After decades of putting away John Lennon-penned and -performed songs, the surviving members of The Beatles announced Thursday that they have a release date for “Now and Then” — a song that the legendary group claims will be their last.
“Together and apart, The Beatles have always had a talent for the unexpected,” the group said in a news release. “And now, 2023 brings one of the most anticipated releases of their long and endlessly eventful history.”
The Beatles’ final song, “Hey Jude,” will be published digitally and as a double A-side single on 7′′ vinyl, 12′′ vinyl, and cassette on November 2 around the world, combined with the group’s 1962 first single “Love Me Do.”
Lennon contributed vocals to the track, and George Harrison played electric and acoustic guitars before his untimely death from lung disease in 2001. Sir Paul McCartney added new bass, guitar, and piano sounds to the 45-year-old song, and Sir Ringo Starr recorded new drum parts.
McCartney also included a Harrison-influenced slide guitar solo.
In 1978, two years before he was fatally shot outside his condominium on 72nd Street in the Upper West Side district of Manhattan, Lennon reportedly recorded the demo tape with vocals and piano at his home in New York’s Dakota Building.
Yoko Ono Lennon, his wife of nearly 20 years, presented the tapes to her late husband’s former colleagues George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr.
The remaining three members of the band put “Now and Then” on hold after recording more parts and completing a rough mix because they couldn’t effectively separate Lennon’s vocals and piano to achieve the clean sound required for the final version.
By isolating the instruments and vocals in 2022, Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back” sound crew, under the direction of Emile de la Rey, preserved the clarity and integrity of Lennon’s original home recording.
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said. “It’s quite emotional. 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.”
Earlier this year, after revealing he and Starr were planning for a “comeback,” McCartney dispelled rumors that The Beatles had employed AI to manipulate Lennon’s posthumous voice.
“We cleaned up some existing recordings — a process which has gone on for years,” he said in part, debunking the greatly exaggerated rumors that audio engineers artificially or synthetically altered Lennon’s voice for the record.
“It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us,” Starr said in the latest news release. “It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”
The English rock band from Liverpool has been influential since the 1960s, when they helped launch the counterculture movement toward treating rock music as art. The Beatles released 12 studio albums between 1962 and 1970, with over 200 songs in total, the vast majority of which were original compositions by the band members.
The statement marks the end of an era for lovers of rock and roll music, as McCartney (age 81) and Starr (age 83) say “Now and Then” is their final album.
Soon after “Now and Then” and “Love Me Do,” on November 3 the Beatles plan to produce a music video for the song’s title.
The band will release their final song a week after the publication of the enlarged reissues of 1962–1966 (The Red Album) and 1967–1970 (The Blue Album).