The Last Time Lennon & McCartney Played Together Captured in A Toot And a Snore in ’74

The num­ber of Bea­t­les bootlegs—in every pos­si­ble medi­um and state of quality—must approach infin­i­ty. A per­son could spend a life­time acquir­ing, cat­a­logu­ing, scru­ti­niz­ing, and dis­cussing the rel­a­tive mer­its of var­i­ous out­takes, live record­ings, demos, and stu­dio goof-offs from the band and its indi­vid­ual mem­bers. It should go with­out say­ing that a great many of these arti­facts have more his­tor­i­cal than musi­cal inter­est, giv­en their frag­men­tary and unse­ri­ous nature—and the sim­ple bar­ri­ers posed by bad record­ing. But while I imag­ine some angry anti­quar­i­an or zeal­ous devo­tee inter­ject­ing here to tell me that absolute­ly every­thing the fab four touched turned direct­ly to gold, I remain unsold on this arti­cle of faith.

So where are we aver­age fans to place A Toot and a Snore in ’74, the boot­leg album (above) record­ed at Bur­bank Stu­dios and fea­tur­ing musi­cal con­tri­bu­tions from Ste­vie Won­der, Har­ry Nils­son, Jesse Ed Davis, and Bob­by Keys? Well, its his­tor­i­cal val­ue is beyond ques­tion, since it rep­re­sents the only known record of John Lennon and Paul McCart­ney play­ing togeth­er after the Bea­t­les’ breakup. Though their mutu­al dis­like at this time was well-estab­lished and they hadn’t seen each oth­er in three years, the tapes doc­u­ment a very laid-back ses­sion with the two legends—John on lead vocal and gui­tar, Paul singing har­monies and play­ing Ringo’s drumkit—letting go of the past and hav­ing some fun again. Lennon first men­tioned the record­ing while dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of reunion in the 1975 inter­view below (he’s sur­pris­ing­ly warm to the idea). At 1:45, he says, “I jammed with Paul. We did a lot of stuff in LA. There was 50 oth­er peo­ple play­ing, but they were all just watch­ing me and Paul.”

How does McCart­ney remem­ber the ses­sion? “Hazy,” he said in a 1997 inter­view, “for a num­ber of rea­sons.” The drugs were sure­ly one of them. The title refers to Lennon offer­ing Ste­vie Won­der coke in the open­ing track: “do you want a snort Steve? A toot? It’s going round….” The impromp­tu gath­er­ing con­vened on March 28 dur­ing the record­ing of Har­ry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats, which Lennon was pro­duc­ing. This was dur­ing Lennon’s so-called “lost week­end,” the year and a half dur­ing which he sep­a­rat­ed from Yoko, lived with their assis­tant May Pang, and did some seri­ous drink­ing and drugs (as well as record­ing three albums).

Pang, who was present and plays tam­bourine, recalls it as a night of “joy­ous music” in her 1983 book Lov­ing John, but you prob­a­bly had to be there to ful­ly appre­ci­ate it. As Richard Met­zger at Dan­ger­ous Minds notes, “it’s basi­cal­ly just a drunk, coked-up jam ses­sion.” But, he adds, “a drunk, coked-up jam ses­sion of great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.” And for that rea­son alone, it’s worth a lis­ten. Or, if you like, you can read a tran­script of the ram­ble and ban­ter over at Boot­leg Zone. Con­sist­ing of lots of stu­dio crosstalk, noodling improv, and a few attempt­ed cov­ers, the ses­sion was released by Ger­many’s Mis­tral Music in 1992, cred­it­ed sim­ply to “John and Paul.”

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Bea­t­les: Unplugged Col­lects Acoustic Demos of White Album Songs (1968)

The 10-Minute, Nev­er-Released, Exper­i­men­tal Demo of The Bea­t­les’ “Rev­o­lu­tion” (1968)

Hear the 1962 Bea­t­les Demo that Dec­ca Reject­ed: “Gui­tar Groups are on Their Way Out, Mr. Epstein”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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