Legendary rock band The Beatles have released their final song as a band–made with a little help from their AI friends. New software developed by Peter Jackson allowed for producer Giles Martin to mine Lennon’s lyrics from the grainy 1970s recording and seamlessly blend them with a soulful yet contemporary production.
Bass guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Paul McCartney and drummer Ringo Starr are the two surviving members of the four-piece band. Guitarist George Harrison passed in 2001, and lead singer John Lennon was tragically assassinated in 1980. Lennon is survived by his longtime partner Yoko Ono, who shared with McCartney and the late Harrison that she had discovered old cassette tapes of partially finished music from Lennon in their home.
The new track, “Now And Then,” utilized contemporary technology to piece together the posthumous recordings of the two late band members with the current work of McCartney and Starr. The former discussed the making of the track with the BBC.
— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) November 2, 2023
“We knew we’d be working with John again, which we initially did not think we’d be able to do,” said McCartney. Younger Millennial and Gen Z fans of the band continue to express how honored they feel that the band is releasing music in their lifetime. Critics are referring to it widely as the group’s “final masterpiece.”
The Beatles’ “Now and Then” is the final masterpiece they—and we—deserve. It's a tribute to Paul's obsessive devotion that he spent so many years bringing his friend's song into the world.
My Rolling Stone piece on this song's emotional power:
— rob sheffield (@robsheff) November 2, 2023
A short film regarding the creative process that went into the song, including interviews from the four band members’ surviving family members, has been released in conjunction with the track. The film is available for viewing on YouTube and Apple TV+.
In recent years, McCartney continues to record new music, collaborating with a wide array of artists from different genres and generations. In 2021, the acclaimed singer-songwriter (and knight) dropped “McCartney III: Reimagined,” which included collaborations with Beck, St. Vincent, Dominic Fike, Phoebe Bridgers, and more.
Social Media Reactions
While the piece of music is receiving praise from music critics, some avid listeners from the band are listening closely before they sing praises. Many feel that the parting words of Lennon offer a heartfelt yet haunting conclusion to the group’s bandhood, contributing to their lasting legacy. However, some feel that the contemporary technology made the recording sound too smooth when compared with their 1960s and 1970s classics.
The new Beatles song sounds like a 90s power pop band trying to sound like the Beatles.
— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) November 2, 2023
Other fans were simply grateful that the new tech allowed for the four band members to sonically reunite for one final time in the first place.
A little detail that I just noticed and that I love so much: both the first and last Beatles songs open with Paul McCartney counting the band in saying: “One, two, three, four”. #NowAndThen #TheBeatles pic.twitter.com/kxVVQnpOi4
— Dayna (@daynajmiIIer) November 2, 2023
every single beatles fan right now pic.twitter.com/EpWc0xlnv4
— jazzy | NOW AND THEN DAY!! (@lennonswalrus) November 2, 2023
I’m not surprised. Now And Then a very nice tune. It’s great that the technology they used brought all four Beatles together one more time. John and George were brought back to life with the completion of the song.
— Mike (@Mike82611808) November 2, 2023
Elsewhere, Lennon’s son Sean Ono Lennon is sharing the praises of his father’s final song on his X account. A number of other English musicians continue to support the song, including Liam Gallagher, formerly of Oasis.
Now n Then absolutely incredible biblical celestial heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time long live The Beatles LG x
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) November 2, 2023
McCartney remains on his “Got Back” tour through the end of the year.