made number 2 in the UK, and number 6 in the US, becoming the 34th top 10 hit of the Beatles in the US. In 1997 it won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Group with Vocal. A music video for the song shows the perspective of a bird in flight (without showing the bird itself), and contains 100 or so references to other Beatles' songs. It won a Grammy in 1997 for Best Short Form Music Video.