It’s 53 years since the Fab Four officially broke up, 43 years since John Lennon’s shocking murder, and — though it may feel like yesterday — nearly 22 years the tragic passing of George Harrison. Fans would be forgiven for thinking the band well and truly finished.
But today The Beatles have proven themselves as capable of surprises as ever, delivering a new single performed by all four members.
Now and Then, described by the band as “The Last Beatles Song”, combines posthumous recordings by John Lennon and George Harrison with new contributions by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr.
Listen to the new Beatles song below:
The track began life in the late 1970s as as home demo recording by John Lennon; one of several largely-unknown compositions his widow, Yoko Ono, eventually passed on to McCartney for consideration as new Beatles recordings.
Two other home demos, Free as a Bird and Real Love, were transformed into full-band songs for the 1995 Beatles Anthology compilations. Now and Then was also considered for release but quickly abandoned, largely due to issues in sound quality.
Luckily, the then-three Beatles created a rough backing track at the time, allowing George Harrison to record what would sadly become his very last Beatles contribution.
Thanks to recent developments in AI sound separation technology, Lennon’s original vocal and piano tracks can now be isolated and cleaned up to a standard fitting for commercial release; a process previously considered all but impossible.
To celebrate the occasion, the Beatles have also released a fascinating 12-minute short film on the song’s creation.
Watch the mini-documentary here:
Surviving band members have frequently been asked about reforming (often with suggestions of departed members’ musician children, such as Sean Lennon or Dhani Harrison, filling in for their parents), but have repeatedly insisted it simply wouldn’t be The Beatles without all four of them playing.
This makes Now and Then perhaps the final opportunity for the band to deliver a “new” song combining the musical talents of John, Paul, George and Ringo.