Listen to this...
The Beatles, have graced us with their very last song, titled "Now and Then." This four-minute and eight-second track marks the first and only original Beatles recording of the 21st century. It's a poignant moment for fans, as it's been more than four decades since John Lennon's tragic murder and two decades since the passing of George Harrison.
The release of "Now and Then" is part of a double A-side single, coupled with the band's 1962 debut single, "Love Me Do." This long-lost gem was resurrected from a batch of unreleased demos written by John Lennon in the 1970s, which were shared with his former bandmates by Yoko Ono. You might recall that similar tapes were used to create the songs "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love," which were released in the mid-1990s. However, technical limitations prevented the completion of "Now and Then" until now.
A short film titled "The Beatles — Now And Then — The Last Beatles Song" was released to provide insights into the creation of this remarkable track. On the original tape, Lennon's voice was buried beneath other sounds, and the piano was hard to discern. Back in the day, technology wasn't advanced enough to separate these elements.
But in 2022, the remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were able to employ the same technical restoration methods used in Peter Jackson's 2021 documentary series, "The Beatles: Get Back." Using machine learning, they successfully isolated Lennon's voice from the original cassette and finished "Now and Then."
In a June announcement about the song, Paul McCartney described the use of artificial intelligence technology as "kind of scary but exciting." He expressed his fascination with still working on Beatles music in 2023, stating, "We’re actually messing around with state-of-the-art technology, which is something the Beatles would’ve been very interested in."
When you think about it, there's nothing really more Beatles-esque than challenge the current day's modern methodology of music recording, to create something that has never been done before.
Ringo Starr added his perspective, dispelling rumors that they had fabricated Lennon's contributions, emphasizing that "This is the last track, ever, that you’ll get the four Beatles on the track. John, Paul, George, and Ringo."
McCartney and Starr collaborated to build the track from Lennon's demo, incorporating guitar parts written by George Harrison during the 1995 sessions and a slide guitar solo in his distinctive style. A string arrangement was crafted with the assistance of Giles Martin, the son of the late Beatles producer George Martin, evoking the classic ambitiousness of their earlier works.
An official music video for "Now and Then," directed by Peter Jackson, is set to premiere on the Beatles' YouTube channel. This video features footage of McCartney and Starr performing, long-forgotten footage from the 1995 recording sessions, and previously unreleased home movie footage provided by Lennon's son Sean and George's wife, Olivia Harrison.
In the end, "Now and Then" offers fans a bittersweet glimpse into the Beatles' timeless magic and innovation, marking a poignant end to their musical journey.
I'm not gonna lie, when I listened to it, and then watched the short film... I teared up...