In a remarkable fusion of technology, nostalgia, and musical genius, The Beatles are set to release their much-anticipated “final” song, “Now and Then,” featuring all four members. What makes this release even more astonishing is that it owes its existence to the same AI technology that enhanced the audio in Peter Jackson’s documentary, “Get Back.”
Paul McCartney, one of the surviving members of the legendary band, couldn’t hide his excitement as he commented, “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.”
“Now and Then” has a rich history. The song was penned and sung by John Lennon in the late 1970s, right in his home at the Dakota building in New York City. Fast forward to 1994, and Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, presented the world with a musical treasure. She handed over a cassette labeled “For Paul,” which contained not only Lennon’s demo for “Now and Then” but also his demos for “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love.”
While the latter two songs were successfully completed by McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison and released as singles as part of the Beatles Anthology project, “Now and Then” faced a unique challenge. Technological limitations stood in the way, preventing the separation of Lennon’s vocals and piano from the demo to seamlessly integrate new parts recorded by the other three Beatles. As a result, the track was, regrettably, shelved.
The resurrection of “Now and Then” is not only a testament to the enduring legacy of The Beatles but also a celebration of technology’s power to bridge time and space. It’s an exciting reminder that even in the present day, the world can still be gifted with the magic of The Beatles, uniting generations of fans with a piece of music history that transcends the boundaries of time.
Voice of John Lennon (1977, in his home in New York).
Voices of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (2022).
Vocal harmonies by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1966 and 1969: parts taken from Eleanor Rigby, Here There and Everywhere, Because).
Guitars played by George Harrison (1995, in the initial attempts to record it with McCartney and Ringo Starr).
Bass, guitar, piano played by Paul McCartney (2022).
Drums played by Ringo Starr (2022).
Strings played by Los Angeles musicians, on an arrangement by Giles Martin and Paul McCartney, conducted by Ben Foster (a name that might ring a bell for Peter Gabriel followers)