When Beatles survivors Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr heard John Lennon singing again on “Now and Then” — a new Beatles song due out Thursday — it was as if their former bandmate had miraculously returned to life four decades after his murder. . .
“And there it was — John’s voice is crystal clear,” McCartney, 81, says in the new short film “Now and — The Last Beatles Song,” which premiered on the Fab Four’s YouTube channel on Wednesday.
“It’s like John is there,” Starr, 83, adds.
“Now and Then” – the Beatles’ first new tune since 1996’s “True Love” – was written and first recorded by Lennon in the 1970s while he was living in the Dakota Building on New York’s Central Park West – where he was killed, 43 years old. Years ago on December 8, 1980.
“I remember living in the Dakotas with my mother and father,” Sean Ono Lennon, 48, recalled in his book “Now and Then.”
“There is an impression that my father stopped playing music for a while to raise me, which I think is partly true in that he does not tour and does not fulfill any major record company obligations.
“But he was always playing music around the house. He was always making demos, and I remember him recording on these cassette tape recorders. My mother had a bunch of songs that my father hadn’t finished, and she gave them to the other Beatles.”
Harrison, who died of lung cancer in 2001, was excited by the prospect of reuniting the four Beatles for song after receiving this musical gift from Ono in 1994.
“If we wanted to do something, having the three of us, as interesting as it might be, having John in it is the obvious thing,” he says in the short film.
“Hearing John’s voice is something to cherish. I’m sure he would have really enjoyed this opportunity to be with us again.
So Harrison, McCartney and Starr set out to revive “Now and Then” in 1995, but technological limitations did not allow them to clearly separate Lennon’s voice on the demo.
That all changed after new technology allowed director Peter Jackson to isolate sounds and instruments in the 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back.
McCartney and Starr then proceeded to complete “Now and Then” using the upgraded kit in 2022. In addition to Harrison’s guitar parts recorded in 1995, McCartney added a bass and slide guitar part as a “tribute to George”, while Starr placed underneath the drums.
“All those memories come back to us,” McCartney says in his book “Now and Then – The Beatles’ Last Song.”
“For example, how lucky have I been to have these guys in my life and to work with these guys so closely and come up with such a body of music? For us to still be working on Beatles music in 2023 – great.”
“Now and Then” – it’s probably the last Beatles song, and we all played it. So it’s a real Beatles recording.
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