- Publish Date
- Friday, 3 November 2023, 10:51AM
The final Beatles recording is here.
Titled Now and Then, the almost impossible-to-believe track is four minutes and eight seconds of the first and only original Beatles recording of the 21st century. There’s a countdown, then acoustic guitar strumming and piano bleed into the unmistakable vocal tone of John Lennon in the song’s introduction: “I know it’s true / It’s all because of you / And if I make it through / It’s all because of you.”
More than four decades since Lennon’s murder and two since George Harrison’s death, the very last Beatles song has been released as a double A-side single with Love Me Do, the band’s 1962 debut single.
Now and Then comes from the same batch of unreleased demos written by Lennon in the 1970s, which were given to his former bandmates by Yoko Ono. They used the tape to construct the songs Free As a Bird and Real Love, released in the mid-1990s. But there were technical limitations to finishing Now and Then.
On Wednesday, a short film titled The Beatles — Now And Then — The Last Beatles Song was released, detailing the creation of the track. On the original tape, Lennon’s voice was hidden; the piano was “hard to hear”, as Paul McCartney describes it. “And in those days, of course, we didn’t have the technology to do the separation.”
Listen to the original cassette recording below:
That changed in 2022 when the band — now a duo — was able to utilise the same technical restoration methods that separated the Beatles’ voices from background sounds during the making of director Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back. And so, they were able to isolate Lennon’s voice from the original cassette and complete Now and Then using machine learning.
When the song was first announced in June, McCartney described artificial intelligence technology as “kind of scary but exciting”, adding: “We will just have to see where that leads.”
“To still be working on Beatles music in 2023 — wow,” he said in The Beatles — Now And Then — The Last Beatles Song.
Written by the NZ Herald and republished here with edits and permission