By Gus Saltonstall
It might be hard to believe but The Beatles just released a new song and the Upper West Side played a major role in the process.
“‘Now And Then’ – The Last Beatles Song (Short Film)” was released on November 1, including a four-minute-and-six-second song, and a video backstory, directed by Peter Jackson, about how tapes of John Lennon singing on his piano decades ago in his home at the Dakota on West 72nd Street were turned into the new song.
Yoko Ono gave the tapes of Lennon singing to the other members of The Beatles in 1994, which the group used to release “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” later that decade, but “Now And Then” wasn’t used because the technology of the time wasn’t able to separate Lennon’s voice from a loud piano.
“To hear John’s voice, that’s a thing we cherished,” Paul McCartney said. “It was the closest we’ve ever come to having him back in the room.”
The band ended up running out of steam at the time in trying to find a solution, and when George Harrison died in 2001, the project ended up stalling.
Things changed in 2021, though, when Peter Jackson’s documentary series, “The Beatles: Get Back,” utilized technical restoration methods to separate the Beatles’ voices from background sounds. The band was then able to utilize the same technology in 2022 to separate Lennon’s voice from the original cassette recording given by Ono.
“My dad would have loved that because he was never shy to experiment with recording technology,” Sean Lennon said in the video, while also reminiscing about his father playing music in their Dakota Building apartment.
The short film also includes multiple shots of the family walking through Central Park.
After Lennon’s vocals were isolated, McCartney and Ringo Starr created the rest of the track, while adding in guitar parts George Harrison wrote in 1995 and a slide guitar solo in his signature style.
“It’s probably the last Beatles song,” McCartney said.
Check out the full video for yourself below.
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