The Beatles launch 12-minute Now And Then film as anticipation grows ahead of the release of their "last ever" song

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

The Beatles have released a 12-minute film ahead of the release of their hugely anticipated new single Now And Then later today (Thursday). The film tells the story of Now And Then's journey, from a raw demo supplied by Yoko Ono that the band were unable to finish during the 1995 sessions that produced the following year's Real Love and Free As A Bird singles, to its current status as "The last Beatles song".  

The short film was directed by Oliver Murray – who previously directed the 2022 film My Life As A Rolling Stone – and features contributions from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Sean Ono Lennon and film director Peter Jackson.

"Every time I wanted a little bit more of John’s voice, this piano came through and clouded the picture," says McCartney. "I think we kind of ran out of steam a bit and time, and it was like, 'well, I don’t know, maybe we’ll leave this one. Now And Then just kind of languished in a cupboard.

"And then in 2001, we lost George, which kind of took the wind out of our sails. It took almost a quarter of a century for us to wait until the right moment to tackle Now And Then again, with the technology that Peter Jackson and his team had worked out during the Get Back movie."

Jackson's technology was previously used last 2022's reissue of Revolver, when Giles Martin was able to fully remix songs that had been originally been recorded on four-track, with the guitar, bass and drums all sharing the same track. Jackson's team were able to isolate each instrument, even taking apart the elements of Ringo’s kit, so the album could be remixed for new and improved stereo. 

In the case of Now And Then, McCartney sent Lennon's original 1977 recording to Jackson, who was able isolate a crystal clear version of his vocal from the tape.

"It was like, John’s there, you know?" says McCartney. "It’s far out. So in the mix, we could lift John’s voice without lifting the piano, which had always been one of the problems. Now we could mix it and make a proper record of it."

Now And Then will be released on November 2 at 2pm GMT / 10am EDT / 7am PDT, with Peter Jackson's video following 24 hours later.

The release of Now And Then will precede a fancy new reissue of the Beatles' iconic 'Red' and 'Blue' compilations albums (a.k.a. 1962–1966 and 1967-1970). Both reissues will land on November 10.

Now And Then can be pre-saved at streaming services, while a number of physical variants will be made available, including light blue and clear vinyl 7" singles, and a black vinyl 12", while The Beatles' stores will carry exclusive alternatives.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.