- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The Beatles released their final “new” track on Thursday, nearly 60 years after Beatlemania gripped the nation. “Now and Then” has set social media alight, with longtime Beatles fans and new converts alike wowed by the group’s classical style and astonished by the technology that—in this case—made it possible. The release will be followed by Friday’s debut of a music video directed by Peter Jackson, who helmed the marathon Beatles doc Get Back. A short documentary detailing the song’s creation will also hit YouTube on Friday.
“Now and Then” was an unfinished demo John Lennon began in 1977. He recorded vocals and a piano track on a cassette tape and quickly forgot about it. Paul McCartney, who along with Ringo Starr comprise the only living members of the original quartet, has long dreamed of finishing Lennon’s song.
The finished version uses John’s original 1977 vocals and piano, along with George Harrison’s guitar work from 1995's Anthology sessions, and a 2022 recording of Starr singing and drumming. Its final production was made possible using cutting-edge technology created for Get Back, which was able to separate Lennon’s vocals from his piano work on the original cassette.
Social media quickly hailed the song as a new classic. Many seemed to agree that, even if it didn’t hold up to the band’s best work, “Now and Then” was still a high-water mark for the Beatles.
Music journalist Rob Sheffield, writing for Rolling Stone, called the song “the final masterpiece they—and we—deserve. It's a tribute to Paul's obsessive devotion that he spent so many years bringing his friend's song into the world.”
The Beatles’ “Now and Then” is the final masterpiece they—and we—deserve. It's a tribute to Paul's obsessive devotion that he spent so many years bringing his friend's song into the world.
My Rolling Stone piece on this song's emotional power:
Read: https://t.co/r5h7QFGfsU pic.twitter.com/6TNF3yZ7zJ
— rob sheffield (@robsheff) November 2, 2023
"Was it the rocker I'd hoped it would be? No," journalist Allison Steele wrote of her initial reaction. "Was it a poignant reflection of where John was when he recorded vocals? Yes. Did it make me tear up? Absolutely. The lyrics, given what's transpired, were prescient."
First thing this morning, listened to "Now & Then" by the #Beatles. Was it the rocker I'd hoped it would be? No. Was it a poignant reflection of where John was when he recorded vocals? Yes. Did it make me tear up? Absolutely. The lyrics, given what's transpired, were prescient.
— Allison Seale (@allyseale) November 2, 2023
Many marveled at all the time that had passed since the song was first written, or just how long the Beatles had been in their lives.
The Beatles have been the backdrop in my life: Girls expelled from my school in Birkenhead for watching them perform at the Cavern in the 60's in their uniforms! The heart-stopping news of John's cruel death in 1980, then George in 2001 💔 So many yesterday's between Now & Then🙏
— Jilly Will 🇺🇦 💙 Let's Rethink the Future (@Gillian24448105) November 2, 2023
While others celebrated the group's singular talents.
— Louise McPherson (@Maggie_mcp) November 2, 2023
The Beatles, Now & Then is amazing! Love being able to hear a new song by the best ever. 👌
— Robbie Matthews (@robbie_m79) November 2, 2023