The Beatles look set to score their first UK number one single in 54 years with Now And Then

The Beatles surrounded by flowers
(Image credit: Apple Corps Ltd)

The Beatles look set to score their first UK number one single in 54 years with their final song Now And Then.

The song is on course to become the band's 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.

Now And Then was released on Thursday, November 2. The song is based upon a 1977 John Lennon demo that Yoko Ono gave the remaining Beatles following her husband's murder in 1980. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr worked upon the track during the February 1995 studio sessions that produced the Real Love and Free As A Bird singles, but were unable to properly isolate Lennon's vocals on the demo, and ultimately gave up on trying to salvage it at the time.

"Every time I wanted a little bit more of John’s voice, this piano came through and clouded the picture," says McCartney in the 12-minute film which teased the release of the song. "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."

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

Watch the Peter Jackson-directed video for Now And Then below. Jackson said that he was initially hesitant to work on the video.   

"To be honest, just thinking about the responsibility of having to make a music video worthy of the last song The Beatles will ever release produced a collection of anxieties almost too overwhelming to deal with," the director admitted. "My lifelong love of The Beatles collided into a wall of sheer terror at the thought of letting everyone down." 

Liam Gallagher has given the song his personal thumbs up.

“Now n Then absolutely incredible biblical celestial heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time,” the former Oasis frontman posted on X, “long live The Beatles.”

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.