Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr confirm release date for new Beatles song

Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr have spoken of their “emotional” feelings ahead of the release of what they are calling the last Beatles song.

Now And Then, written and sung by John Lennon and later developed by the other band members including George Harrison, has been finished by Sir Paul and Sir Ringo decades after the original recording.

The track – sourced from a Lennon demo, using technology to extricate and isolate his voice – will be released on November 2 by Apple Corps, Capitol and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).

Music – Recording Session – The Beatles – London
The Beatles at a 1960s recording session in London (PA)

A 12-minute documentary, written and directed by Oliver Murray, known for My Life As A Rolling Stone, and with commentary from Sir Ringo and Sir Paul, will be released with the new song.

The demo was recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s at his home in New York’s Dakota Building, and also features piano music.

After his death in 1980 aged 40, Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono gave the recording to the remaining Beatles in 1994 along with Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were released by the band in the same decade.

During this period, Harrison, Sir Paul and Sir Ringo recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for Now And Then with producer and musician Jeff Lynne.

However, the band did not release the song, citing issues extracting Lennon’s vocals and piano in a clear mix due to limited technology at the time.

Harrison died in November 2001 aged 58.

Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary The Beatles: Get Back used audio restoration technology that allowed for vocals, music and conservations by the band to be isolated.

This allowed for a new mix of the Revolver album, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes, in 2022, and Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, have now done this for Now And Then, which helped separate the vocal from the piano.

Sir Paul said: “There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. 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.”

Sir Paul and Sir Ringo finished the song last year, including Harrison’s electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995.

Sir Ringo’s drum part was added alongside bass, guitar, piano and a slide guitar solo by Sir Paul, inspired by Harrison, as the surviving Beatles also put on their backing vocals to the chorus.

Recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, Sir Paul oversaw the track as more backing vocals were added from the original recordings of Here, There And Everywhere, Eleanor Rigby and Because.

Sir Ringo said: “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”

The finished track was produced by Sir Paul and Giles Martin – who both wrote the string arrangement alongside Ben Foster – and mixed by Spike Stent.

Sean Ono Lennon, son of Lennon and Ono, said: “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that dad had been gone.

“It’s the last song my dad, Paul, George and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be.”

Harrison’s widow Olivia said: “Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard.

The Beatles Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years premiere – London
Olivia Harrison, widow of George Harrison (Yui Mok/PA)

“If he were here today, (our son) Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of Now And Then.”

On November 10, two compilation albums – 1962-1966, The Red Album, and 1967-1970, The Blue Album – will be re-released featuring 21 newly added tracks.

The documentary Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song will premiere at 7.30pm on November 1 on The Beatles’ YouTube channel.

The song will be released at 2pm on November 2 as a double A-side with the band’s 1962 debut single Love Me Do, and cover art by US artist Ed Ruscha.

A music video will debut on November 3.

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