After months of anticipation, the music world is abuzz with excitement as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have unveiled ‘Now And Then.’ This track marks a significant moment in music history, as it is the final song from The Beatles to feature all four original members.
The ‘Now And Then’ project was first teased by Paul McCartney back in June when he confirmed that he was collaborating with Ringo Starr on a new track that would serve as the ultimate addition to The Beatles’ illustrious discography. The title ‘Now And Then’ is derived from a demo tape originally recorded by the late John Lennon. The magic of artificial intelligence played a pivotal role in bringing this track to life, as it lifted John Lennon’s vocals from the initial recording, enabling McCartney and Starr to collaborate with their late bandmate once more.
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The excitement surrounding this project has been steadily building for months, with both McCartney and Starr offering glimpses into their work. Ringo Starr, for instance, shared that he found the project “beautiful,” and later, he expressed that working on the single was “like having John Lennon back.”
Their teases of the project’s imminent release reached a crescendo when they shared images of a cassette tape across various social media platforms and projections in their hometown of Liverpool.
On 1st November, a short film was broadcast on ‘The One Show’ and The Beatles’ YouTube Channel. This documentary delves into the history behind the track and chronicles how ‘Now And Then’ was brought to life. In the video, Paul McCartney recalls the origins of the song, tracing it back to John Lennon’s New York City home in the late ’70s. The original recording featured nothing more than Lennon’s piano and vocals. After Lennon’s untimely passing, his wife Yoko Ono handed the recording, along with the demos for ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love,’ to McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in 1994.
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The latter two demos were eventually released as ‘new’ Beatles tracks in the mid-’90s as part of The Beatles’ ‘Anthology’ project. However, ‘Now And Then’ faced a different fate. The surviving members, along with producer Jeff Lynne, attempted to record new parts and complete a rough mix of the song. But, they were stymied by “technological limitations” that prevented them from cleanly separating Lennon’s vocals and piano for a suitable mix.
“It took almost a quarter of a century for us to wait until the right moment to tackle ‘Now And Then’ again,” McCartney explained in the video. His collaboration with filmmaker Peter Jackson on the 2021 ‘Get Back’ docu-series rekindled the desire to revisit the track and make it work.
‘Now And Then’ is being marketed as a double A-side with The Beatles’ 1962 debut UK single, ‘Love Me Do.’ This pairing beautifully combines their first single with their last, creating a sense of poetic closure for the band and its fans.
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A music video directed by Peter Jackson is set for release on 3rd November. This video will include new footage of McCartney and Starr, along with recently unearthed footage of all four members of the legendary band. The making-of-film, released earlier, offers a tantalizing glimpse behind the scenes.
In the documentary, Ringo Starr captures the essence of the project, saying, “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room.”
Paul McCartney also shared his doubts about completing songs from Lennon’s demos, out of respect for the late songwriter’s unfinished work. However, he ultimately realized that if given the chance to ask John Lennon, the answer would undoubtedly be a resounding “Yes.” This realization fuelled their determination to finish what John had started.