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Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Heather” (improvisation, 1968)

Posted by on January 14, 2013 at 6:00 am.

Welcome to The Beatles Rarity of the Week. The lively instrumental piece included on Paul McCartney’s 2001 album Driving Rain and written for his second wife, is not the only song by him that goes by the name “Heather.” Paul’s other “Heather” came into the picture when his late sixties relationship with Linda Eastman began to take off. Heather Louise was Linda’s daughter from her previous marriage to Joseph See. In 1969, after his marriage to Linda in March, Paul legally adopted Heather (then aged 6 years old). For those of you that have seen it, it is Heather who is the cute little blonde haired girl in the Let It Be film running around in the studio, giggling and comically surprising Ringo Starr by sneaking in a sudden whack on his drum kit.

While working on new Apple Records artist Mary Hopkin’s Post Card album (the date was almost certainly Friday Nov. 22, 1968), Paul McCartney, who produced the album, was in the studio with Mary and Donovan Leitch, who also contributes heavily to the album. Giving the engineer time to set up before recording one of Donovan’s compositions for the album (either “Voyage Of The Moon” or “Lord Of The Reedy River”), Paul and Donovan sit around and play some guitar to warm up as the tape rolls. Linda and Heather are also with Paul in the studio and for a couple minutes Paul decides to entertain Heather with a nursery-rhyme styled tune he improvises using her name. As he makes out the tune on his acoustic guitar, Donovan starts to play along and harmonize. Mary Hopkin offers some harmony too and someone else joins in by slapping out a beat on their legs. As just sort of a “one-off” to grant a few moments of amusement to Paul’s future daughter-by-law, the song was never returned to on any known subsequent recordings. To honor a request for Twitter follower rxcraig, this week’s BROW is Paul McCartney’s first “Heather.”

Paul McCartney (w/Donovon & Mary Hopkin) - Heather

Heather Louise McCartney, circa 1971, with Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha

Heather Louise McCartney, circa 1971, with Paul McCartney’s sheepdog Martha


Extra info:

Mary Hopkin’s Post Card album was released on Apple Records on February 21, 1969 in the U.K. where it peaked at #6 on the Melody Maker charts. In the U.S., it was released on March 3, 1969 and the album peaked at #28 on the Billboard album chart. Paul McCartney and Donovan duet on acoustic guitar for two of Donovan’s compositions featured on the LP (“Voyage Of The Moon” and “Lord Of The Reedy River”).

It has been suggested that the “Jo-Jo” character in The Beatles song “Get Back” (penned by Paul McCartney) was Linda’s first husband Joseph See who, like the subject of the song, resided in Tucson, Arizona. Joseph See committed suicide in 2000 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound one week after learning that upon Linda McCartney’s recent death with breast cancer, left her entire 220 million dollar estate to Paul.

A few pictures that include Heather as well as Paul’s and Linda’s first child, Mary, can be seen in the photo book that comes with the recently issued deluxe edition of the 1971 Paul and Linda McCartney album Ram.

Heather McCartney currently lives on Paul McCartney’s estate in Sussex, England and generally maintaining a low profile works as a potter. She has had pottery exhibitions in New York City, Tokyo, Paris and Sydney. Wedgewood (China, Decor & Gifts) described Heather as “one of Britain’s most exciting new talents.” She also released her own line of housewares called the Heather McCartney Houseware Collection. Accompanied by adoptive father Paul, she unveiled the collection in 1999 at a showing in Atlanta Georgia.

Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:

1) Post Card – 2010 remastered CD of original 1969 Mary Hopkin Apple album, produced by Paul McCartney (and featuring guitar by Paul).

2) RAM [Deluxe Book Edition] [4CD+1DVD] 4-CD/1 DVD 2012 remastered and expanded deluxe edition of original 1971 Paul & Linda McCartney album Ram, with bonus tracks, videos and booklet with lots of photos of Paul, Linda, Heather and Mary in the setting of their farm home in Scotland.

3) Driving Rain 2001 CD by Paul McCartney containing the instrumental track “Heather” (different song than the one from the Post Card sessions described above).

4) More Amazon links for any of your favorite Beatles-related music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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  • Elliott Marx says:

    This was the first bootleg I ever fell in love with as a child. Finding someone to sell my boots was such a score and these sessions with Donovan were dear to me. I also had some hilariously ribald (especially to a 12 year old) out takes from Double Fantasy (I’m thinking Dream Lover)that I played continuously. Thanks for prompting such nice memories.

    I was stunned to learn that Linda’s first husband committed suicide over an inheritance. That can not be all there is to it, very sad. Just last week I did a bit of research on Tony Cox, Yoko’s first husband. I suppose I should follow that up by discovering more about Joseph See.

    • Happy Nat says:

      Ironic EM! One of my first boots too. It must have been about ’78 or so when I located it – a time when I was not quite the full-grown Beatle-fanatic that I am now.

  • Lou says:

    Gosh, I hadn’t realized that her ex-husband’s suicide was connected to Linda’s will. Has that actually been factually established? I mean beyond the timing of him killing himself a week after the will was revealed, how do we know this is true?

    I had read that he suffered from severe depression so I thought his suicide was related to his illness and maybe to his depression about Linda dying. But then again, they’d been divorced for 30 years and hadn’t seen each other often. Why would he be so torn up about her death, and why would he wait two years after her death to kill himself? So maybe it was somehow related to her will. Perhaps he had financial problems and had hoped to receive some money from her will.

    At any rate, Paul’s voice is so lovely here. I wish he could still hit these notes. Don’t get me wrong, I like his old-man voice and I don’t see the point of criticizing a singer for getting older, but, oohhhh, was his voice and its massive range glorious in its time.

  • YouKnowMyNameLookUpThe# says:

    I forget exactly all of what was on my first boot, but I know it had the medley of songs that included Shout Part 2 and it had an alternate version of Rain without vocals. (They were highlights to me). I have since found both in much better versions on CD. Also, that was a white sleeve with a sticker saying what was on it. I also bought (same time) the Xmas LP which turned out was not original but it was very good. Once I had replaced the content with better versions, I sold those to my local shop to buy more Beatles records! (John would be proud).

    Thanks for the post. I find I compare your versions to mine when you post (if I have them) and it always makes me take 30 minutes of Beatles listening after reading your post and hearing another track! Thanks for that too. The day is now a better day. ;-)

  • the walrus says:

    and that sheep dog next to her, is martha. martha my dear….

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