Emotional Beatles fans broke down at the release of Now And Then – their ‘masterpiece’ new and final song sung by John Lennon that debuted this afternoon on the BBC and online today after 45 years in the making.
Sir Paul McCartney said recording Now and Then felt like they were all back together again, declaring today: ‘It’s probably the last Beatles song, and we have all played on it so it is a genuine Beatles recording’.
Today at 2pm, the band’s ‘new’ single Now and Then was released to the exultation and excitement of tens of millions of excited fans. Listening parties have been held all over the world, including in their home city of Liverpool at the Cavern Club and The Beatles’ Museum on Albert Dock.
Liam Gallagher tweeted: ‘Now n Then absolutely incredible biblical celestial heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time long live The Beatles LG x’
BBC Radio 2 listeners, the first to hear it in the UK, said they were in tears hearing the Fab Four singing together again. One, Gemma from Nottingham, said: ‘Just wow. I got the shivers when I heard the one, two at the beginning of the track. That was amazing. I’m actually feeling a little bit emotional now’.
Another said: ‘I’m in tears listening to the new Beatles track. Let’s hope we have the Fab Four for Christmas number one’. A third fan said: ‘I’m only in my mid 30s but The Beatles were a massive part of my childhood with my parents listening to them, and now this new song. I’m in tears, it sounds so haunting yet so beautiful’.
LISTEN TO THE NEW BEATLES SONG BELOW
Tears of a Beatles fan in Liverpool this afternoon as she listens the new, and final, Beatles song as it was played today
Emotional fans listen with tears in their eyes at a party at The Beatles’ Museum in Liverpool today
Liam Gallagher led the reviews, and loved it as did millions of others
Back in the studio! The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon ‘s death. Sir Paul McCartney pictured in the 1990s with George Harrison, who played the guitar track before he died
Demo: The band are releasing the track, Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before it was unearthed by his wife in the Nineties (pictured)
Referencing George Harrison ‘s death, he said: ‘In 2001 we lost George, which took the wind out of our sails, it took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again’
Now And Then is based on vocals recorded by John Lennon on to a cassette before his death. George Harrison, who died in 2001, played the guitar in the 1995 and 1996 ‘Free as a Bird’ sessions. In 2023, Sir Paul McCartney played the bass and Ringo the drums in after director Peter Jackson used audio restoration technology that allowed for Lennon’s vocals to be used without distortion.
Students were allowed to listen to the first play in class today. At Lourdes Secondary School in Glasgow they stopped what they were doing, listened to it and clapped at the end.
Many shed tears over the song.
Broadcaster Lauren Laverne said: ‘I cried like a baby. And I never cry. It’s global treasure, isn’t it? I couldn’t get over the resonance of the title: to have this final track that’s arrived out of the mists of time, which takes us back to the beginning of this amazing story – this story that’s become part of our national character.
‘It’s the story of Britain in the 20th century, I think. Lads from an industrial city who represent so strongly what Britain did, as we moved from this industrial country to being a place where arts and culture is made. Which is very much what we’re about now: this is a place where ideas are born. They represent this story about Britain, about who we all are. They represent us’.
Last night, surviving Beatles Sir Paul McCartney, 81, and Sir Ringo Starr, 83, released a short film expanding on how they made the track, written by Lennon. John began recording the vocals in the late 1970s and 14 years after he was shot dead in 1980, his widow Yoko Ono gave the tapes to Paul.
The technical issues with turning the vocals into a complete track were considered insurmountable by George, who died in 2001. But the feat has now been accomplished with the help of artificial intelligence technology that was used to better isolate John’s voice.
Paul and Ringo then added new parts, including drums, bass, backing vocals and a slide guitar solo inspired by George.
Talking on the short film which premiered on the One Show on Wednesday, Sir Paul said: ‘When we lost John we knew it was really over.’
He added: ‘In 2001 we lost George, which took the wind out of our sails, it took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again.’
A fan listens, looking emotional, as he hears John Lennon’s haunting vocals
Many fans enjoyed the new song Now and Then
Others were not wholly convinced
Using new technology, which was used during the production of docu-series Get Back, the band were able to separate voices and instruments, giving them hope of working on the track again.
Speaking about hearing John’s voice again for the first time, Ringo said: ‘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.’
A video of John recording the demo at his home in New York’s Dakota Building was given to the rest of the the band in 1994.
It included 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.
In 2021, docuseries The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson, was released and viewers were stunned by its award-winning film and audio restoration.
Finally made it! Now And Then was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited
Heartfelt: During the short film, Paul explained that within minutes, John’s voice was heard ringing around the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person
It’s not over yet! Talking on the short film which premiered on the One Show on Wednesday, Paul McCartney said: ‘When we lost John we knew it was really over’
Band: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time
Back to work: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on prior to his death, some of which they released at the time
Questions: 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? (John pictured with Yoko)
Using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology, Mr 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?
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.
During the short film, Paul explained that within minutes John’s voice was heard ringing around the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person.
In 2022, Paul and Ringo set about completing it. 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 and 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, Sir Paul and Ben Foster.
Sir 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’.
They were 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.
Sir Paul said: ‘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.’
Now and Then will also be available on a newly-mastered version of the band’s Red And Blue album, which is due for release on November 10.
Release: News of the final song was announced earlier this summer but it has been confirmed it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills’ radio show on BBC R2
The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York on February 9, 1964
Later this month, expanded versions of the Beatles’ compilations from 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 will be released.
Now and Then, despite coming much later than 1970, will be added to the latter collection.
The surviving Beatles have released new projects, such as remixes of their old albums that include studio outtakes as well as Jackson’s Get Back film, timed to appeal to nostalgic fans around the holiday season.
But this will mark the last one.
‘This is the last track, ever, that you’ll get the four Beatles on the track. John, Paul, George, and Ringo,’ Ringo said in a recent interview with Associated Press.