The “last Beatles song” comes out tomorrow (11/2), but first, they’ve just released a 12-minute documentary written and directed by Oliver Murray that gives background on how the song came to be. Titled “Now and Then,” it started with a demo that John recorded at his home in the late ’70s with just pianos and vocals, and Yoko Ono passed the demo on to Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in 1994 along with John’s demos for “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” which the surviving trio completed and released as Beatles singles in the ’90s as part of The Beatles Anthology project. They tried to do the same with “Now and Then,” but couldn’t achieve a clear enough mix because John’s vocals couldn’t be separated from his piano playing, and that finally changed in 2022 when Peter Jackson was able to help them do it using the same audio restoration technology he used on his instant-classic Get Back film.
The film includes new interviews with Paul, Ringo, Peter Jackson, and Sean Ono Lennon; and studio footage of The Beatles back in the day, the surviving trio in 1994, and Paul and Ringo in present day. Paul discusses how he added a slide guitar solo done in George’s style, as a tribute to George, and how it features a string arrangement by George Martin’s son Giles Martin. The film also features clips of the finished song, as well as clips of John’s original demo and his isolated vocal track. “To still be working on Beatles music in 2023, wow,” Paul says. Watch “Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song” below for more.
“Now and Then” will be released as a single paired with the first Beatles song, 1962’s “Love Me Do,” on November 2, a music video will premiere on November 3, and the song will also be included in the new expanded reissues of the classic “Red Album” and “Blue Album” compilations, which arrive on November 10. Full tracklists and more info on the reissues here.