With “Now and Then,” The Beatles close out a career

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in “Now and Then: The Last Beatles Song” Credit: 2023 Apple Corps Ltd

To borrow a title from the band itself, The Beatles are saying “Hello, Goodbye” with the release of a new single.

“Now and Then” is the  newly released track stitched together from across the decades and is being touted by the group as its final release. John Lennon’s vocal and piano contribution was first recorded in the 1970s; George Harrison added guitar in the mid-1990s. The surviving members of the band, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, added their respective contributions of drums, bass and vocals over the last year or so.

The result is a deeply moving coda to one of the all-time greatest pop music catalogs in recorded history, a gentle, simple conclusion to a career spanning more than half a century.

The song was originally dusted off as part of the Anthology efforts in 1995 and 1996, when the then-reunited Beatles released the group’s first new music in more than 25 years, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” “Now and Then” was meant to be released as part of that retrospective project, but technological limitations at the time led the remaining members to shelve it.

With the release of director Peter Jackson’s astounding The Beatles: Get Back documentary project in 2021, and its deployment of cutting-edge audio restoration technology, McCartney and Starr felt it was finally feasible to complete “Now and Then.”

“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a statement. “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 [releasing] a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”

The band has also released a short documentary about the song, which features on the newly released “red” and “blue” compilation albums, freshly re-issued on vinyl and inclusive of “Now and Then.”

KERA TV will broadcast “Now and Then: The Last Beatles Song” at 8 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 16.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.