The world-renowned Beatles tribute band Apple Jam has revealed to the John Lennon Examiner that they will perform one of John Lennon’s rarest unfinished tracks at their show on December 8, 2015 at the Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. Presented by Roseta Productions, the John Lennon Jam will pay homage to Lennon on the 35th anniversary of his death. The concert will showcase the music of John Lennon from both the Beatles and solo eras, including favorites, deep cuts, and rarely performed songs. We have interviewed drummer Josh Jones and Steve Roseta, Producer, today October 23, 2015 about their finalized version of a song that John Lennon never completed, as well as other unique aspects of the show.
Steve Roseta wrote the John Lennon Examiner, “A really exciting part of the show is going to be Apple Jam’s first performance of their completed version of Lennon’s demo, ‘Now and Then.’ They will develop the song, and create an arrangement in keeping with a Beatles style. I am sure you know the backstory of how this song was a candidate for Beatles Anthology 3 and how the other Beatles were unable to finish the song like they did ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love.’”
(In January 1994 Yoko Ono gave Paul McCartney some of John Lennon’s home recordings, which included “Free as a Bird”, “Real Love”, “Grow Old With Me” and “Now And Then.” The first two were completed by the “Threetles” and released on the Anthology.)
Here is our interview:
Lennon Examiner: “Now and Then” is a great song and not too many people know it—although unfinished at the time of John’s death, it’s a beautiful song and it’s exciting that you are doing this! How and why did you think of doing that song in particular?
Josh Jones: This is one of the most unique aspects of this particular show we are doing and we are very excited about it. You know John wrote it in the late 70s, at his home, and Yoko had given it to the Beatles along with the other songs. They were able to record ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ but George Harrison finally said they would have to do too much to the song to make it workable and there was a really loud buzz on the demo. Paul McCartney has always said he’d like to get back to it someday but he hasn’t.
Apple Jam is all about giving the audience something special—like the CD we did, ‘Off the Beatle Track’ where we recorded the songs the Beatles gave away and never recorded, in the style that the Beatles would have done them at the time. It being December 8, the anniversary of John’s death, we want to do a great song that most people haven’t heard.
LE: Can you tell us something about how you will finish this song, i.e. adding guitar parts, or vocals, etc? What will you do with it?
JJ: Approaching it is tough…it would have been easier if it was a song John did while the Beatles were together, because for instance in the case of ‘Off the Beatle Track’ (CD released by Apple Jam) we knew exactly what their style was in that time period. With this one, it’s John in his solo years doing things differently than he had before. So all we can do is ask ourselves how the Beatles might have finished it. What would Paul have done on bass, and would George and Paul have done harmonies, etc.
We aren’t completed with it yet, we’re still working on it. But to answer your question, the demo is five minutes long, right? And it’s very unstructured. So of course we will firm it up and shorten it, resolve a chorus and have it repeat. If the Beatles had done the song, we know George would have added a guitar solo, so we will do that, and we need to do some harmonies in the fashion that they did on ‘Free as a Bird.’ It will be a challenge for sure. But we are very excited to do this.
LE: As far as your set list goes, how will you split the show up between John’s Beatles songs and his solo songs? And how will the set list differ from the show you did on his birthday October 9?
JJ: The set list will differ by at least 75% from the birthday show. The birthday show was more celebratory, of course, since it was his birthday. This show will be more introspective and feature more of his solo work. Of course there will be certain songs that we do in every show, like “Imagine”, “Instant Karma”, and “Real Love” always is a favorite as well. I would say this show will be 50/50 Beatles and solo work.
LE: For the solo songs, are you going to concentrate more on Double Fantasy/Milk and Honey than the other albums? Which of his solo albums will the audience hear more of?
JJ: Oh, good question. Well, I would say there will be maybe 5-6 songs from the Double Fantasy/Milk & Honey, and the rest will be from mostly Imagine, Plastic Ono Band, and Mind Games, because they were more introspective and reflective of who he was as a man at that time.
Steve Roseta: Of course, Double Fantasy was the album most people think of with respect to his passing as well. With respect to those albums you mentioned, the audience can expect to hear “(Just Like) Starting Over”, “Number 9 Dream”, and even Harrison’s tribute to John, “All Those Years Ago.” There will be about thirty-two songs, so the final set list isn’t finished yet.
LE: Will you play the video that you showed at his 30th anniversary?
SR: Yes we will, or at least a version of it, I think we are making some changes to it. As far as rarities, we are also going to do a montage of three songs that didn’t make it onto the White Album; we call them the “White Album extras.”
LE: Can you tell me which songs?
JJ: Yes—actually they will be “Look at Me”, “What’s the New Mary Jane” and “Child of Nature.” You’ve heard these songs in different places over the years on bootlegs etc, but we will be re-imagining the songs and performing them as though the Beatles had actually recorded them for the album. This is more difficult because their style was undefined on the White Album.
LE: Oh wow. People probably forget that “Look at Me” was written earlier by Lennon and only appeared later in his solo work. So to do this song differently than he did it, as though the Beatles were doing it, would be incredibly interesting. I see what you’re trying to say. The songs on ‘Off the Beatle Track’ were easier to do because you knew what their style was then—the late 50s, early 60s. On the White Album, it was four individuals trying to do their songs their own way, and they were so experimental at that time, so you might never know exactly what they would do. And “Child of Nature”, you won’t sing that the way Lennon’s demo sounds, or even make it sound like it’s reincarnation of “Jealous Guy”, but what it would have sounded like if the Beatles recorded it for the White Album.
JJ: Right. Exactly. We have to extrapolate the next step to make it a true Beatles song. I guess this is when you would label us true “Beatle Nerds.” (laughs.)
LE: Yes, but that’s what makes your show unique in comparison to other tribute bands. You aren’t just covering the songs exactly as they were recorded, you are analyzing what they might have done if they’d gone one more step on certain songs.
SR: Yeah, and it’s always exciting for me to hear what Apple Jam is doing. I feel like I’m getting to hear a new Beatles song!
LE: Speaking of the White Album outtakes, I recall you were going to do a CD of them. Are you still going to do that?
SR: Yes we are, we are just having trouble fitting that work in since we’ve been doing shows. But we will get back to it.
The tickets to this show at the Triple Door can be purchased here. If you have never seen Apple Jam in concert before, watch the video on this page from concert clips on You Tube created by James Goldsmith.