The Beatles’ much-anticipated “final song”, Now And Then, has been released
The single was created by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and will be the final recording to feature all four members of the band, completed with the help of AI.
John Lennon first wrote and recorded a demo of the song with piano and vocals in the late 1970s at his home in New York’s Dakota building, with his wife Yoko Ono passing the track to McCartney, Starr and George Harrison in 1994, along with the demos for Free As A Bird and Real Love.
Both of those songs were completed and released in the mid-’90s as part of the band’s ‘Anthology’ project and they’re doing the same with the new song, using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology – which was also used in Peter Jackson’s acclaimed ‘Get Back’ and for a 2022 remix of their seminal album ‘Revolver‘ – to isolate elements of the track and add clarity to the stem of Lennon’s vocals and piano.
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” said McCartney. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”
Starr agreed: “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”
Featuring the electric and acoustic guitar parts recorded by Harrison in 1995 along with a new drum recording and backing vocals from Starr, plus bass and backing vocals from McCartney, the song incorporates a slide guitar part inspired by Harrison and piano based on Lennon’s original composition.
“Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard,” said Harrison’s widow Olivia. “If he were here today, Dhani [Harrison, son] and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of Now And Then.”
John’s son Sean Ono Lennon added: “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that Dad had been gone. It’s the last song my dad, Paul, George and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be.”
Listen to Now And Then and watch the official, Peter Jackson-directed music video below.