The Beatles’ “final song” – featuring all four members – has been released this afternoon.
Fans across the world were eagerly awaiting the release of the track Now And Then, originally written and recorded by John Lennon in the late 1970s.
The song is being issued as a double A-side single with the band’s 1962 debut Love Me Do.
After Lennon’s murder in 1980 aged 40, his wife Yoko Ono gave the tape to the rest of the band, along with rough recordings of Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were reworked and released in the mid-1990s.
During this time, the surviving Beatles members – including George Harrison who died in 2001 – also developed Now And Then but did not release it. They blamed the limited technology that caused problems clearly extracting Lennon’s vocals.
But new audio restoration technology has allowed Lennon’s original demo to be cleaned up and used, alongside Harrison’s electric and acoustic guitar recordings for the song from 1995.
A music video, directed by Peter Jackson, will also be released tomorrow that will feature unseen footage of the band, including what he describes as the earliest known film of The Beatles.
Jackson was instrumental in developing the technology that allowed the extraction of Lennon’s vocals. The technology was first used in the director’s 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back about the making of the band’s final album Let It Be.
In it, Sir Paul recalled how the band initially developed the song in the 1990s.
“George and Ringo came down to my studio. Nice day. Fabulous day. We listened to the track,” he said.
“There’s John in his apartment in New York City, banging away at his piano, doing a little demo.
“Is it something we shouldn’t do? Every time I thought like that, I thought wait a minute. Let’s say I had a chance to ask John, ‘Hey John, would you like us to finish this last song of yours?’ I’m telling you, I know the answer would’ve been: ‘Yeah!’ He would’ve loved that.”
Sir Paul said in the documentary when he and Sir Ringo returned to work on Now And Then, “all of those memories come flooding back”.
“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.”
“We’re actually messing around with state-of-the-art technology, which is something The Beatles would have 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 Beatles recording.”
Fans can listen to the track can access it on all streaming sites including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music, as well as on The Beatles channel on YouTube.
CD, vinyl and cassette copies will be available tomorrow.
Next Friday, two albums – remastered and expanded versions of the 1962-66 and 1967-70 collections – will also be released.