The Beatles have mixed a bit of yesterday and today to create their final single, "Now and Then."
The track, which Paul McCartney announced this summer, was written and sung by John Lennon before his death in 1980, and then McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the late George Harrison built on it in the 1990s. Last year, with the help of some audio technology Peter Jackson used to create his Beatles documentary, Get Back, Starr and McCartney were able to isolate Lennon's original vocals and complete the track once and for all.
"There it was, John's voice, crystal clear. It's quite emotional," McCartney said in a press release. "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."
Added Starr, "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."
"Now and Then," which will be released Nov. 2, features Lennon's vocals as well as electric and acoustic guitar work Harrison recorded in 1995. Starr provided a new drum part and backing vocals, while McCartney sang and played bass, piano, and guitar on the track, creating a slide guitar solo for the song inspired by Harrison.
Keen listeners will also be able to hear backing vocals from the original recordings of Beatles hits "Here, There and Everywhere," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Because," which have been delicately woven into 'Now and Then.'
George Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison, said in a statement that because of the "technical issues" with Lennon's demo, George thought it wasn't possible to "finish the track to a high enough standard" before his death in 2001. "If he were here today, Dhani [Harrison, the couple's son] and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of 'Now And Then.'"
Lennon's son Sean Ono Lennon said it was "incredibly touching" to hear the Beatles together again. "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."
Ahead of the track's release, the Beatles have displayed projections all around Liverpool in England and announced that a 12-minute documentary, Now and Then – The Last Beatles Song, will be released Nov. 1 on YouTube.
In a teaser trailer, McCartney reflects on his friendships with Lennon and Harrison, asking, "How lucky was I to have those men in my life?"
Physical copies of "Now and Then" will also include the band's 1962 debut single, "Love Me Do" — a nod to both the beginning and the end of the Beatles' legendary discography.
Watch the trailer for the documentary above.
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