The Beatles release new song 'Now and Then': Listen to the Fab Four's final track

3 November 2023, 13:56

The Beatles' final record 'Now and Then'
The Beatles' final record 'Now and Then'. Picture: The Beatles/Apple/Getty

By Tom Eames

The Beatles are back with a track that has been 45 years in the making.

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The Beatles have today (November 2) released their final song.

'Now and Then' can be heard right now below, which features all four members of the Fab Four together one last time.

The Beatles - Now And Then

The story behind the song began with a solo demo recorded by John Lennon in the late 1970s. A tape of this demo was given to Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, in the early 1990s.

During the Anthology project, the three surviving Beatles worked on other Lennon demos, creating 'new' Beatles songs such as 'Free As A Bird' and 'Real Love'. However, due to issues with the quality of the tape, they abandoned the work on 'Now and Then'.

Thanks to the de-mixing technology developed for Peter Jackson's innovative Get Back series, Paul and Ringo were able to revisit the sessions. They added new elements to John's original demo and incorporated their previous work from 1995.

The final rendition features John Lennon and Paul McCartney sharing lead vocals, with Paul contributing bass, slide guitar, piano, electric harpsichord, and shaker. George Harrison plays acoustic and electric guitars, Ringo Starr handles drums, tambourine, and shaker, and all four Beatles provide backing vocals.

The song includes a string arrangement by Paul, Giles Martin, and Ben Foster. The finished track is produced by Paul and Giles, with an additional production credit for Jeff Lynne, likely for his contributions when the song was being considered for the Anthology project.

Watch the trailer for Now and Then - The Last Beatles Song

Reflecting on the recording process, Paul remarked, "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."

Ringo added: "It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It's far out."

Speaking on behalf of her late husband, Olivia Harrison shared, "Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard. If he were here today, [our son] Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of 'Now And Then'."

John and Yoko's son Sean Ono Lennon expressed, "It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that Dad had been gone. It's the last song my dad, Paul, George, and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be."

And in the end... The Beatles in 1969
And in the end... The Beatles in 1969. Picture: Apple Corps

A music video for the song, directed by Peter Jackson of Get Back, will be available to watch tomorrow (November 3). It will feature the earliest known footage of the band during their leather-clad days.

Fans interested in owning the song can choose from various single variants, including vinyl, cassette, or CD. Alternatively, they can purchase the remixed and reissued 1967-1970 (aka The Blue Album), where 'Now And Then' is included as the final track.