Most of us have, at one time or another, put something valuable in a supposedly safe place and then forgotten where we left it. Car keys, wallets, eyeglasses, cell phones—whether through distraction or neglect or diabolical misfortune, things disappear. And it’s not just household items. Over the centuries, more than a few of our most precious cultural artifacts have been lost in similar ways. This includes historically significant music manuscripts, a spate of which have turned up in recent years, to the delight of musicologists and listeners alike. Which is to say that sometimes, through an unpredictable combination of knowledge, awareness, sleuthing, and occasional pure luck, lost treasures are, like paradise, regained.
Not long ago, when George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, was rummaging in a piano bench in Friar Park, the couple’s expansive and whimsical Gothic estate in Oxfordshire, she found a long-forgotten folder the late Beatle had left there. In it were twenty years of original documents, including the lyrics of a previously unknown song from the early seventies, “Hey Ringo.” Written as an imaginary dialogue between himself and Ringo, it is something of a lament about the Beatles’ breakup. Although George was as ready to move on as the others, this song sheds light on the close musical relationship between two of the most influential players in rock history. Read More