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The Beatles’ ‘last’ song ‘Now and Then’ is being released. Here’s what we know

4 weeks ago
2 mins read
“Now and Then” features the sound of all four band members, including the voice of the late John Lennon and a guitar solo from the late George Harrison. (John Pratt/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The day has finally come for the worldwide release of what’s been described as The Beatles’ final song, “Now and Then,” featuring the voice of the late singer-songwriter John Lennon.

The track featuring the sound of every member of the British rock group will be released at 2 p.m. GMT (10 a.m. ET), with the music video debuting on Friday, according to The Beatles.

Lennon wrote and recorded the song at his home in New York City in the late 1970s, and his wife Yoko Ono gave the demo to the remaining Beatles members in 1994, explained the band in a short film on the making of the song released on YouTube Wednesday.

Lennon died in 1980 at the age of 40 after being shot outside of his apartment building in New York City.

Guitarist George Harrison said in the film: “To hear John’s voice, that’s a thing that we should cherish, and I’m sure he would’ve really enjoyed that opportunity to be with us again.”

“It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room,” added drummer Ringo Starr.

The track was then worked on by Paul McCartney, Starr and Harrison until 1995, but they were unable to separate Lennon’s voice from the sound of a piano in the track.

“I think we kind of ran out of steam a bit, and time,” McCartney said, adding that “Now and Then” ended up languishing in a cupboard for years after that.

Harrison died in 2001, “which kind of took the wind out of our sails,” said McCartney in the film. It took McCartney and Starr more than two decades to begin working on the song again.

AI was used to isolate Lennon’s voice from a demo track for the Peter Jackson-directed 2021 docuseries “The Beatles: Get Back” about the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album “Let It Be.”

McCartney then redid the bass, Ringo added the drums, and strings were added by musicians at Capitol Studios, who were kept in the dark about it being for a new Beatles song. The band also kept Harrison’s guitar parts from 1995 and made a slide guitar solo in Harrison’s style as a “tribute,” McCartney said in the film.

“All of those memories come flooding back,” McCartney said. “How lucky was I to have those men in my life and to work with those men so intimately and to come up with such a body of music.”

“To still be working on Beatles music in 2023 – wow,” McCartney said.

“We’re actually messing around with state of the art technology, which is something The Beatles would’ve been very interested in. ‘Now and Then’ it’s probably, like, the last Beatles song, and we’ve all played on it, so it is a genuine Beatle recording,” added McCartney.

Lennon’s son, Sean, said: “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that my dad had been gone.”

“It’s the last song that my dad and Paul, and George, and Ringo, will get to make together,” he added.

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