The Beatles’ Song/Video Now And Then is Released

The Beatles, photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The Beatles released a song, Now and Then, which completes The Fab Four’s legendary career.

The single was issued as a double A-side single alongside a fresh mix of the band’s debut record, “Love Me Do” (1962) and cover art by US artist Ed Ruscha. The song will be included on the expanded re-issue of the 1973 compilation 1967-1970, which will be released on November 10, 2023.

Now and Then was written and recorded by John Lennon around 1977, as a solo piano home demo, but the song was left unfinished.

After Lennon’s death in 1980, the song was considered as the third Beatles reunion single for their 1995–1996 retrospective project The Beatles Anthology, following “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love”, both based on Lennon’s demos. Yoko Ono gave the demo to McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, along with Lennon’s demos for “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” Working with producer Jeff Lynne, the remaining three Beatles recorded new parts for a version of “Now and Then” in 1995, but they were unable to separate Lennon’s vocals from the piano on his original demo. Instead, it’s been put on hold for nearly three decades.

However, new audio restoration technology, pioneered by Jackson, allowed Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to finish the song more than four decades after the first recording.

The song was completed by Paul and Ringo, with overdubs, and included guitar tracks by George Harrison from the abandoned 1995 sessions.

The final version features additional lyrics by McCartney, and Lennon’s voice extracted from the demo using the AI-backed audio restoration technology commissioned by Peter Jackson for his 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back. Jackson, the three-time Oscar winner, also directed the music video, which contains previously-unseen footage of the band’s early days.

The Beatles – Now and Then:

“Now and Then’s eventful journey to fruition took place over five decades and is the product of conversations and collaborations between the four Beatles that go on to this day. 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. 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.”

The Beatles / Getty Images

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