The Beatles’ final song is coming out next week. ‘Now and Then’ is set to arrive on November 2 at 10am ET (via Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe) and will be available digitally and as a double A-side single. A 12-minute documentary telling the story behind the track, written and directed by Oliver Murray, will premiere on November 1 at 3:30pm EDT. Watch a trailer for it below.
‘Now and Then’ originated as a demo that John Lennon recorded at his home in New York’s Dakota Building in 1978, featuring just Lennon’s voice and piano. In 1994, Yoko Ono gave the recording to McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, along with Lennon’s demos for ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love’. The remaining Beatles members attempted to finish ‘Now and Then’ with producer Jeff Lynne for The Beatles Anthology, but at that time, technological limitations prevented them from properly isolating Lennon’s vocals from the piano. In 2022, McCartney and Starr set out to complete the song after working with director Peter Jackson on his Get Back documentary. Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, were able to isolate Lennon’s vocals from the original home demo with the help of artificial intelligence.
In addition to Lennon’s vocal, the song features electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by Harrison, Starr’s new drum part, and bass, guitar, and piano from McCartney, who also added a slide guitar solo inspired by Harrison. The track comes with original cover art by Ed Ruscha.
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a press release. “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 added: “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.”
George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, wrote: “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. If he were here today, Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of ‘Now and Then’.”
And John Lennon’s son Sean Ono Lennon commented: “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.”
In addition to the release of ‘Now and Then’, expanded reissues of 1962-1966 (The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (The Blue Album) will be released November 10 with expanded tracklists. All the songs have been mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos.