After The Beatles split up in 1970, each of the Fab Four began working on their own solo music. John Lennon took a break from music throughout the 1970s, but came back with a bang by the end of the decade; and in 1980, his fifth studio album, Double Fantasy, was released. But Yoko Ono recalled the final song Lennon ever wrote was shelved from the album.
Lennon’s last song, Grow Old With Me, was a touching ballad that was no doubt inspired by his love for Ono.
Together, they worked hard on bringing Grow Old With Me to life for Double Fantasy, but ultimately agreed it would be a better fit on his following album, Milk and Honey, as it would have given them the chance to work on it a little longer.
Ono recalled: « We were working against a deadline for the Christmas release of the album, [and we] kept holding Grow Old With Me to the end, and finally decided it was better to leave the song for Milk And Honey so we won’t do a rush job. »
On December 8, 1970 – a month after Double Fantasy hit store shelves – Lennon was murdered in front of his apartment building, The Dakota, in New York City. As a result, he never had the chance to complete the song once and for all.
Over a decade later, in 1994, the Fab Four released The Beatles Anthology alongside two newly recorded singles, based on some previously unreleased demos; Real Love and Free as a Bird.
After the first two singles, Ono suggested to the three remaining Beatles that Grow Old With Me was a perfect follow-up single.
She recalled that Lennon had already laid out his vision for the song, calling it a « standard, the kind that they would play in church every time a couple gets married, with horns and other arrangements ». (Via Far Out)
Unfortunately for Lennon and Ono, one member of the band scuppered the idea: Paul McCartney.
McCartney discussed the issue with Grow Old With Me during The Beatles Anthology. While the song had a lot of promise and had some significance to the band as Lennon’s last-ever written song, he felt the results would not be worth the work.
The Hey Jude singer said reworking the demon into a fully-fledged song would be « laborious » before adding: « John’s original demo required too much work. »
Grow Old With Me was never released on The Beatles Anthology – but it did eventually hit the airwaves decades later when one impassioned Beatle worked on it.
Ringo Starr covered Grow Old With Me for his 20th studio album, 2019’s What’s My Name.
Not only did Ringo sing the track, but McCartney offered background vocals and a bassline for the track, as well. What’s more, Lennon’s producer, Jack Douglas, arranged the strings on the song, including one set of notes originally played by George Harrison.
He later said: « And the strings that Jack arranged for this track, if you really listen, they do one line from Here Comes the Sun. »
He optimistically added: « So in a way, it’s the four of us. »