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‘Last Beatles song’: Lennon’s polished home recording done

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).

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.

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.

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.”

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: “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.”

—AAP

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