The last recording of The Beatles has been released.
The song “Now and Then” is an incredibly rare track by The Beatles, lasting four minutes and eight seconds. It is the only original recording by the band in the 21st century. The song begins with a countdown and then features acoustic guitar and piano, followed by John Lennon’s unmistakable vocals singing the lyrics “I know it’s true, it’s all because of you, and if I make it through, it’s all because of you.”
Over 40 years after Lennon was killed and 20 years after George Harrison’s passing, the final Beatles song has been made available as a double A-side single along with “Love Me Do,” the group’s first single from 1962.
“From the same collection of unreleased recordings written by Lennon in the 1970s, “Now and Then” emerged, gifted to his ex-bandmates by Yoko Ono. The tape was utilized in the creation of “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love,” both released in the 1990s. However, there were technical constraints that prevented the completion of “Now and Then.”
A new short film, called “The Beatles – Now And Then – The Final Beatles Song,” was released on Wednesday. This film explores the making of the song and reveals that Lennon’s voice was originally concealed on the tape. McCartney also mentions that the piano was difficult to hear and explains that at the time, they did not have the technology to isolate individual audio tracks.
In 2022, the band, now consisting of two members, used advanced restoration techniques to separate the Beatles’ vocals from background sounds, similar to the methods used in director Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary series, “The Beatles: Get Back.” With this technology, they were able to isolate Lennon’s voice from the original cassette and finish “Now and Then” through the use of machine learning.
In June, when the song was initially announced, McCartney expressed his thoughts on artificial intelligence technology, saying it was both frightening and thrilling. He acknowledged that its potential impact is still unknown.
“To still be working on Beatles’ music in 2023 — wow,” he said in “The Beatles — Now And Then — The Last Beatles Song.” “We’re actually messing around with state-of-the-art technology, which is something the Beatles would’ve been very interested in.”
According to Ringo Starr, there were rumors that Lennon had contributed to the upcoming track, but he dismissed them, saying that they would never make something up like that.
“This is the final recording featuring all four of The Beatles – John, Paul, George, and Ringo,” he stated.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr utilized John Lennon’s demo to construct the track, incorporating guitar sections composed by George Harrison during the 1995 sessions and a slide guitar solo in his distinct style. McCartney and Starr recorded their bass and drum parts. With the assistance of Giles Martin, son of the late Beatles producer George Martin, a string arrangement was created, reminiscent of the grandeur of iconic songs like “Strawberry Fields,” “Yesterday,” and “I Am the Walrus.” The musicians involved were not informed that they were contributing to the final Beatles track, so McCartney presented it as a solo project.
This Friday, the Beatles’ YouTube channel will debut the official music video for “Now and Then,” which was directed by Jackson. The video features footage of McCartney and Starr performing, as well as 14 hours of previously unreleased film from the 1995 recording sessions. According to Jackson’s statement, this footage includes several hours of Paul, George, and Ringo working on the song “Now and Then.”
Additionally, the film includes never-before-seen footage from home movies contributed by Lennon’s son Sean and Olivia Harrison, who was George’s spouse. It also features a rare glimpse of The Beatles performing in their iconic leather suits, believed to be the earliest known footage of the band, which was provided by their original drummer, Pete Best.
Jackson stated that the result was quite surprising and brought a necessary balance between the somber and comedic elements in the video.