Starr Soldiers On With 'Ringo 2012' The prolific ex-Beatle discusses songwriting, marriage and his 17th solo album, released earlier this week.

Starr Soldiers On With 'Ringo 2012'

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Richard Starkey gained international attention when, barely out of his teens, and known as Ringo Starr, he played drums for the Beatles. His career didn't end when the band broke up. He's recorded many albums since then. His latest is called "Ringo 2012." NPR's David Greene gave it a listen.


RINGO STARR: (Singing) This is the anthem of peace and love.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Those looking for flashes of the Beatles on this album – well, maybe.


STARR: (Singing) This is the day. No turning away. This is an anthem.

GREENE: Despite the fame the Fab Four brought him, Ringo Starr has made an effort to be his own man.

STARR: I was asked many times to write my autobiography but basically people only want the eight years I was in the Beatles.


STARR: They're not really interested in my whole life.

GREENE: You're like there are more – there are other important times too.

STARR: There are. There'd be 10 volumes before I got to the Beatles. You know, after we split up it was pretty difficult to get your own identity. You were still, like, you know, one of the Beatles. And I did 17 CDs – this is my 17th record. Let's talk about that.


STARR: (Singing) When I was the king in Liverpool, the rain never stopped but the sun always shone in my mind. In Liverpool.

GREENE: On this album, Ringo Starr does go back to his roots in Liverpool. He sings about the lads he grew up with – and let's be clear: We're not talking about those lads John, Paul, and George.

STARR: I had a lot of friends before the Beatles. From when I was five till I was 18, there were three of us in the neighborhood and we did everything together.


STARR: (Singing) Me and the boys, me and the gang, living our fantasies. Drinking the rum, acting like fools, that's how it was for me. How was it for you?

GREENE: Ringo wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on this CD. He says he never composes a song the same way twice. Sometimes he starts with the rhythm; sometimes it's the lyrics. One of his most famous songs came to him in his sleep.

STARR: I went to bed that night, and just as I was falling asleep, I heard this sound in my mind going: (singing) back off boogaloo, I said back off boogaloo. So I had the melody and the words going here. So I ran downstairs to put it on tape, in those days, and get that down.

Because as I was singing it, which was really back off – it would turn into oh, the da da – it would turn into Mac the Knife. I would say, no, not Mac the Knife.

GREENE: You've got to stay away from Mac.

STARR: Back off boo - things like that just come from God. You can't plan everything in your life. Things just arrive and you go with it.


STARR: (Singing) Back off, boogaloo. Back off, boogaloo. Back off, boogaloo. I said back off boogaloo boo.

GREENE: One song that does stand out on the new album, "Ringo 2012," is a sentimental one. It's called "Wonderful" and it's about his wife of 30-plus years, Barbara Bach.


STARR: (Singing) And we made it through the way we always do. 'Cause for me and you, the word I could ever want was wonderful.

GREENE: I don't want to pry, but I've read that one of the very difficult things that you went through together as a couple, was battling alcoholism. And I just wondered how she helped you through something so hard like that.

STARR: I had a real problem with substance abuse. We both did, really, but this is not me talking about her. And anyway, I came out of a blackout and I asked her to make a phone call, which she did, and that's how it started. You know, I ended up in a 12 step rehab. So far so good.


STARR: (Singing) Step lightly, you're moving too fast. Take your time, boy.

GREENE: His new album is what we've come to expect from Ringo Starr. It's biographical, upbeat, and optimistic. He said good-bye to us with his customary...

STARR: Peace and love to everybody out there.

GREENE: That's Ringo Starr, and I'm David Greene, NPR News.


STARR: (Singing) Thinking over what you just said. Thinking over...

MONTAGNE: And this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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