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Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr announce the final Beatles song, "Now and Then"

26 October 2023, 14:17 | Written by Tyler Damara Kelly

“Now And Then” is the last Beatles song – written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and now finally finished by Paul and Ringo over four decades later.

The double A-side single pairs the last Beatles song with the first: the band’s 1962 debut UK single, “Love Me Do,” a truly fitting full-circle counterpart to “Now And Then.” Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos®, and the release features original cover art by renowned artist Ed Ruscha.

A 12-minute Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song documentary film, written and directed by Oliver Murray, coincides with the release. The film’s global online premiere will be hosted on The Beatles’ YouTube channel on 1 November at 7:30pm GMT. This poignant short film tells the story behind the last Beatles song, with exclusive footage and commentary from Paul, Ringo, George Harrison, Sean Ono Lennon and Peter Jackson.

The story of “Now And Then” begins in the late 1970s, when Lennon recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home in New York’s Dakota Building. In 1994, his wife, Yoko Ono Lennon, gave the recording to McCartney, Harrison and Starr, along with Lennon’s 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, McCartney, Harrison and Starr also recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for “Now And Then” with producer Jeff Lynne. At that point, technological limitations prevented Lennon’s vocals and piano from being separated to achieve the clear, unclouded mix needed to finish the song. Cut to 2021, and the release of The Beatles: Get Back docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, which astonished viewers with its award-winning film and audio restoration. Using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology, 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.

Peter Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique to Lennon’s original home recording, preserving the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano. McCartney says: “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.”

Ringo says: “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," whilst Sean Ono Lennon adds: “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.”

“Now And Then” / “Love Me Do” double A-side single is available to pre-order now.

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