The Beatles' final song "Now and Then" blessed the world on Thursday (November 2), and as if hearing John Lennon's voice come to life one more time wasn't special enough on its own, the music video sees him and George Harrison actually come back to life alongside their bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
The video was directed by Peter Jackson, who also helmed the 2021 docuseries The Beatles: Get Back. He resurrected the late Beatles using unseen footage from the 1995 recording session where Harrison laid down the guitar part for the song, and home videos supplied by Lennon’s and Harrison’s families. The final package also mixes shots of McCartney and Starr recording the final portions; however, the real fun begins in the middle of the video when McCartney and Starr are not only joined by Lennon and Harrison, but also younger versions of themselves.
“At their core [The Beatles] were irreverent and funny, and the middle section should capture that spirit,” Jackson explained in a statement. “We needed to laugh at The Beatles, and laugh with them. They were always sending themselves up – and the more seriously other people took them, the more they would clown around."
“Luckily we found a collection of unseen outtakes in the vault, where The Beatles are relaxed, funny and rather candid," he added. "These become the spine of our middle section, and we wove the humor into some footage shot in 2023. The result is pretty nutty and provided the video with much needed balance between the sad and the funny.”
Watch the "Now and Then" video below.
The story of "Now and Then" began 46 years ago. In 1977, Lennon recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home at the Dakota in New York City. In 1994, his wife Yoko Ono gave the recording to the band's surviving members McCartney, Starr, and Harrison, along with “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love.” The latter two were completed as new Beatles songs and respectively released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project. The trio also worked on parts for "Now and Then" but technology at the time restricted them from separating Lennon's vocals from the piano, and they were unable to achieve the clear mix they needed to release it.
Fast forward to 2021, and Jackson's team behind The Beatles: Get Back docuseries found a way to de-mix the film's mono soundtrack. They applied the same technology to "Now and Then" and were able to isolate Lennon's vocals. The next year, McCartney and Starr set out to complete the track, which includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by Harrison, who passed away in 2001; Starr’s new drum part; and bass, guitar and piano from McCartney that matches Lennon’s original playing. McCartney also added a slide guitar solo inspired by Harrison, and he and Starr contributed backing vocals to the chorus.
"Now and Then" will be released as a double A-side single along with The Beatles' very first single, "Love Me Do," making it a truly full circle moment. It will also be the final track on a new version of The Beatles' anthologies 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, also known as the Red and Blue albums. The latest edition of the anthologies, featuring 75 tracks, will be released on November 10.