Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song written and directed by Oliver Murray, was aired on the The One Show on BBC One and YouTube tonight.
The poignant 12 minute film, which you can view below, was broadcast as part of a series of programmes on the BBC to celebrate the legacy of The Beatles.
Paul McCartney introduced the film ahead of its airing. “Hello, I’d like to introduce you to a short film which tells the story of how me, John, George and Ringo came together to record our last song. It’s a single called ‘Now And Then’. We hope you enjoy it,” he said.
Speaking about the film, Murray also told The One Show: “It’s absolutely epic to be part of this. Many times we work on projects and they don’t come out or they come out years later and I had actually looked for this song many times online and I thought, ‘Whatever happened to that, it [was] never released’. Then it was a year and a half ago we recorded the strings for it.”
When asked where it ranks in the projects he’s worked on he added: “It’s the cherry on the cake for sure. Being part of this is a life long dream.”
‘Now And Then’, which is due to be released tomorrow (November 2), was completed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr with the help of AI, and is comprised of past demo recordings of John Lennon, which the surviving members salvaged and used to make a new song.
Lennon first wrote and recorded a demo of ‘Now And Then’ with just his piano and vocals in the late ’70s at his home in New York’s Dakota building. Following his death, wife Yoko Ono would later give the recording to McCartney, George Harrison and Starr in 1994, along with the demos for ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ – which were both completed and released as ‘new’ Beatles in the mid ’90s as part of The Beatles ‘Anthology’ project.
The surviving members, along with producer Jeff Lynne, recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for ‘Now And Then’ but “technological limitations” meant that Lennon’s vocals and piano were not able to be separated for a clear enough mix.
“It took almost a quarter of a century for us to wait until the right moment to tackle ‘Now And Then’ again,” McCartney said in the film.
Following Peter Jackson’s acclaimed 2021 Get Back docu-series, he was able to help use WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology to de-mix the film’s mono soundtrack, isolate instruments and vocals, and hone in on individual voice’s conversations. This was then used on ‘Now And Then.’
“They said this is the sound of John’s voice (imitates computer noise). A few seconds later or however long it took, and there it was: JOHN’S voice, crystal clear. It was quite emotional,” McCartney said.
Starr added: “Since Peter took John off and gave him his own track, it was like John’s there you know? It was far out.”
The single will come as a double A-side with the band’s 1962 debut UK single, ‘Love Me Do’ – combining their first single with their last. Pre-order and save the song here. A music video for ‘Now And Then’ will follow on Friday November 3.
The following week will see The Beatles’ release new expanded editions of ‘1962-1966 (The Red Album)’ and ‘1967-1970 (The Blue Album)’, mixed in stereo and Dolby, on November 10.
The two releases will now span 75 songs from ‘Love Me Do’ to ‘Now And Then’ and feature 21 newly-added tracks, with 12 on ‘Red’ and nine on ‘Blue’. These come from recent years’ stereo and Dolby mixes of recent reissued albums, plus new mixes created by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios with the assistance of the AI provided WingNut Films’ audio de-mixing technology. John Harris also lends essays for the releases.