Grow Old with Me

"Grow Old with Me" is one of the final songs written by John Lennon. It was recorded by Lennon as a demo while in Bermuda in 1980, and later appeared on the posthumous album, Milk and Honey in 1984. It was also considered as a possible reunion single by his former bandmates during the making of The Beatles Anthology.

Origins and inspiration

The song was inspired from two different sources: from a poem penned by Robert Browning titled "Rabbi ben Ezra" and a song by Lennon's wife Yoko Ono called "Let Me Count the Ways" (which in turn had been inspired from a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning).

Lennon and Ono had for some time admired the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Browning, and the two songs were purposely written with the couple in mind.

Ono woke up one morning in the summer of 1980 with the music of "Let Me Count the Ways" in her head and promptly rang Lennon in Bermuda to play it for him. Lennon loved the song and Ono then suggested to him that he should write a Robert Browning piece to accompany it. That afternoon, John was watching TV when a film came on which had the poem "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning in it. Inspired by this turn of events, Lennon wrote "Grow Old with Me" as an answer to Ono's song, and rang her back to play it to her over the phone.


The two new songs, "Grow Old with Me" and "Let Me Count the Ways" were originally meant for inclusion on the Double Fantasy album. However, Lennon and Ono were working on a tight deadline to get the album finished and released before Christmas, and decided to postpone recording of the song until the following year (1981) for the follow-up album, Milk and Honey. This never happened due to Lennon's murder in December 1980.

Had the song been fully finished and recorded, Lennon and Ono had envisioned it as a "standard, the kind that they would play in church every time a couple gets married, with horns and other arrangements". A few different home recordings of it were made by Lennon and Ono and one of these versions was released on "Milk and Honey". Recorded in the couple's bedroom on a cassette with a piano and rhythm box, it was the last recording ever made of the song by Lennon.

In 1998, at Ono's request, George Martin created an orchestrated version of the recording, which was released on the John Lennon Anthology box set. This version was later included on the compilations Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon and Gimme Some Truth.

In 2009, an acoustic version and an alternative piano arrangement came to light and now circulate among Lennon collectors.

Attempted Beatles version

In 1994, Yoko gave Paul McCartney some cassettes containing demo recordings of four of John Lennon's unfinished songs: "Grow Old with Me", "Free as a Bird", "Real Love" and "Now and Then" with "for Paul" written on them in John's handwriting. The three remaining Beatles (Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) never attempted to work on "Grow Old with Me" in a similar way that they had with the other Beatles "reunion" songs. "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" were the only ones completed. They did work on "Now and Then" but decided to abandon it because Lennon's original demo required too much work to bring it up to the standard needed for an official release.

Starr recorded a version of "Grow Old With Me" in 2019, with McCartney on bass and backing vocals.


  • John Lennonvocals, piano

    ;John Lennon Anthology version
  • John Lennon – vocals, piano
  • George Martinorchestral arrangement

    Cover versions

    Lennon’s bandmate Ringo Starr covered “Grow Old With Me” for his 2019 album What’s My Name. Paul McCartney sang background vocals and played bass, and Jack Douglas, who produced Lennon’s Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey, arranged strings – including a George Harrison quote. “And the strings that Jack arranged for this track, if you really listen, they do one line from ‘Here Comes The Sun,’” Starr said. “So in a way, it’s the four of us.”

    Peter Randall, a Canadian artist, was the first artist known to record a cover version of the song when he recorded and released it on his 1990 album, Better Times. The video received some airplay on Canadian music video channel, Much Music's love segment entitled Mush Music.

    Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded a cover version of "Grow Old Along with Me" on the 1995 album Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon. This version mainly stays true to Lennon's original home recording, featuring just Chapin singing with a piano for most of the song.

    The group Youngstown covered this song in 2001 for release on their second album, Down For the Get Down.

    Damian Wilson recorded a cover for his 2001 EP, which shares its title with the song and was eventually incorporated into his album, Disciple.

    In 2005, The Postal Service released an electronica-inspired cover of the song through the Amnesty International's "Make Some Noise" campaign. The song was later released on the 2007 benefit album, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.

    In 2008, Glen Campbell released a version on his album Meet Glen Campbell.

    An excellent fan mix can be found on YouTube, featuring Lennon’s remastered vocals accompanied by Starr’s instrumentals. The result is considered close to the never-produced version envisioned for the Anthology.