Now and Then (found overdub session of Beatles song; 1995)

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Thesunthreetles.jpg

The first photo taken of The Beatles reunion (1994).

Status: Found

Date found: 02 Nov 2023

Found by: Apple Corps


Now and Then (also known by its tentative working titles "Miss You" and "I Don’t Want to Lose You") is the title of an unreleased song written by John Lennon. The song was originally recorded as a demo in 1977 with further overdubs in 1995 by the surviving members (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) of The Beatles as a possible third single to The Beatles Anthology project, 15 years after Lennon's death in 1980. The three Beatles did a recording session for Now and Then at that time, but due to the technical issues that arose during the Anthology sessions, it was unfortunately put on hold, which caused The Beatles' version not to be released for some time, even after Harrison's death in 2001. McCartney has expressed at different times that he would one day bring the song back and make it officially released to the public.

28 years later after the sessions, the song, billed as "the last Beatles song", was officially released on November 2, 2023, as a double A-side single backed with the 2023 mix of The Beatles' debut single Love Me Do. The song would also be featured on the expanded version of the 1973 compilation album 1967–1970, also known as The Blue Album, which was released on November 10, 2023.

In the officially released version, Lennon's voice in the demo was extracted with the help of sound source separation technology from Peter Jackson, who directed the documentary series The Beatles: Get Back (2021), and previously directed the trilogy film series The Lord of the Rings (2001–2003), the former of which utilized the same technology. The song was mixed by Spike Stent with cooperation from Giles Martin, son of late Beatles producer George Martin, as well as his mixing and sound engineering team at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to McCartney and Starr's reworked instrumental overdubs in 2022, Harrison's 1995 guitar recordings were also featured. That same year, McCartney, Martin, and Torchwood and Doctor Who composer Ben Foster contributed orchestral overdubs reminiscent of George Martin.

On November 3, 2023, the day after the song's release, the official music video for Now and Then made its debut on The Beatles' official YouTube channel. Directed by Peter Jackson, it was his first music video he ever directed. The music video contains footage from the 1995 and 2022 sessions, well-known live performances and past music videos over the years, snippets of previously unseen Beatles-related media, as well as visual effects by Wētā FX, a visual effects company formed in New Zealand.

Now and Then was credited to Lennon (original composition), while also credited to Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey (Beatles version). It was produced by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, as well as additional production by Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra from the 1995 sessions.

History

John Lennon's original demo (1977)

"Now and Then" was recorded by Lennon during his "retirement" period when he was no longer a recording artist under contract and looking after his son, Sean Lennon, full time. During this time (between 1975 and 1980), Lennon would record numerous rough demo recordings by himself (either on guitar or piano) with nothing more than a cassette boombox. Since these were never meant to be heard by the public, audio quality wasn't a concern. The piano demo cassette recording for "Now And Then" was recorded in 1977[1]. Lennon would come out of retirement in 1980 and many of the songs during this down period were recorded professionally on the sessions for the album; Double Fantasy. On December 8th, 1980 John Lennon would be murdered. The remainder of the songs recorded would be included in the posthumously released Milk and Honey album in 1984. The song "Now And Then" was not included in the Double Fantasy sessions and would not make it past the demo stage in Lennon's lifetime.

The Beatles version (1994-1995)

History

The Beatles' company Apple Corps, had been working on an official documentary on the band's career since 1968 (then titled The Long and Winding Road). With the band's legal issues and the death of member John Lennon delaying the project it wouldn't be until 1989 that the surviving members and Yoko Ono made plans to produce what would become the "Anthology" series. [2] During the project's production, it was decided that The Beatles would record new material for the series.

In January 1994, Paul McCartney approached Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, believing she would have some of his unused recordings. Ono gave McCartney three cassette tapes from Lennon's retirement period, one of which was found in Lennon's New York apartment with the words For Paul written in Lennon's handwriting. The cassettes contained rough demo recordings of the songs; "Free As A Bird", "Real Love", "Grow Old With Me" (which was previously released in demo form on Milk and Honey) and "Now and Then," featuring Lennon on piano and vocals. [3]

According to Yoko Ono on why she choose "Now And Then":

"I thought, this was a song which would release people from their sorrow of losing John, by listening to the song, they will eventually be able to release their sorrow and arrive at an understanding that, actually, John is not lost to them....Paul, George and Ringo lost a great friend as well. If they sung this song from their hearts it would have helped many people around the world who felt the same."[4]

Pre-production work

Before work on "Now and Then" began, Producer Jeff Lynne (ELO, Traveling Wilburys) and engineer Marc Mann, set to work cleaning up the song. Lynne had worked on the mono cassette demos to bring them up to an acceptable quality where they could be worked on. [5] "Now And Then" proved more of a technical challenge, as a 60-cycle mains hum could be heard throughout the whole recording.

Lynne and his team spent two weeks working on cleaning up the song at his home studio. A noise reduction tool for Pro Tools called DINR was used to remove the tapes' noises.

They also prepared a "Temp Track Demo". Using the MIDI sequencer Opcode Studio Vision, Lynne and Mann came up with an arrangement with drums, bass, piano and strings. The purpose of this demo was to see how a Beatles version of the song may sound and then present the ideas to the group.[6]

Lynne and Mann now had a cleaned-up version of the song on a two-track DAT tape. With the adjusted/cleaned-up Lennon recording on one track, and a 'click' track, or metronome track, on the other, to provide a strong audible guide for Ringo to add his drum rhythms to. [7]

This was then brought to Paul McCartney's Hog Hill Mill Studio in Sussex and transferred to a 24-track reel-to-reel analog tape machine, to which other instruments were added on the remaining tracks (in fact, a second 24-track machine was 'synched-up' with the first to provide 48 tracks for recording).[8]

Recording sessions

The three remaining Beatles soon began work on all demos with Jeff Lynne producing. Work on the demos began on 11th February 1994 with "Free As A Bird", followed by work on "Now And Then" on 22nd June 1994.[9]

The DAT master for "Now and Then" was transferred to an analogue 24-track multi-track[10][11]

According to McCartney, the sessions for "Now And Then" were difficult. Like "Free As A Bird", Lennon's recording of "Now And Then" was still a work in progress. The lyrics sung by Lennon on his demo recording weren't fully written at that stage. Lennon would fill in the missing lyrics with vocalisations as a placeholder with the vocal melody. The three Beatles recorded attempted a basic backing track.

It was decided to abandon the song for the time being and focus on the more complete "Real Love". Work continued "Now And Then" in early February 1995.

According to a 2023 interview with Ringo Starr, the original overdubs contained George Harrison playing the rhythm guitar track with Ringo on drums. [12] Other sources have cited McCartney's overdubs as being bass and vocals.[13]

McCartney was keen to continue work on the song, but the sessions ended with a frustrated Harrison declaring the song "fucking rubbish". Work stopped on the recording in May 1995. [11]

Anthology singles and non-appearance of the third single

"Free As A Bird" was released as a single on 4th December 1995. It was met with mixed reviews and missed the number 1 chart spot in the UK to Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" (to which, Jackson's record company Sony sent EMI a turkey stuffed with "Free As A Bird" singles).[14]

The next reunion single, "Real Love" was released 4th March 1996. Although critically it fared better, the chart performance was still disappointing (reaching #4 in the UK and #11 in the US). Part of the reason behind the song's performance in the UK was due to it being rejected from the BBC's Radio 1 playlist.

When it came time for the third single to be released on Anthology 3 in October 1996, the opening reunion song was replaced with an unreleased orchestral opening to the White Album track "Don't Pass Me By" titled "A Beginning". Reports in the media highlighted the technical issues Lynne and The Beatles had with recording the song but didn't rule out a future release. [5]

The main reason cited for the song's non-appearance was Harrison's dissatisfaction with the song and the amount of work that was needed to complete it. On the Jeff Lynne Songs website, there has been a scan of a lyric sheet with complete lyrics (copyright dated 1985) with recording notes on it.

It has also been cited in media sources that the 60-cycle mains hum was still on the recording at the time of the Beatles recording their overdubs.[15]

Post Anthology period (1996-2022)

To date, no content from the overdub sessions in 1994 and 1995 has resurfaced either officially or unofficially. The original John Lennon piano demo (with the hum), later leaked via bootlegs like Miscellaneous Tracks (1995)[16] and Free As A Bird (The Dakota Beatle Demos) (1996)[17]. In 2009, a version of the cassette without the hum was circulated on the John Lennon bootleg CD At Home [18]. It has been speculated that the cleaner version was not available during the reunion sessions because it was stolen from Lennon's apartment after his death along with other cassettes and personal effects.

In 2005 the song was used in the Broadway musical Lennon, under the title “I Don’t Want To Lose You”. The musical closed after a forty-one-day run.

In a 2009 interview, McCartney shared his interest in completing the song with Lynne and Starr, using the archived tracks that Harrison provided before his death.

In 2012 McCartney talked about the song and Harrison's rejection during the sessions of the documentary about Lynne's career Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO[11].

In a 2021 interview with The New Yorker, McCartney again mentioned his wish to finish the song as a possible "future project". [19]

As with any Beatles-related project, nothing is approved unless all four owners of Apple Corps unanimously vote in favour of it. The current owners are McCartney, Starr, Olivia Harrison (George Harrison’s widow) and Sean Ono Lennon (John Lennon’s son who took over from Yoko Ono in October 2020) [20]. Whether this has ever been discussed at Apple since the Anthology or the known stances of the other three owners is unknown.

Fan-made recreations

Since the availability of the cleaner cassette, there have been several fan edits of the song circulating on bootlegs.

Officially Released (2023)

The "last Beatles record"

On the 13th of June 2023 while promoting his book 1964: Eyes of the Storm on the BBC4 program Today, Paul McCartney was asked by host Martha Kearney about recent fan recreations of the Beatles music and his own voice being de-aged. In response, he briefly announced that Get Back director Peter Jackson was working with Apple on the "last Beatles record".[21][22]

When Peter Jackson did the film ‘Get Back’ where it was us making the ‘Let It Be’ album, and he was able to extract John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette where it had John’s voice and a piano he could separate them with AI. They could tell the machine ‘that’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar’s, and he did that, so he has great uses.

So we came to make what will be the last Beatles record. It was a demo that John had that we worked on and we just finished it up to be released this year. We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI, so then we could mix the record as you would normally do, you know. So it gives you it gives you some sort of leeway, so there’s a good side to it and then a scary side, and we’re just got to see where that leads.

- Paul McCartney. Today, BBC4, 13 June 2023.

While "Now And Then" was not mentioned by name, various media outlets have already begun speculating that it is the "demo" McCartney is referring to.[23] After the announcement fans discovered that the title "Now And Then" was copyrighted on 7th February 2023[24].

On the 14 July 2023 episode of magician Penn Jillette's podcast, Penn's Sundy School, Jellette revealed further details about the track when visiting Abbey Road Studios with producer Giles Martin. He stated that the single would be out in September 2023[25] (as of October 2023, the song has still not been released, though Ringo in a September 29th interview when asked about the release date stated that the song "should have already come out"[12]).

Jillette described how the MAL AI technology had separated Lennon's vocals, piano and what was described the audio of a loud TV from the original cassette audio (Jillette may have either been referring to the "buzz" on the "Now And Then" cassette or another recording that has not leaked). Additional work that was described by Jillette included AI used to de-age McCartney's new backing vocals, strings, horns and a new drum track from Ringo Starr (which he was prompted by Martin to record after initially declining). Another addition revealed by Jillette was the vocal track from the Abbey Road song, "Because" being pitch-shifted and used as backing vocals. The episode has since been removed but has been uploaded to YouTube.[25]

Starr confirmed that his drums were re-recorded as the original 1995 drum track was only a temporary drum track. In the same interview, he said it was McCartney who contacted him about working on the song and McCartney also played a solo on the song. He also confirmed that the new song was on "the same tape" as "Free As A Bird", which "Now And Then" was.[12]

It was announced a week prior that the song would be released on November 3, 2023, accompanied by a 12-minute short documentary by CBC Music.[26]

Official Release Announcement

The Beatles' official website posted an image of a running cassette tape with a blank label. Underneath was a sign-up for the band's newsletter below. Upon submitting an email to the newsletter aforementioned, a countdown appeared, ticking down to 26 October 2023 at 2 pm BST (UK), 9 am ET, and 6 am PT (USA). The band's official YouTube channel would also upload a 5-second video of a silent cassette tape playing.

When the countdown completed the image on the band's page of the cassette blank label had the words "Now And Then" appearing in handwriting font along with links to pre-orders for "Now And Then". This announcement officially both confirmed the "last Beatles record" as "Now And Then" and that the long-lost track would be finally released with Harrison's overdubs. The band's YouTube channel also uploaded a trailer video for the song.

The Guardian confirmed that the song would be teased in a 13-minute documentary on its making, premiered at 7.30 pm GMT on Wednesday 1 November, and unveiled in full on 2 November. On 3 November, it will be released as a double A-side single with the Beatles’ 1962 debut single, "Love Me Do" (remixed into stereo using machine-assisted learning, or MAL technology used in their 2021 Get Back documentary), featuring cover art by pop artist Ed Ruscha.

Removed Bridge

A major difference between the demo version and the officially released version aside from the song's structure and the minor lyrical changes is the omission of the bridge, which starts with the line, "I don't wanna lose you..." The bridge happens twice in the demo with different words. There exists a lyric sheet printed five years after Lennon's death (see the Gallery) that was used during the 1995 Anthology sessions.

There is speculation that the lyric sheet is implying that those are the intended lyrics Lennon originally wrote circa 1977. The ones that are highlighted in different colors are the lyrics that made it into the final version, albeit with minor lyrical changes, which could likely mean that the bridge that was removed was a planned detail from the 1995 sessions when the three Beatles started working together with the song before halting it, and that the 2022 sessions with McCartney and Starr based their overdubs from the 1995 sessions as well.

Gallery

Related images

Related clips

The officially released song with its accompanying music video.

A clip from the 2012 BBC documentary Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO discussing the recording of the reunion songs. At 8:00 mins, Paul McCartney talks about "Now And Then".

Paul McCartney Confirms New Beatles Song To Be Released This Year + Discusses AI Covers - Interview. Today, BBC4 - 13 June 2023

Lennon, the bio-musical about John Lennon’s life, featured a cast performance of “Now And Then” under the title “I Don’t Want To Lose You” (at 01:19:50)

5-second teaser of "Now And Then" before it was officially announced.

The Beatles - Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song (Short film).

See Also

External Links

References

  1. John Lennon - Complete Home Demo Recordings 1975-1980 Vol 1 (5CD With Slipcase) Misterclaudel.  MCCD-497-501
  2. The Story Of The Beatles' Anthology Project - Sound On Sound
  3. Now And Then (song) - The Paul McCartney Project (the-paulmccartney-project.com)
  4. Rip Rense - August 21, 2005 - One More Beatles Song, or Should They Just Let It Be? in The Washington Post
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Story Of The Beatles' Anthology Project (soundonsound.com)
  6. Matt Hurwitz - Studio Magic: Turning Lost Lennon Tapes Into Beatle Treasure Good Day Sunshine #80 August 1996
  7. Matt Hurwitz - Studio Magic: Turning Lost Lennon Tapes Into Beatle Treasure Good Day Sunshine #80 August 1996
  8. (August 1996 - Studio Magic: Turning Lost Lennon Tapes Into Beatle Treasure article in Good Day Sunshine #80)
  9. "The Beatles Anthology" sessions (Feb 11, 1994 - 1996) - The Paul McCartney Project (the-paulmccartney-project.com)
  10. https://soundonsound.com/people/story-beatles-anthology-project The Story Of The Beatles' Anthology Project-Sound On Sound article from 1995 explaining the technical details of the reunion sessions.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO. BBC. 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Ringo Starr talks EPs, 'Get Back' and that final Beatles song | AP extended interview - YouTube
  13. Jeff Lynne Song Database - Song Details (jefflynnesongs.com)
  14. The Story of... 'Earth Song' by Michael Jackson - Smooth (smoothradio.com)
  15. Jack Malvern (April 9, 2005 - The Times)
  16. https://discogs.com/master/1342756-John-Lennon-Miscellaneous-Tracks Miscellaneous Tracks
  17. https://discogs.com/master/705246-John-Lennon-Free-As-A-Bird-The-Dakota-Beatle-Demos Free As A Bird (The Dakota Beatle Demos)
  18. John Lennon – At Home (2009, CD) - Discogs
  19. Paul McCartney Doesn’t Really Want to Stop the Show  | The New Yorker
  20. Sean Lennon has taken control of John Lennon’s estateCosmic Magazine
  21. https://bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-65881813 Sir Paul McCartney says artificial intelligence has enabled a 'final' Beatles song. BBC Music
  22. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/paul-mccartney-reveals-ai-create-beatles-record/story?id=100052489 Paul McCartney reveals AI was used to create the 'last Beatles record'
  23. https://bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-65881813 Sir Paul McCartney says artificial intelligence has enabled a 'final' Beatles song. BBC Music
  24. Paul employs AI to release third “new” Beatles song – The Daily Beatle (webgrafikk.com) - [1]
  25. 25.0 25.1 Now and Then & 1962-1970 remix news (from Penn Jillette's "Penn's Sunday School" podcast) - YouTube
  26. https://cbc.ca/music/the-beatles-release-final-song-with-john-lennon-vocals-now-and-then-1.7008622