More than five decades after The Beatles disbanded, the legendary band has announced the forthcoming release of their “final song.” Entitled “Now And Then,” this track is based on a 1970s demo recording by John Lennon. Remarkably, it was completed last year through the collaborative efforts of Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr.
During a summer interview with the BBC, Sir Paul McCartney hinted at the song’s creation, revealing that AI technology played a crucial role in isolating Lennon’s vocals from an aged cassette recording.
The highly anticipated track is scheduled to premiere at 14:00 GMT on Thursday, November 2nd.
Furthermore, “Now And Then” will be a part of newly-remastered editions of The Beatles’ Red and Blue albums, set to be released on November 10th.
These compilations, originally launched in 1973, encompass the band’s entire career and have earned recognition from Rolling Stone magazine as “arguably the most influential greatest hits albums in history.”
Spanning The Beatles’ evolution from their early mop-top days (the Red Album) to their more experimental and expansive late period (the Blue Album), these albums feature an array of timeless hits, from “Love Me Do” to “The Long And Winding Road.”
In a press release, the surviving Beatles expressed their surreal experience in completing the song, with Sir Paul sharing, “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.”
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.
Now And Then” was originally penned by John Lennon in the aftermath of The Beatles’ dissolution in 1970. This heartfelt song, an expression of remorse and longing, was dedicated to an old friend or perhaps a former lover. In it, Lennon passionately declares, “Now and then, I miss you / Now and then, I want you to return to me.”
Following Lennon’s tragic assassination outside his New York residence in December 1980, Yoko Ono, his widow, entrusted the song to Sir Paul McCartney.
It was discovered on a cassette bearing the label “For Paul,” which also contained early renditions of “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love.” These songs were subsequently refined and released as singles in 1995 and 1996, forming part of The Beatles’ Anthology project.
The band made an initial effort to record “Now And Then,” but the session was swiftly abandoned. Guitarist George Harrison expressed his dissatisfaction with the quality of Lennon’s recording, deeming it “subpar.”
Since that time, Sir Paul has harbored a desire to finish the song, and advancements in audio technology have finally made this aspiration a reality.
The narrative unfolds with the debut of The Beatles’ Get Back documentary in 2021. Director Peter Jackson and his team harnessed innovative software, enabling them to “deconstruct” mono recordings from the 1970s, effectively isolating individual instruments and vocal tracks.
This same cutting-edge technology was employed last year to craft a fresh mix of the band’s iconic album, Revolver. Giles Martin, the producer, disclosed to the BBC that this software incorporates elements of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to disentangle overlapping sounds.
“It must learn to distinguish the unique sound of John Lennon’s guitar, for example, and the more data we provide, the more refined it becomes,” he explained.
Now, this procedure has been applied to the original tape of “Now And Then,” eliminating tape hiss and electrical interference while preserving the essence of Lennon’s performance.
In the preceding year, Sir Paul and Sir Ringo undertook the task of finalizing the song. They contributed new vocals, drums, bass, guitar, and piano, along with electric and acoustic guitar parts originally recorded by Harrison in 1995, prior to his passing.
Giles Martin, the son of the renowned Beatles producer George Martin, also incorporated backing vocals from the initial recordings of “Here, There And Everywhere,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Because,” adding an extra layer of nostalgia to the composition.
The release of “Now And Then” will be heralded by a documentary delving into the song’s creation, scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, November 1st.