Song facts: Real Love

Real love is a song written by John Lennon and first recorded in 1977 with a hand held tape recorder. It was later worked on by the three surviving Beatles for the Anthology project in 1995.

Although widely circulated on bootleg tapes and CDs over the years, it only came to light officially when it was used in the Imagine documentary in 1988. Until the 90s Paul McCartney confessed to have never heard the song. 

George Martin turned down the offer of producing the record as his hearing had diminished over the years. The Beatles enlisted Jeff Lynne to produce; Lynne had already worked with The Beatles on Free as a Bird; as well as producing, Lynne also provided backing vocals and guitar on the track.

Personnel

  • John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocals, piano, tambourine
  • Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass, double bass, acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion
  • George Harrison – backing vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonium, percussion
  • Ringo Starr – drums, percussion
  • Jeff Lynne - backing vocals, guitar
"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 then 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 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. 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!" - Jeff Lynne
"Free As A Bird was really like working on a record with John, as Lennon/McCartney/Harrison, because we all chipped in a bit on this one. George and I were vying for best lyric. That was more satisfying than just taking a John song, which was what we did for the second, Real Love. It worked out great but it wasn't as much fun." - Paul McCartney
Real Love single cover. 

Real Love single cover. 

Release

The song was released as the opening track on Anthology 2on March 18th 1996; and also issued as a single on March 4th, with a live version of Baby's in Black included as the B-side. 

The single reached number four in the UK and number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

"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. It's very heartening to know that, while the kindergarten kings of Radio 1 may think The Beatles are too old to come out to play, a lot of younger British bands don't seem to share that view. I'm forever reading how bands like Oasis are openly crediting The Beatles as inspiration, and I'm pleased that I can hear The Beatles in a lot of the music around today. As Ringo said to me about all this, who needs Radio 1 when you've got all the independent stations?" - Paul McCartney
    The Beatles' Antholoy 2 album cover. 

    The Beatles' Antholoy 2 album cover.