"When we played it to people, some cried, some said, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s a Beatles record!’": Paul McCartney on the reaction to The Beatles' final song, Now And Then

The Beatles in 1968
(Image credit: Apple Corps Ltd)

Paul McCartney reflects on The Beatles' legacy, and describes the loss of John Lennon and George Harrison as "a bitter pill" in a new [paywalled] interview conducted with The Times newspaper. McCartney was speaking to promote the 'new' Beatles single, Now And Then, which is on course to give the iconic band their first UK number one single in 54 years.

In the interview, McCartney describes looking at photographs of his late bandmates as "bittersweet".

"The sweet is ‘How lucky was I to have those men in my life’," he explains. "But the fact that they’re not here is bitter." 

McCartney also admits to having some initial reservations about working on Now And Then, which has its origins in a demo recording Lennon made at home in New York in the last '70s. 

“It’s strange when you think about it,” McCartney says. “There’s John, in his apartment, banging away at a piano doing a demo. And now we’ve restored it and it’s a crystal-clear, beautiful vocal. You still wonder, is it inferior, something we shouldn’t do? But every time I thought that, I thought, Let’s say I had a chance to ask John. And John would have loved it. Of course, I’m never going to know, but I think mine’s the best guess we can have. And now it is a Beatles record. When we played it to people, some cried, some said, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s a Beatles record!’”

“A lot of people were touched by the Beatles - and that feeling still exists,” McCartney adds. “When I remember the Beatles, I remember joy, talent, humour and love. And if people remember us for those things I’d be very happy.” 

Now And Then is on course to become The Beatles' 18th number one single in the UK, as it is currently out-selling/out-streaming the rest of the top five combined. It would become the quartet's first UK chart-topping single since 1969’s The Ballad Of John And Yoko. The new chart will be announced on Friday, November 10.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.