On Wednesday afternoon, the band released a short film explaining the genesis of John Lennon's "Now And Then" as a potential Beatles song, the technical hangup that forced George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to abandon work on it in 1994, and the recent breakthrough that made it possible to finish the song and produce it with a quality befitting the Fab Four.
You can watch the film via the player above!
The documentary includes exclusive footage, as well as commentary from Harrison, McCartney and Starr, as well as Sean Ono Lennon and filmmaker Peter Jackson.
"When we lost John, we knew that it was really over," McCartney says early in the film.
But there were threads left to unravel. While John rarely performed publicly after the Beatles breakup, he never went too long without writing. One idea — "Now And Then" — was uncovered by Yoko Ono following John's passing. She eventually passed the cassette tape recording along to the three surviving Beatles in the '90s, suggesting they try and finish it as a Beatles song.
The problem: even if the trio of Harrison, McCartney and Starr could complete John's lost song, his demo was recorded with piano and vocals on one track; there would be no way to mix and master a final version of it that would stand up to the standard set by the rest of the Beatles' catalog.
After a few days of trying in vain, the Beatles decided to let it go, until or unless someone figured out a technique to separate John's voice from his piano so a proper recording could be produced.
Enter Jackson, whose team developed that precise technology in order to remix, remaster and edit the lauded documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back, in 2021. With the technology proven and available, McCartney decided to revisit "Now and Then."
"Paul called me up and said he'd like to work on 'Now And Then," Starr recalls. "He put the bass on. I put the drums on."
And because George had also worked on the song back in the '90s, the Beatles were able to use some of George's ideas on the final version.
"It's the last song that my dad and Paul and George and Ringo will get to make together," adds Ono Lennon.
The iHeartRadio World Premiere of The Beatles "Now And Then" is Thursday (Nov. 2) at 10 a.m. If you miss it live, iHeartRadio Classic Rock stations will play the historic single once every hour for the rest of the day. Listen here.