The Beatles’ final song, Now And Then, will be released on November 2.
The song was written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and now finally finished by McCartney and Starr over four decades later.
Now And Then will be released worldwide at 2pm GMT on November 2 by Apple Corps/Capitol/UMe. Excitement has been building since June, when McCartney first teased “a new Beatles song” in a media interview.
The double A-side single pairs the last Beatles song with the first: the band’s 1962 debut UK single, Love Me Do. Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos, and the release features original cover art by Ed Ruscha.
The new music video for Now And Then will debut on Friday, November 3.
A 12-minute documentary, Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song, written and directed by Oliver Murray, will premiere on November 1. The film’s global online premiere will be hosted on The Beatles’ YouTube channel at 7:30pm GMT. The trailer is available to watch now.
The stereo mixes will be released on digital download, streaming, seven-inch black and coloured vinyl (light blue, clear), and 12-inch black vinyl. Limited edition Beatles Store exclusives are available as cassette, seven-inch blue and white marbled vinyl. Dolby Atmos mixes will be released on digital and streaming.
As well as the new single, The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (The Blue Album) collections will be released in 2023 edition packages on November 10. The two compilations have been an introduction to The Beatles for the last 50 years.
Both collections’ tracklists have been expanded, with all the songs mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos. New 4CD and 180-gram 6LP vinyl collections pair the Red and Blue albums in slipcased sets.
The UK single version of Love Me Do now kicks off 1962-1966 (2023 Edition), and Now And Then is featured on 1967-1970 (2023 Edition) to complete the career-spanning collections.
The story of Now And Then began in the late 1970s, when John 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 Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, along with Lennon’s demos for Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were both completed as new Beatles songs and released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project.
At the same time, the surviving Beatles 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 mix needed to finish the song. As a result, the track was shelved.
In 2021, for the release of The Beatles: Get Back docuseries, director Peter Jackson and his team used WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology to de-mix the film’s mono soundtrack, managing to isolate instruments and vocals, and all the individual voices within The Beatles conversations.
This achievement opened the way to 2022’s new mix of Revolver, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. Peter Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique to John Lennon’s original home recording of Now And Then, preserving the clarity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.
In 2022, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr set about completing the song. Besides Lennon’s vocal, Now And Then includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by George Harrison, Ringo Starr’s new drum part, and bass, guitar and piano from McCartney, which matches Lennon’s original playing. McCartney added a slide guitar solo inspired by George Harrison; he and Ringo Starr also contributed backing vocals to the chorus.
In Los Angeles, Paul McCartney oversaw a Capitol Studios recording session for the song’s string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, McCartney and Ben Foster. McCartney and Giles Martin also added backing vocals from the original recordings of Here, There And Everywhere, Eleanor Rigby and Because, woven into the new song using the techniques perfected during the making of the Love show and album. The finished track was produced by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, and mixed by Spike Stent.
Paul McCartney said: “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 Starr said: “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.”
Olivia Harrison said: “Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard. If he were here today, Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of Now And Then.”
Sean Ono Lennon said: “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 Credits:
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
Recorded at Recorded at Hog Hill Studio, Capitol Studios and Roccabella West
Mastered by Miles Showell