Paul McCartney has approved a unique reworking of a Beatles classic which will be performed during the first Animal Requiem, a memorial concert celebrating the lives of deceased pets. Audience members are invited to bring a photograph, portraying a happy memory of their beloved pet to the concert, held at the St James’ Church, in Piccadilly, London. They can pin their photo to a large board that will be placed in view, then light a candle in remembrance of their pet. Animal Requiem premiere This will be followed by a full orchestral and choir performance of the Animal Requiem, a work composed by Rachel Fuller, the singer-songwriter who is married to Pete Townshend of The Who.
Fuller, who admits that acquiring canines is something of an addiction, was inspired to create the work in response to the grief she felt after losing six dogs to old age over the space of five years. “I composed the Animal Requiem for all of us who have lost a much beloved pet. They become parts of our families and the pain we feel is equal to the love we felt for them,” the classically-trained musician said.
Townshend wrote to McCartney
“I wanted to have an extra track after the Requiem and I approached Paul about a collaboration on Blackbird,” she said. “It might not be what he was writing about but for me the song has a message about animal welfare and rising up against oppression. (Proceeds from the requiem will go to animal welfare charities and independent shelters.) Harmonically, the song would fit beautifully.”
Paul’s 1968 solo offering was a tribute to the civil rights movement in the United States, although initially inspired by hearing a blackbird in Rishikesh, India. Fuller, 45, asked Townshend to help persuade the Beatle. “I had to go to Pete, who is an old friend of Paul’s. Everyone knows Paul is a huge supporter of animal welfare and Pete wrote him a letter explaining the project and asking if I could record Blackbird using a choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.” Thumbs up from Macca “Paul wrote back very quickly saying ‘This is cool with me. It’s a great project.’ If the other people say ‘Yes’, you can have the original Beatles tapes. They did so I added the RPO and choir to his singing and playing. It’s great to have the prestige of the Beatles estate for the requiem”. The Beatles’ representatives are generally reluctant to let others embellish their original recordings. Other animal-loving rockers are backing the project with Brian May of Queen and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood hoping to attend the concert.
Animal Requiem, St James’ Church, Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL on Thursday 31st January 2019 from 7pm. The album is available for download on Jan 31 and on CD from March 8