Free As A Bird - The Dakota Beatle Demos

John Lennon




PEGBOY - 1001



   Special Features

Comes with a 28 page booklet and slipcase-style box.

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Box front

Booklet front

Box back

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Front Cover

Back Cover

Disc Variations:

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CD (yellow)

CD (white)

Gold CDR


The Booklet:

The booklet included with this title features the following information:

- Complete liner notes by the folks at Vigotone (reproduced below)


22 Tracks - Total Time: 72:52

1. Free As A Bird   (3:30)
2. Real Love   (4:10)
3. Now And Then   (5:05)
4. Grow Old With Me   (3:07)
5. Free As A Bird   (2:43)
6. Dear John   (4:35)
7. That's The Way The World Is   (3:07)
8. India   (3:07)
9. Mirror, Mirror (On The Wall)   (2:38)
10. Gone From This Place   (3:27)
11. Across The River   (2:44)
12. Don't Be Crazy   (3:15)
13. Illusions   (2:45)
14. Baby Make Love To You   (2:19)
15. Life Begins At 40   (2:39)
16. She's A Friend Of Dorothy   (4:10)
17. You Saved My Soul   (1:37)
18. Sally And Billy   (3:31)
19. Whatever Happened To...   (4:43)
20. One Of The Boys   (3:13)
21. Help Me To Help Myself   (2:11)
22. Real Love   (4:03)


Box Back Text:

This collection features the best of John Lennon's original home demos recorded at the Dakota between 1976 and 1980. John's original demos used for the new Beatles' songs: Free As A Bird & Real Love are here as well as the talked about, but never heard, 3rd "Beatle '95" demo Now and Then. Also included are several never before heard Lennon compositions.  In addition, this package contains a 24 page booklet containing informative notes, relevant photos and sketches from the pen of John Lennon.


Liner Notes:

In 1980, John Lennon wanted his public to believe that his music had deserted him for five long years before miraculously returning with a fury. While the story makes for good PR, this collection of home demos from the "Dakota Years" evidences exactly the opposite.
          Much talk of John's home demos surrounded the release of The Beatles' Anthology, and rightfully so. Over the past two years, Yoko presented Paul, George and Ringo with a selection of four Lennon demos dating from the period 1977-1980. Three of these compositions (Grow Old With Me, Real Love, and Free As A Bird) were available to the public for several years prior to their resurfacing, giving us a unique insight to the recording process in reverse. Much speculation has surrounded the fourth recording.  Scant, cryptic details from those "in the know" sent us scouring through the Lennon archives in search of the elusive track. After much searching, we are pleased to present the premiere appearance of Now And Then. But the surprises don't end there. The majority of this release is taken from unadulterated source tapes, some of them possessing an ambience so true, you'd think John was performing in your living room.
Free As A Bird
Free As A Bird no longer needs an introduction. Recorded in 1977, John ran through a mere three passes at the Dakota upright before moving on. Presented here from a tape source is Take 1 which suffers from the early stages of "demo-us interruptus" unlike the broadcast version which was artificially extended.  Take 3, whose vocal is now instantly recognizable, appears elsewhere on this collection. Listening to these takes, it becomes apparent that the backing track of the recording was indeed a composite of John's demos, rather than a single take.
Real Love
Originally conceived as a part of "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", Real Love has recently been immortalized as the latest Beatles' recording.  We are proud to present from a tape source, Take 1 of John's Dakota piano demo which premieres the joining of Real Life with Baby Make Love To You.
Now And Then
Now And Then, the elusive third "Beatle track" which was never completed during the Spring, 1995 sessions, is introduced here in its original form, replete with "the buzz" which plagued co-producer Jeff Lynne.  A careful listen reveals John's slip into She's A Friend Of Dorothy's during the instrumental break.
Grow Old With Me
What was once John's best known unfinished work due to its inclusion on Milk And Honey, Grow Old With Me possesses all of the elements of the "standard" treatment Yoko still envisions for it. The version appearing on this compilation is the stark piano and Rhythm-Ace recording prior to being tweaked for official release. You can actually discern both parts of John's double-tracked vocal.
Dear John
Dating from early November, 1980, Dear John is one of the last known Lennon compositions to materialize. With trademark introspective lyrics still unfinished, John backs himself rigidly on acoustic guitar, yet urges himself to relax. John's vocal registers his embarrassment at being caught nicking a melody for the chorus - September Song.  The keen-eared amongst you will note the longer fade, available here for the first time.
That's The Way The World Is
That's The Way The World Is combines elements which would eventually unravel into two distinctly different styled songs, Real Love and I'm Stepping Out.  A Dakota piano demo with single-tracked vocal, it appears here with a considerably longer introduction than its broadcast counterpart.
Forsaken by the "Lost Lennon Tapes" radio series, India makes its world premiere on this collection. Featuring an unheard set of lyrics atop a polished guitar backing, the melody marries an upbeat version of Tennessee with the chorus of Serve Yourself. Talk about potential!
Mirror, Mirror (On The Wall)
John recorded 5 takes of Mirror, Mirror (On The Wall) on the Dakota piano in the fall of 1977 for inclusion on "The Ballad Of John And Yoko".  Take 1 is presented here, excerpted from a rambling composing sequence.
Gone From This Place
Unfortunately, John's acoustic guitar accompaniment obstructs his prophetic lyrics on this take of the unreleased Gone From This Place.   Slightly longer than the broadcast version, this take couples the catchy melody with another original, She Runs Them Around In Circles.
Across The River
Across The River appeared previously on "The Lost Lennon Tapes" as part of what has come to be known as the J-9 Medley. The take appearing here was never aired as a part of the radio series, and features John accompanied by acoustic guitar and Rhythm-Ace.
Don't Be Crazy
Don't Be Crazy was one of many compositions incorporated into (Just Like) Starting Over. On John's piano demo we hear the bridge/middle-eight portion taking shape, albeit with alternate lyrics.
Another title overlooked by the radio series is Illusions (A.K.A. Not For Love Nor Money), a close miked acoustic guitar demo reminiscent of Serve Yourself and I'm Stepping Out. Once again we have an unknown set of lyrics dealing with disillusion.
Baby Make Love To You
Part of a lengthy composing sequence, Baby Make Love To You offers a fascinating experience of hearing John discover the chord progression which would eventually develop into the verse of Real Love.
Life Begins At 40
Recorded at the "Dakota Country And Western Club" on acoustic guitar and Rhythm-Ace, Life Begins At 40 makes its most complete appearance to date.  This demo was given to Ringo when he met with John at The Plaza hotel in late November, 1980 for inclusion on what was to become Stop And Smell The Roses.
She's A Friend Of Dorothy's
Take 7 of She's A Friend Of Dorothy's dates from 1977 (it was first demoed the preceding year) and was also slated for "The Ballad Of John And Yoko".  Lyrically, it's one of John's more intriguing works.
You Saved My Soul
You Saved My Soul is most likely John Lennon's last home recording to surface.  Taken from a tape dated November 14, 1980, this electric guitar based demo is an excerpt of a longer "stream of consciousness" composing sequence which, among the false starts, also includes the well known Serve Yourself and interrupting vocalization Pop Is The Name Of The Game.
Sally And Billy
From the early house husband years is Sally And Billy. Dating from 1976, this piano/drum machine based demo updates the Titenhurst Park version which was recorded towards the end of 1970.  Note that the chorus still retains the melody used several years earlier on the Mind Games track Only People.
Whatever Happened To..
Taken from the same cassette as Free As A Bird, Whatever Happened To... was another of the several tracks composed for the unrealized stage play "The Ballad Of John And Yoko".  John punctuates his vocal with a staccato acoustic guitar on this demo which dates from 1977.
One Of The Boys
One Of The Boys is another unreleased original committed to tape shortly after the Lennon's returned from their Japanese holiday towards the end of 1977.  Recorded at the Dakota, two takes have surfaced, both with a spirited acoustic guitar accompaniment.  The last of these known takes is presented here.  The slightly familiar melody (and lyrics!) which appear towards the end of take 2 belong to a tune entitled Caribbean - popularized nearly twenty years earlier by Mitchell Torok and also revisited by the Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory Band during their 1972 Record Plant breakfast jam.
Help Me To Help Myself
Help Me To Help Myself is an original piano based demo, presented in a gospel style. It was recorded prior to the Dylanesque guitar/drum machine demo also heard on "The Lost Lennon Tapes".
Real Love
This is take 4 of a series of acoustic demos John recorded of Real Love (AKA Boys And Girls) in early 1980. Take 6 appeared previously on the Imagine: John Lennon soundtrack. Interestingly enough, the lyrics to both takes are "Real Life" rather than "Real Love"
Well that's about all we have time for this time around.   We hope you've enjoyed this sampling of "Dakota Demos" and that you'll join us on our next trip through the Lennon Archives.  Until then, from somewhere in Tampa, I'm Eric Hearble.


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