The Last Beatles Song ‘Now And Then’ Has Arrived – Listen
On Thursday (Nov. 2), The Beatles released what is being called "the last Beatles song" by the surviving band members — a new recording titled "Now and Then" that builds on an original '70s John Lennon demo and includes later contributions from the other three Beatles.
Similar to how "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" from the mid-'90s Beatles Anthology were birthed from Lennon demos, "Now and Then" takes that same approach, with one caveat — Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and their engineers reportedly used AI (artificial intelligence) to help clean up Lennon's vocal, a technology unavailable at the time of the Anthology.
Hear the song near the bottom of this post.
McCartney first spoke of "Now and Then" in June. Calling it "the final Beatles record" on Radio 4's Today, he explained how AI was used to "extricate" Lennon's voice from the old demo recording in order to complete the song, according to the BBC.
Later that same month, McCartney clarified what he meant about AI's role in the process. "We've seen some confusion and speculation about it," he said. "To be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created. It's all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings — a process which has gone on for years. We hope you love it as much as we do."
A music video for "Now and Then" is due out Friday (Nov. 3). A mini-doc video about the making of the song was premiered ahead of the release on Wednesday (Nov. 1) — watch it down underneath the tune.
From a press 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,' which 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.
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; he and Ringo also contributed backing vocals to the chorus.
The Beatles, "Now and Then"
The Beatles, Now and Then - The Last Beatles Song (Short Film)
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Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp