More than 50 years after the Beatles broke up, John, Paul, George and Ringo are back together, reunited for one final song that was released Thursday, officially closing the final chapter in the band’s production and musical legacy.
The song, titled “Now and Then”, was played on BBC radio shortly after 2 pm local time (10 am ET) and was simultaneously released on streaming platforms. With the help of digital technology, it features both John Lennon, shot to death in 1980, and George Harrison, who died of lung cancer in 2001.
Featuring new contributions from Paul McCartney, 81, and Ringo Starr, 83, the song will be the latest music released by arguably the most influential and best-selling musical group of the 20th century.
The band’s enduring popularity is such that some listeners complained on social media that the song appeared to crash or stop completely when played on the streaming platform Spotify.
“We heard the song and there was John in his apartment in New York City, playing his piano, doing a little demo,” McCartney said in a short BBC documentary released Wednesday to commemorate the new song.
McCartney revealed in the film that he had misgivings about using Lennon’s voice.
“Every time I thought like that I thought, wait a minute, let’s say I had a chance to ask John, ‘Hey John, would you like us to finish that last song of yours?’ I’m telling you, I know what the answer would have been: ‘Yes!’ “He would have loved it,” he stated.
McCartney delighted fans in June by announcing that the final song was on the way, revealing that he was working with film director Peter Jackson to isolate and enhance a low-quality cassette tape of John Lennon singing and playing piano in his apartment. from New York in the late 80s. 1970s.
The tape was passed on to the surviving members of the Beatles in 1994 by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and contained the songs “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love”, both reworked by the surviving members, produced by Jeff Lynne and published. as new songs in the 1990s as part of the “Anthology” retrospective album series.
“Now and Then” was considered a single in the 1990s, but the band “ran out of steam and time” and the tune was left unfinished, McCartney said in the BBC film.
McCartney has previously said that the song was rejected because Harrison didn’t like it. However, the song features a typical Harrison slide guitar solo, which he recorded in 1995.
The song also features a string section led by Giles Martin, son of George Martin, who produced the Beatles albums.
Jackson used cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence tools, to restore hundreds of hours of grainy documentary footage of the band recording the album “Let It Be” in 1969.
This became the acclaimed series “The Beatles: Get Back” on Disney+, which offered generations of the band’s fans an unprecedented glimpse into their creative process and sometimes fractious interpersonal relationships.
“With the technology that Peter Jackson and his team had developed during the film ‘Get Back,’ he had been able to separate certain instruments and voices,” McCartney said, adding that he then sent the original cassette to Jackson to see if it could be restored.
“Since Pedro took Juan [the cassette] and gave him his own clue, it’s like John was there. He’s very far away,” Starr said in the BBC documentary.
Sean Ono Lennon, son of John and Yoko, told the BBC: “My dad would have loved that because he was never shy about experimenting with recording technology. I think it’s really beautiful.”
“Now and Then” will be released as a double A-side single alongside the band’s first single, “Love Me Do,” which debuted to an unsuspecting British public in 1962.