Generation Next: The Meaning Behind “Primrose Hill” by James McCartney and Sean Ono Lennon

The sons of Paul McCartney and John Lennon have written a tender new song called “Primrose Hill.” The collaboration between James McCartney and Sean Ono Lennon marks a new generation’s chapter in songs written by Lennon-McCartney.

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McCartney announced the song on X: “Today I am so very excited to share my latest song co-written by my good friend, Sean Ono Lennon.”

The new single is the first-ever collaboration between them.

A Day in the Life

The bittersweet song is about a couple spending time at London’s famous park, Primrose Hill. A couple lay under the stars with nothing but longing memories.

We laid on Primrose Hill
Didn’t know it still
Do you remember what you said?

Those familiar with Lennon’s solo work will recognize the hazy psychedelia echoing his 2006 album, Friendly Fire. “Primrose Hill” celebrates the sons’ musical DNA, and Beatle-esque strings swell behind the plucked acoustic guitar, driven by a Revolver-era percussion arrangement.

We lay there forever
Forgot everything
Kiss beneath the stars

McCartney said of the wistful song, “I had a vision as a child in Scotland, on what was a lovely summer’s day.” He added, “Letting go, I saw my true love and savior in my mind’s eye. ‘Primrose Hill’ is about getting the ball rolling with me and finding this person.”

Shooting into the hills
The stars exploded into a flame

His very famous father showed support on Facebook. He said, “My son James has a new song out called ‘Primrose Hill’ – check it out!”

Sean Ono Lennon

Lennon is John’s youngest son from his marriage to Yoko Ono. He’s released two solo albums, beginning with Into the Sun in 1998. His latest release, Asterisms, is an instrumental mix of jazz, electronic, and rock music. John Zorn’s Tzadik record label released Asterisms in February.

He’s also been a member of Cibo Matto, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (The GOASTT), and The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Moreover, Lennon has composed film scores, his most recent being the 2015 horror comedy film Ava’s Possessions.

James McCartney

Meanwhile, McCartney—Paul’s only son—appeared on his father’s albums Flaming Pie in 1997 and Driving Rain in 2001. He also played guitar on “The Light Comes from Within” from Linda McCartney’s posthumous compilation album Wide Prairie.

He released his debut solo album, Me, in 2013, followed by The Blackberry Train in 2016. McCartney returned with the single “Beautiful” in 2024 before releasing “Primrose Hill.”

Rumors of a New Band of Beatles Children

In November, NME reported rumors of a potential supergroup of The Beatles’ children, featuring McCartney, Lennon, Ringo Starr’s son (and The Who’s drummer) Zak Starkey, and Dhani Harrison, George’s son.

However, Starkey quickly dismissed the rumors. When a fan suggested the new band, the drummer said, “If we had spent three years sleeping on flea-infested mattresses in the back room of a Hamburg club, it might have chemistry. But we have been swaddled in silken robes in houses so big that it’s too far to go and make a piece of toast—seen?”

Before his time with The Who, Starkey also played drums for Oasis. Harrison has a career as a singer, songwriter, and film composer. He and Paul Hicks wrote the music for the 2013 gothic fantasy film Beautiful Creatures.

Harrison’s latest solo album, INNERSTANDING, features a collaboration with Blur guitarist Graham Coxon.

The Beatles and AI

The Beatles released their final song last year. “Now and Then” was completed with the help of AI, which turned a John Lennon home demo into a fully formed Beatles song.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr completed the recording using George Harrison’s guitar tracks from a 1995 session. Said McCartney, “It’s all real and we all play on it.”

Yoko Ono supplied two tapes of unfinished and unreleased demos—labeled “For Paul”—for the Fab Four’s 1995 Anthology project. Lennon recorded “Now and Then” in the late ’70s inside his Dakota apartment in New York City using a handheld tape recorder. “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” came from the same demo sessions.

The new Beatles track became the fastest-selling song of the year and furthered conversations on the use of AI in music.

Half the Fab’s Kids

The latest from two Beatles’ sons is a happy reflection of memories. Following the last Beatles single, taken from a John Lennon demo, it’s a reminder that Fab Four nostalgia isn’t going away.

Though Zak Starkey shut down the possibility of a supergroup, “Primrose Hill” isn’t a bad alternative featuring yet another Lennon-McCartney tune.

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Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

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