Film review: ‘Now and Then — The Last Beatles Song’

I just finished watching “Now And Then — The Last Beatles Song” documentary filmwritten and directed by Oliver Murray and produced by Jonathan Clyde of Apple Corps. I then then immediately watched it again. (It’s only 12 minutes long.)

The film features the voices of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr telling the story from 2023, along with comments from George Harrison back in 1995 and new commentary from John Lennon’s son Sean.  

Using a mixture of vintage Beatles footage and footage shot of Paul, Ringo and George together during the Threetles sessions in the mid-1990s, it tells the story of how Paul, George and ringo attempted to do something with John’s piano demo of “Now and Then,” recorded on cassette, back then for “The Beatles Anthology.”

Unfortunately, they couldn’t overcome the problem of the sound of the piano obscuring parts of Lennon’s vocal on the low-fi cassewtte and so, Paul says, “I think we kind of ran out of steam a bit … and time.”

After George died in 2001, Paul adds, “it took the wind out of our sails.”

Then, after Sir Peter Jackson’s team came up technology to separate different elements of a recording into separate tracks during the making of the “Get Back” film, they decided to put that technology to use on “Now and Then,” which Macca said had “languished in a cupboard” all these years.

Jackson is heard in the film, explaining the machine-learning process. Says Sean: “My dad would have loved that, because he was never shy to experiment with recording technology. … I think it’s beautiful.”

When a portion of John’s unencumbered vocal lifted out of the noisy cassette is played in the film, it gave me goosebumps. (As Ringo says, it’s like John is there.)

Then, we see footage of Paul adding a new bass line, Ringo adding drums and Paul says that Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer Sir George Martin, wrote a string accompaniment “like his dad would have done in the old days.”

We see McCartney at the session at Capitol Records in Hollywood where strings were added to the track. He says they had to give the musicians the music to play, but they didn’t tell them it was for a Beatles song. “We pretended it was just something of mine.”

Paul then explains that they used some of the guitar George played during the 1995 sessions for track and says he decided to record a new slide guitar solo “played in George’s style” as a tribute to Harrison.

A portion of the finished “Now and Then” (which will have its premiere at 10 a.m. Nov. 2) then is played, and Sean notes: “It was incredibly powerful to hear them all working together after all the years that my dad has been gone.”

You can watch the mini-documentary on The Beatles’ YouTube channel (, or on Disney+, where I watched it.

For more background, go to:

Bill King