November 3, 2023

The Beatles’ last song ‘Now And Then’ finally released

The Beatles Now And Then

A screengrab from Now and Then video.

After a week of build-up, The Beatles have released what’s been billed as their “final song” — ‘Now and Then’ — yesterday, November 2.

Called Now And Then, it’s been 45 years in the making. The first bars were written by John Lennon in 1978 and the song was finally completed last year.

All four Beatles feature on the track, which will be the last credited to Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr.

And in a full-circle moment, it’s being issued as a double A-side single with their 1962 debut Love Me Do.

The release marks what could be the closing chapter for arguably the greatest band in rock history.

When, where can I hear Now And Then?

In the UK, Now And Then had its first play on BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music shortly after 2 p.m. GMT.

Simultaneously, the song arrived on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music.

CD, vinyl and cassette copies will be available the following day. And from 10 November, the song will be included on the newly remastered and expanded versions of The Beatles’ Red and Blue greatest hits albums.

The original demo has circulated as a bootleg for years. An apologetic love song, it’s fairly typical of John Lennon’s solo output of the 1970s – in a similar vein to Jealous Guy.

It was finished in the studio last year by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr. George Harrison will appear via rhythm guitar parts he recorded in 1995. And producer Giles Martin has added a new string arrangement.

“Hearing John and Paul sing the first chorus together, as they lock into the line ‘Now and then I miss you’ – it’s intensely powerful, to say the least,” said Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine.

“I cried like a baby when I heard it,” added BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. “Just gorgeous.”

Was artificial intelligence used to finish Now and Then?

To an extent, yes.

During the making of The Beatles’ Get Back documentary, director Peter Jackson’s film company developed a piece of software that allowed them to “de-mix” muddled recordings of overlapping sounds.

The technology was used last year to create a new mix of the band’s album Revolver.

“It has to learn what the sound of John Lennon’s guitar is, for instance. And the more information you can give it, the better it becomes,” Giles Martin told the BBC.

For Now And Then, the software was able to “lift” Lennon’s voice from the original cassette recording. It removed the background hiss and the hum of the mains electricity that had hampered previous attempts to complete the song.

In McCartney’s words, Lennon’s voice is “crystal clear” on Now And Then.

A 15-minute documentary broadcast on Wednesday’s The One Show, offered a startling illustration of what that means. The thin, ghostly voice of the 1970s suddenly sounds like it was recorded in Abbey Road itself.

“It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room,” said Starr. “Far out.”

“All those memories came flooding back,” added McCartney. “My God, how lucky was I to have those men in my life?

“To still be working on Beatles music in 2023? Wow.”

How The Beatles’ Now And Then video was made

Yes, Jackson has created a new video, which was unveiled at 2 p.m., today.

At the time of this report, the video had done over one million views in three hours.

It contains previously unseen footage, including “a few precious seconds” of the earliest known film of The Beatles, provided by original drummer Pete Best and his brother Roag.

Roag said he bought the silent footage from a man who used a cine camera to film the band performing St Paul’s Presbyterian Church Hall in Birkenhead in February 1962, eight months before their debut single came out.

Jackson’s team has improved the quality and “it looks absolutely fantastic”, Roag told BBC News.

It is also the only known footage of the band performing in the leather suits they sported before they became famous.

“The lads are rocking backwards and forwards with guitars, mouths to the microphones, singing,” Roag said.

Ringo Starr for Pete Best

It is also the only video from before Pete Best was sacked and replaced by Ringo Starr in August 1962. But he is obscured in the footage, his brother said.

“From a family perspective, I went, ‘Ah, come on!’ One of the guys is actually standing in front of Pete. So all you can see is Pete’s drum kit and Pete’s hands occasionally with the sticks.”

Jackson has used about six seconds of the footage in the Now And Then video. The original lasts for almost a minute and will go on show at the Liverpool Beatles Museum, which Roag Best owns.

In a statement, Jackson said he had found other “unseen outtakes in the vault, where The Beatles are relaxed, funny and rather candid”.

He added: “We wove the humour into some footage shot in 2023. The result is pretty nutty and provided the video with much-needed balance between the sad and the funny.” BBC

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