The Beatles released what has been billed their very last song this week, with the aid of filmmaker Peter Jackson, but now the Lord of the Rings director has hinted there may be one or two more gems in the vault.
Now and Then, a song written by John Lennon in 1978, two years before his murder, has been turned into a proper Beatles song with the aid of Jackson’s technology, using the same filmmaking magic as for his epic Beatles documentary Get Back. What started as a demo performed by Lennon in his New York apartment has been stripped and lovingly rebuilt, to include the late George Harrison on guitar, and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr adding their special sauce for a genuine 2023 Beatles song.
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The song has been released to rapture by fans, respect by critics, all with due reverence that this may be the very final outing by the Fab Four, sixty years after they dominated the charts in the UK and US.
Except… there may be more to come, according to Jackson. He told the Sunday Times newspaper he has footage from Get Back, in which one or other of the Beatles riffs on a musical idea in the studio. He said:
“We can take a performance from Get Back, separate John and George, and then have Paul and Ringo add a chorus or harmonies. You might end up with a decent song but I haven’t had conversations with Paul about that.
“It’s fanboy stuff, but certainly conceivable.”
It was Jackson’s MAL audio software at his studio in New Zealand that enabled Lennon’s voice to be separated from the piano and other background noises audible on the original demo, and turned into a real song. Jackson told the paper he was inspired to help create the song once McCartney contacted him to say he had been given the demos by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono.
He said: “It felt so wrong to have a Beatles song all to myself. It’s not a classic in the sense of I Am the Walrus or Penny Lane — it’s not complex like that. It’s simple, but it’s got a haunting quality. Whenever anyone asks why I like the Beatles, I just say they make me happy. With the world in the state it is, we need the Beatles to appear again, as if a flying saucer has touched down and they’ve got off and are providing us with their one last song to cheer us up.”
Or maybe one last song for now…
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