A Toot and a SnoreI’ve got something a little different today. Something you can’t just push play on, and walk away while it hums in the background. Myself, I had to put on headphones and give this a careful listen.
The John Lennon / Paul McCartney boot A Toot and a Snore in ‘74 has something of an infamous reputation. I’d read or heard about it somewhere and thought it sounded sort of interesting in a bizarre way. I didn’t expect to find it and be able to listen to it anytime soon, so I just moved on. A couple of weeks ago, I found the recording. As an acquaintance of mine has said, it’s amazing what people leave laying around the Internet.
I’m going to turn the mic over to Wikipedia at this point for a description of what A Toot and a Snore is all about:
A Toot and a Snore in '74 is a rare bootleg album of the final recording session in which John Lennon and Paul McCartney played together, which gained wider prominence when McCartney made reference to the session in a 1997 interview. Lennon did the same in a 1975 interview. The story is corroborated by biographies such as Christopher Sandford's 2006 “McCartney.” Also present, though possibly not playing, at the star-studded session were Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and Klaus Voorman. Lennon was in his “lost weekend,” kicked out of the house by Yoko for a year; thus he was with his girlfriend May Pang. Sandford paints the scene very vividly, as the room froze when Paul walked in, and remained perfectly silent until John said, “Valiant Paul McCartney, I presume?” Paul responded: “Sir Jasper Lennon [a character John played during an early TV appearance skit], I presume?” Paul extended a hand, John shook it, and the mood was pleasant but subdued, cordial but not especially warm (at least initially). Paul may (says Sandford) have encouraged John to repair his marriage with Yoko, possibly at Yoko’s request.Bootleg Zone has an excellent transcript of the recordings if you care to follow along. Listening with headphones, the sound was clear – even if the musicians didn’t seem to be.
Lennon had been producing Harry Nilsson's latest album, Pussy Cats, when Paul and Linda McCartney visited on Mar. 28, 1974. On March 31, they were joined by Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis and Bobby Keys for a jam session at Lennon’s Los Angeles beach house.
What followed was not very productive. Lennon sounds to be on cocaine – he can be heard offering Wonder a snort on the first track, and on the fifth, asks someone to give him a snort. This is also the origin of the album name, where John Lennon clearly asks: “You wanna snort, Steve? A toot? It's goin’ round.” Whether the snore/snort discrepancy is intentional or not is not known. In addition, Lennon seems to be having trouble with his microphone and headphones. However, it does offer insight into Lennon’s “lost weekend,” and as the only known post-Beatles recording of Lennon and McCartney, it has become something of a collector’s item.
For the most part, Lennon is on lead with his guitar, while McCartney sings harmony and plays drums. Stevie Wonder sings and plays electric piano, Harry Nilsson provides vocals, Jesse Ed Davis is on guitar, and Bobby Keyes plays the saxophone.
The entire recording is about half an hour.
A Toot and a Snore.mp3
Nightmares (aka Midnight).mp3
Stand By Me.mp3
Stand By Me II.mp3
Stand By Me III.mp3
Cupid/Working for the Chain Gang/Take this Hammer.mp3
June 2008 update: If you're interested, I've reposted this as a zip file, so you can get it all at once.