It came about because Harry was my dear friend and he was really preparing himself for an album, always writing songs. He gave me this song 'Lay Down Your Arms' four or five years ago. And I always thought I wanted to do this song one day if he doesn't do it on an album. So when they came around to doing the album For The Love Of Harry everyone did songs that were already done by Harry. And I had this song that nobody had done but he had written it. It was real emotional for me because I was doing it for Harry and it was 'Lay Down Your Arms,' the gun law and everything else. I just called Don Was. I said, Have you got a couple of hours? Everyone was sort of doing it at home, it wasn't big production records. And he had a studio so I said, I've got this idea for this track. I'll bring it over and see what we think, what we can do with it. We pressed the buttons. He put a line down on piano, we had the keypad for the drums. I did a bit of that and got some rhythm section going. Did the vocals. And he said, 'Let's see if so and so is in?' Some guy came over and played guitar and then Stevie Nicks was down the road, give her a call. And she came over with her girls and they did the vocals. We did it in a night. It was like good old records (laughs) where you're not suffering for years. You just got it together and people were just popping in. It was like a little conveyor belt in a way. If people would come in and do the guitar. Okay, thank you, we need the room. Because it was just in a house room. I'd bring in someone else and it was just great. We started 'round about six at night and it was mixed by three in the morning. And I didn't know I'd got a good review so it's good to hear.
-- Ringo Starr
"Lay Down Your Arms" was written by Harry in response to John Lennon's assassination. "I get nervous," he said, "when they start shooting piano players."
The lyric was partially taken from a song Harry had written several years earlier for the score of the musical Zapata, called "Let Me Go Free." It was not written specifically for Ringo, but there had been plans for him to record it throughout the eighties. It never transpired. Harry would have recorded it himself if he'd been able to get a record contract. Several versions of the song exist, as recorded by Harry. Throughout the decade, he returned to the number periodically.
As much as I love Ringo, the weakest of Harry's versions is vastly superior the FTLOH cover. Still, it was right and proper that Ringo be the one to introduce the song since we're being denied the original.