For McCartney and Starr, hearing the “crystal clear” voice of Lennon on the completed track was a profound experience.
“It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording,” McCartney said in a statement Thursday, adding, “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.”
For Starr, hearing Lennon’s voice “was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us,” he said in a statement.
“It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out,” Starr added.
Lennon wrote and recorded the song at his home in New York City in the late 1970s. It was later worked on by McCartney, Starr and George Harrison – who died in 2001 – in the mid-90s, and finished by McCartney and Starr this year, over four decades later.
The track – coined by McCartney as “the last Beatles song” – features the original vocals recorded by Lennon that were preserved using artificial intelligence.
“The Beatles: Get Back” filmmaker Peter Jackson was commissioned in 2021 to help bring “Now and Then” back to life by applying the same AI restoration techniques used in the groundbreaking documentary, according to a news release on Thursday.
By 2022, Starr and McCartney set out to complete the song, which also features new instrumentation from both, plus guitar recordings by Harrison from the 90s to complement Lennon’s vocals.
Backing vocals from Beatles songs “Here, There And Everywhere,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Because” were mixed into the final cut.
“Now and Then” will be released worldwide on November 2.
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