Beginning in 1978 as a John Lennon demo tape, the finally realized ‘Now and Then’ has been described as the Beatles’ last song. But could there be more to come, hidden in the vaults?
The newly released, headline-grabbing “final” Beatles song, “Now and Then,” has raised as many questions as it has answered about the Fab Four and what might have been. Stemming from a demo recorded by John Lennon in 1978, the song went through several steps throughout the years before the technology enabled the isolation of Lennon’s vocals to create something release-worthy. But that begs the question if there might be other Beatles recording tidbits that director Peter Jackson’s sound technology could turn into a genuine release from the band.
During his work on “The Beatles: Get Back,” his epic documentary feature, Jackson honed the audio technology that Paul McCartney would later contact him about for a special project. In July 2022, Jackson says McCartney contacted him about the demo recording of “Now and Then,” which Yoko Ono had gifted him in 1994.
The three remaining Beatles had attempted to turn it into a genuine Beatles recording in 1995 during their Anthology sessions. However, isolating Lennon’s vocals from the sounds of his New York apartment in the original 1978 recording was near impossible given the technology of the era. But thanks to the Anthology sessions, the stage was set for the completion of “Now and Then” almost 30 years later.
Because of each of the members’ involvement in the recording decades apart, the track is considered a genuine Beatles song — which makes fans wonder if that means it’s truly the last Beatles song. Could there be more footage surfaced by Jackson in the Get Back vault that could lead to a full Beatles track in the next couple of years?
“It did cross my mind!” Jackson tells The Times. “We can take a performance from Get Back, separate John and George, and then have Paul and Ringo add a chorus or harmonies. You might end up with a decent song, but I haven’t had conversations with Paul about that. It’s fanboy stuff, but certainly conceivable.”
Whether such a song would be as well received by fans as “Now and Then,” rather than being shrugged off as a technology-fueled parlor trick remains to be seen. Given that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are in their 80s, eventually the two will stop performing. That makes the next several years crucial for the creation of any new content from the band, no matter how much additional footage might still be in the vault.