The Beatles Release ‘Now and Then’: The Final Chapter in Their Musical Legacy
The story of “Now And Then” unravels like a treasured yarn from the tapestry of music history, originating from the late 1970s in John Lennon’s Dakota Building home in New York. Amidst the hum of city life, Lennon crafted a demo that would lie in wait for decades. In 1994, this demo, along with the seeds of “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” was entrusted to Paul, George, and Ringo by Yoko Ono Lennon. These tracks, once dormant, would later blossom, marking The Beatles’ resurgence in the ’90s through the Anthology project.
Resurrecting The Beatles’ Unfinished Melody
Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, alongside producer Jeff Lynne, dared to weave the unfinished tapestry with “Now And Then.” Yet, the technology of the time could not polish the raw diamonds of Lennon’s vocals and piano. The song was shelved, its future uncertain, waiting for a technological muse to awaken its slumbering beauty.
The MAL Revolution: Reviving Lennon’s Voice
Fast forward to 2021, and Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back docuseries dazzled the world with its restoration brilliance. The same MAL audio technology that de-mixed mono soundtracks for the series later refined “Revolver’s” four-track master tapes. Inspired by this, the question arose: could “Now And Then” be given the same treatment? Indeed, it could—and it was. John Lennon’s voice was gently extricated from its piano accompaniment, preserving the purity of his original performance.
A Labor of Love: Completing “Now And Then”
In 2022, the dedication of Paul and Ringo saw “Now And Then” flourish. Alongside Lennon’s voice were George’s guitar recordings from 1995, Ringo’s fresh drum beats, and Paul’s multi-instrumental homage matching Lennon’s original tones. With a slide guitar solo by Paul, echoing George’s style, and backing vocals from both Paul and Ringo, “Now And Then” evolved into a genuine Beatles recording.
An Orchestral Nod to The Beatles’ Essence
Los Angeles’ Capitol Studios bore witness to the creation of the song’s string arrangement—a collective brainchild of Giles Martin, Paul, and Ben Foster. An ethereal layer was added with backing vocals from iconic songs like “Here, There And Everywhere,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Because,” seamlessly integrated using techniques honed during the LOVE show and album’s production.
The Beatles’ Heartbeat: Insights from McCartney and Starr
Paul McCartney reflects on the experience with an emotional tenor, marveling at the clarity of Lennon’s voice and the timeless nature of their collaboration. Ringo Starr echoes this sentiment, feeling the proximity of Lennon’s spirit in their studio gathering.
The Beatles Speak Through Generations
Paul McCartney articulates the emotional resonance of the project, stating, “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.”
Olivia Harrison provides insight into George’s initial concerns over the demo’s quality, and expresses certainty that George would have been elated to partake in this final Beatles chapter.
Sean Ono Lennon adds a personal touch, noting the deep emotional connection felt hearing his father play with his old friends once again, saying, “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.”
Revisiting The Anthology: “Red” and “Blue” Albums Reborn
With the arrival of “Now And Then,” the revered ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ albums will be reissued, now enriched with 21 additional tracks. These compilations will continue to initiate and delight Beatles enthusiasts, weaving the old with the new.
Behind the Hits: McCartney’s Intimate Revelations
For aficionados and casual listeners alike, our Behind the Hits podcast offers a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Paul McCartney opens up about the journey of “Now and Then,” the MAL technology’s role in his recent Got Back tour, and his emotive reflections on songwriting with Lennon. This episode isn’t just a listening experience; it’s a voyage through the heart of musical history.
Credits Roll for “Now And Then”
The contributions to “Now And Then” span the spectrum of musical genius—featuring the original Beatles, producers, and engineers who’ve turned the dream into reality. The credits list reads as a testament to the collaborative spirit that has always been The Beatles’ signature.
Produced by: Paul McCartney, Giles Martin
Additional Production: Jeff Lynne
Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Backing Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Guitars: George Harrison
Guitars, Bass, Piano, Electric Harpsichord, Shaker: Paul McCartney
Drums, Tambourine, Shaker: Ringo Starr
String Arrangement: Paul McCartney, Giles Martin, Ben Foster
Mixed by: Spike Stent
Engineered by: Geoff Emerick, Steve Orchard, Greg McAllister, Jon Jacobs, Steve Genewick, Bruce Sugar, Keith Smith
Source Separation / MAL Courtesy of: WingNut Films Productions Ltd.
Head of Machine Learning: Emile de la Rey
Project Management: Adam Sharp
Recording and Mastering:
Recorded at: Hog Hill Studio, Capitol Studios, and Roccabella West