“Now and Then”: The Beatles’ Swan Song with a Modern Twist
The Beatles’ Legacy Continues with AI’s Touch
John Lennon’s creation, “Now and Then,” has been brought to life with the combined efforts of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and the magic of Artificial Intelligence.
The Anticipation Ends
Earlier in June, Paul McCartney shared he had recorded what he called the Beatles’ last song, made with the assistance of AI software. The long-awaited “Now and Then” will drop on November 2 at 10 a.m. Eastern, courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe.
This masterpiece will be digitally accessible and also as a double A-side single in various formats, including 7″ vinyl, 12″ vinyl, and cassette. It pairs with the band’s debut single from 1962, “Love Me Do.” A sneak peek into the song’s journey will be available on November 1 through a 12-minute documentary. Oliver Murray, the man behind the short film, offers a trailer for enthusiasts. Watch it below:
The Song’s Genesis
Back in 1978, John Lennon recorded “Now and Then” as a raw demo in his Dakota residence in New York. This initial version was a simple blend of Lennon’s vocals and piano. In 1994, Yoko Ono handed this demo, along with others like “Free as a Bird and Real Love,” to McCartney, Harrison, and Starr. They collaborated with Jeff Lynne, the brain behind Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), to enhance “Now and Then.” However, the technology back then posed challenges in isolating Lennon’s voice from the piano.
Fast forward to recent years, after collaborating with Peter Jackson on the Get Back documentary, McCartney and Starr decided to revisit “Now and Then.” With AI’s assistance, Jackson’s team successfully isolated Lennon’s vocals. McCartney expressed, “There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording.”
Ringo Starr echoed the sentiment, “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.”
The Final Touches
In 2022, McCartney and Starr finalized “Now and Then.” The song boasts of Harrison’s electric and acoustic guitar from 1995, Starr’s new drum segment and backing vocals, and McCartney’s multifaceted contribution, including a slide guitar solo, a tribute to Harrison.
Olivia, George Harrison’s wife, 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, Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of ‘Now and Then.’”
Sean Ono Lennon, John Lennon’s son, remarked, “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.”
The songs “Now and Then” and “Love Me Do” come in stereo and Dolby Atmos, featuring original artwork by Ed Ruscha. An accompanying music video for “Now and Then” is set to launch on November 3. Additionally, revamped versions of 1962-1966 (The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (The Blue Album), featuring “Now and Then,” will hit the shelves on November 10.