Check the date. Check it twice. If you need to get Christmas gifts, now’s the time. You can still pop down the shops or order from a certain behemoth multinational. But, what to get? If in doubt, people always like The Beatles, don’t they! To avoid getting something your special someone already has, go new. Luckily, there’s a new Ringo Starr album called What’s My Name, and a photo book!
The Beatles reunited!
The centrepiece is Grow Old With Me, a song written by John Lennon, with bass and backing vocals by Paul McCartney. It’s filled with pathos, given that Lennon never got to live his dream of growing old with his love, Yoko Ono.
This came about when Ringo ran into Jack Douglas, who had produced Lennon and Ono’s Double Fantasy album. He explained “Jack asked if I ever heard The Bermuda Tapes, John’s demos from that time. And I had never heard all this.”
“The idea that John was talking about me in that time before he died, well, I’m an emotional person. And I just loved this song. I sang it the best that I could. I do well up when I think of John this deeply. And I’ve done my best… The other good thing is that I really wanted Paul to play on it, and he said yes… So John’s on it in a way. I’m on it and Paul’s on it. It’s not a publicity stunt. This is just what I wanted. And the strings that Jack arranged for this track, if you really listen, they do one line from Here Comes The Sun. So in a way, it’s the four of us.”
The recording process
McCartney and other notable contributors to the record, like Joe Walsh and Dave Stewart, got the chance to be creative in Starr’s home studio, Roccabella West. Starr explained “I’ve had enough of the big glass wall and the separation. We are all together in here, whoever I invite over. This is the smallest club in town. And I love it.”
That clubhouse setting found space for collaborators who Starr trusted enough to take over songwriting and producing reigns. After writing together, Sam Hollander got in touch to say he’d written another song based on an interview Ringo did for Rolling Stone. After recording Starr’s vocals and two takes of drums – how he does it – Hollander took the track and completed Better Days.
Speaking of friends and collaborators, the album title comes from a song written by All-Starr band member Colin Hay, who was inspired by the popular ‘what’s my name?’ refrain at Ringo’s live shows. Meanwhile, Magic was co-written with another All-Starr alumni, Steve Lukather, who Starr jokes he once “made a mistake” by telling him he was “my last best friend.”
Sometimes friends become family and that’ the way it was with musical partner and now brother-in-law Joe Walsh. “I’ve been making music with Joe long before we became brothers, “Ringo said. “And we were having dinner with Klaus Voormann months ago, and for whatever, I said, ‘Well, you’ve got to get up to get down.’ Joe and looked at each other and said, “We know that’s the title, so let’s write a song about it.”
Alongside all these new tunes, there’s a cover of the classic Money (That’s What I Want) to sing along to straight away. The album What’s My Name is out now on UMC. At the time of writing, Ringo Starr What’s My Name is available for £15 on vinyl.
Ringo’s photo book
As a companion piece, or if you’re not sure what format would be best to buy the album on, check out Ringo’s new photo book, Another Day In The Life. As well as photos of The Beatles and peace signs, there are photos of food, nature and landscapes to really give you a sense of his life and priorities.
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