Everything You Need to Know About The Beatles’ Final Song ‘Now And Then’

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It takes a special kind of band to be influential to multiple generations of artists and music fans and still holds relevance today. Truly no one can match the influence of The Beatles. The band has arguably one of the largest repertoires of classic hits known to mankind.

Here’s the lowdown on their final and definitive song… 

‘Now And Then’ is the last Beatles song, it was written and sung by John Lennon, and developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The song has now been finally finished by Paul and Ringo, over four decades later.

‘Now And Then’ will be released worldwide on 2 November and features original cover art by renowned artist Ed Ruscha. The new music video for ‘Now And Then’ will debut a day later with more global premiere plans to be announced.

A 12-minute documentary film written and directed by Oliver Murray called Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song, will premiere on 1 November. The film’s global online premiere will be hosted on The Beatles’ official YouTube channel. 

This poignant short film tells the story behind the last Beatles song, with exclusive footage and commentary from Paul, Ringo, George, Sean Ono Lennon and Peter Jackson. Fans can check out the trailer for this film before its upcoming release. 

The story of ‘Now And Then’ begins in the late 1970s, when John recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home in New York’s Dakota Building. In 1994, his wife, Yoko Ono Lennon, gave the recording to Paul, George and Ringo, along with John’s demos for ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’. 

These two songs were both completed as new Beatles songs and respectively released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project. At the same time, Paul, George and Ringo also recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for ‘Now And Then’ with producer Jeff Lynne. 

At that point, technological limitations prevented John’s vocals and piano from being separated to achieve the clear, unclouded mix needed to finish the song. ‘Now And Then’ was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited.

The release of The Beatles: Get Back docuseries in 2021, directed by Peter Jackson, which astonished viewers with its award-winning film and audio restoration, led to the revival of the ‘Now And Then’ demo as the final Beatles song.  

Peter Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique used in Get Back to John’s original home recording, preserving the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.

In 2022, Paul and Ringo set about completing the song. Besides John’s vocal, ‘Now And Then’ includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by George, Ringo’s new drum part, and bass, guitar and piano from Paul, which matches John’s original playing. 

Paul added a slide guitar solo inspired by George, and together with Ringo, contributed backing vocals to the chorus. Along with that was the addition of a string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, Paul and Ben Foster. 

Paul and Giles also added one last, wonderfully subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of ‘Here, There And Everywhere’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Because’, woven into the new song.

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. 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,” says Paul.

Meanwhile, Ringo says, “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.” 

This last instalment of The Beatles’ recorded history will be followed by new editions of the Red and Blue compilation albums that have always been seen as the definitive introduction to their work. Coming out on 10 November, the collections together span The Beatles’ entire recorded canon. 

The new versions of the Red and Blue collection will feature 75 standout tracks, from their first single, ‘Love Me Do’, to their last, ‘Now And Then’. The collection’s 21 newly added tracks showcase even more of The Beatles’ very best songs.

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