Paul McCartney says Beatles final song "Now and Then" with late John Lennon is "quite emotional"

The song features the vocals of the late band members John Lennon and the guitar-playing of George Harrison

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published October 31, 2023 5:57PM (EDT)

The Beatles, 1967 (Apple Corp, Ltd)
The Beatles, 1967 (Apple Corp, Ltd)

The Beatles are releasing their final song "Then and Now" with late members, John Lennon and George Harrison finally finished by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr more than four decades after its conception. McCartney recently deemed the highly anticipated release (out Nov. 2) was "quite emotional."

The song was originally brought to life by Lennon — he wrote and performed it in 1977 in his New York City home but he never returned to "Now and Then," ultimately leaving it unfinished. Well, that is until Yoko Ono, Lennon's wife, gifted her husband's demos to his bandmates McCartney and Starr, who recently completed their late friend's work with the help of AI.

Deemed the last Beatles song, "Now and Then" had newly recorded parts from Harrison, McCartney and Starr in the '90s but technological limitations prevented Lennon's voice and piano from being separated for a full, crisp song. It was shelved until a production team had the challenge of resurrecting Lennon's voice from the original 1977 cassette recording in 2022 using machine-assisted learning or MAL to isolate Lennon's voice. This allowed, McCartney and Starr to work their Beatles magic and they added 1995 guitar work from Harrison with some additional newly recorded string arrangments.

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional," McCartney said in the band's announcement posted to their website. "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.”

“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,” Starr said.

"Now and Then" is said to be "deceptively hopeful paean about love and our inherent despair over the possibility of losing it." It also a "simply breathtaking, a plaintive reminder of the majesty of the Beatles’ narrative itself, as well as our sense of irreparable loss over Lennon and Harrison’s absence from the story," Salon's Beatles expert and contributor Kenneth Womack wrote.

The iconic British rock band has been teasing this new song since the summer and is set to release a Peter Jackson-directed music video for it on Friday, Nov. 3. The last installment of the Beatles' discography will be followed by new editions of compilation albums always seen as the definitive introduction to their work: "The Red Album" which spans the band's work between 1962 and 1966 and "The Blue Album" which spans 1967-1970. The albums will showcase some of the band's most popular work like the song "Love Me Do."

Lennon and Ono's son, Sean Ono Lennon said, “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that dad had been gone. 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.”

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Aggregate George Harrison John Lennon Music Paul Mccartney Ringo Starr The Beatles