The Beatles release final ever song ‘Now and Then’

What an awesome headline to read in 2023.
3 November 2023 8:12AM

The Beatles have finally released their final song ever… What an awesome sentence to read in 2023?

The song, titled ‘Now and Then’ took place over five decades, thanks to conversations and collaborations between the surviving members, as well as modern technology that has allowed them to finish off the song. 

The emotional track was written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and now finally finished by Sir Macca and Ringo over 4 decades later. And thanks to digital technology - all four members appear on the track.

“The long mythologised John Lennon demo was first worked on in February 1995 by Paul, George and Ringo as part of The Beatles Anthology project but it remained unfinished, partly because of the impossible technological challenges involved in working with the vocal John had recorded on tape in the 1970s,” an official synopsis tells us. 

“For years it looked like the song could never be completed. But in 2022 there was a stroke of serendipity. A software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, used throughout the production of the documentary series Get Back, finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John’s vocal from his piano part. 

“As a result, the original recording could be brought to life and worked on anew with contributions from all four Beatles. This remarkable story of musical archaeology reflects The Beatles’ endless creative curiosity and shared fascination with technology. 

“It marks the completion of the last recording that John, Paul and George and Ringo will get to make together and celebrates the legacy of the foremost and most influential band in popular music history.”

Speaking in the announcement of the song, McCartney said:

"There it was, John's voice, crystal clear. It's quite emotional. And we all play on it, it's a genuine Beatles recording.”

He continued, “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 quite an exciting thing."

A poignant twelve-minute short film was also released along with the new track, which tells the story behind the song, and features exclusive commentary from Paul, Ringo, George, Sean Ono Lennon and NZ’s very own Peter Jackson.

George Harrison’s son Dhani, 45, was moved to tears when he watched the short film.

'Lord of the Rings' director Jackson revealed that Dhani was "immediately" moved when he saw his early work on the short film to accompany the song and he knew then that his concept was correct.

In an interview on the official Beatles website, he said:

"We wanted the short film to bring a few tears to the eye, but generating emotion using only archive footage is a tricky thing. Fortunately, the simple power of this beautiful song did a lot of the work for us, and we finished the first 30 or 40 secs of the film fairly quickly.

"Having done that, we jumped straight to the ending and tried to craft something that could adequately sum up the enormity of The Beatles’ legacy - in the last few seconds of their final recording. This proved to be impossible ... I realised we needed the imagination of every viewer to do what we couldn’t, and have each viewer create their own personal moment of farewell to The Beatles - but we had to gently steer everyone to that place. I had some vague ideas, but didn’t really know how to achieve this.

"Fortunately, Dhani Harrison happened to be visiting NZ at this time. I discussed the ending with him, and described one vague idea I’d been toying with. His eyes immediately filled with tears - so that is the way we went."

Jackson was responsible for isolating Lennon's voice from the 1970s demo - originally recorded with the late musician playing the piano as well - which had been presented to Paul by Yoko Ono back in 1994 when the three remaining Beatles were working on new music for their 'Anthology' project.

Have a watch of the short film at the top of the article, and tune in Magic today and across the weekend to hear the last release of a new genuine Beatles song.

Bang Showbiz & Magic