The Beatles have released what is being described as their final new song together, called “Now and Then.”
It is the last of a series of songs written by John Lennon, and handed to Paul McCartney by Yoko Ono in demo form on cassette in 1994. The cassette also featured demos for “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” Those two songs were completed and released as singles in 1995 and 1996. However, at that time the band struggled to complete a song from the demo of “Now and Then” and abandoned the attempt. McCartney explained the difficulties the band faced in 1995:
“On John’s demo tape, the piano was a little hard to hear. And in those days, of course, we didn’t have the technology to do the separation … we kind of ran out of steam a bit, and time. Now and Then just languished in a cupboard.”
However, during the making of The Beatles’ 2021 “Get Back” documentary, director Peter Jackson’s film company developed a piece of software that allowed them to “de-mix” muddled recordings of overlapping sounds. For “Now And Then,” the software was able to “lift” Lennon’s voice from the original cassette recording, removing the background hiss and the hum of the mains electricity that had hampered previous attempts to complete the song.
Paul McCartney re-recorded the piano parts Lennon played on the demo and added a guitar solo in the style of George Harrison, as well as the bass, percussion and harpsichord. Ringo Starr recorded new drum parts for it, while the late George Harrison features via rhythm guitar parts kept from the failed 1995 recordings. Strings have also been added, as well as some newly recorded background vocals. Some older background vocals have also been used, including some from the song “Eleanor Rigby.”
A short documentary which explains the creative process behind “Now and Then” has been released on Youtube.
“Now and Then by The Beatles is new this week on Radiohan.