The Beatles' new and last song: "Now and Then"
"The Beatles, one of the most iconic bands in the history of music, left an indelible mark on the world with their songs. However, every story eventually comes to an end. And this band seemed to have reached it... until now.
"Now and Then" is the last song that the Beatles could create together thanks to technology, a track that not only encapsulates their musical genius but also serves as a symbol of enduring friendship and innovation.
The story of "Now and Then" began with the discovery of a John Lennon vocal demo in 1994, unearthed from a homemade cassette. The demo, dating back to 1979, shed light on Lennon's creative spirit just a year before his tragic murder on December 8, 1980. This cassette recording, handed by Yoko Ono, hinted at a piece of music history waiting to be uncovered.
Fast forward to the mid-'90s, and the Beatles were back in the spotlight with the release of the "Anthology" film, compilations, and book. This project aimed to provide an alternate history of the band through interviews and unreleased material. Two "new" Beatles songs, "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love," were created using John Lennon's demos. However, a third song, "Now and Then," remained in the shadows due to technical limitations. The demo's poor quality, with a dominant piano and background hum, made it difficult to polish at the time.
It wasn't until 2022 that "Now and Then" was resurrected from the annals of Beatles history. By this time, George Harrison had also passed away (in 2001), leaving Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as the surviving members of the legendary band.
Peter Jackson and his team introduced Paul McCartney to groundbreaking technology that could isolate and enhance individual components of audio tracks through machine learning. This innovation allowed them to separate John Lennon's voice from the piano and hum on the "Now and Then" demo, a feat previously considered impossible, and allowed them to regulate his voice individually. Paul and Ringo, realizing the potential of this newfound AI technology, embarked on a mission to complete the unfinished Beatles song.
McCartney and Starr joined forces to bring "Now and Then" to life. They revisited the song with renewed vigor, enlisting the help of musicians to recreate the original vibe without revealing that they were working on a new Beatles track. Giles Martin worked on the arrangements, and the recording process remained a well-guarded secret. A significant addition to the song was a guitar solo from George Harrison, kept from a 1995 recording, serving as a heartfelt tribute to their departed bandmate.
With all the pieces finally coming together, Paul McCartney remarked, "To still be working on Beatles' music in 2023... wow. We are actually messing around with state-of-the-art technology, which is something the Beatles would've been very interested in. 'Now and Then' is probably the last Beatles song, and we've all played on it, so it is a genuine Beatles recording."
"Now and Then" is a testament to the timelessness of the Beatles' music and the power of technology to resurrect a long-lost gem. In the video clip we can see them all together one last time thanks to a green screen that makes the timelines collide. This final record reminds us that even when the curtain falls on a legendary career, the music lives on.