"Now And Then" will be released worldwide at 2 p.m. GMT / 10 a.m. EDT / 7 a.m. PDT on Thursday, November 2, 2023 by Apple Corps Ltd./ Capitol/UMe. But what is "Now and Then"? It is the last The Beatles song, which is written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and now finally finished by Paul and Ringo over four decades later.
The double A-side single pairs the last BEATLES song with the first: the band's 1962 debut U.K. single "Love Me Do", a truly fitting full-circle counterpart to "Now And Then". Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos, and the release features original cover art by renowned artist Ed Ruscha. The new music video for "Now And Then" will debut on Friday, November 3. More details including global premiere plans will be announced.
A 12-minute "Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song" documentary film, written and directed by Oliver Murray, will debut on November 1, 2023.
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.
Cut to 2021, and the release of "The Beatles: Get Back" docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, which astonished viewers with its award-winning film and audio restoration. Using WingNut Films' MAL audio technology, Jackson's team had de-mixed the film's mono soundtrack, managing to isolate instruments and vocals, and all the individual voices within THE BEATLES' conversations. This achievement opened the way to 2022's new mix of "Revolver", sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. This led on to a question: what could now be done with the "Now And Then" demo? Peter Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile De La Rey, applied the same technique to John's original home recording, preserving the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.
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.
In Los Angeles, Paul oversaw a Capitol Studios recording session for the song's wistful, quintessentially BEATLES string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, Paul and Ben Foster. Paul and Giles also added one last, wonderfully subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of "Here, There And Everywhere", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Because", woven into the new song using the techniques perfected during the making of the "Love" show and album. The finished track was produced by Paul and Giles, and mixed by Spike Stent.