“Here we were, working with our Johnny”: Paul McCartney talks “Now and Then”

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Billed as The Beatles‘ last song, “Now and Then,” which was released last week, features vocal and instrumental contributions from all four members of the group, including the late John Lennon and George Harrison. Speaking to the BBC, Paul McCartney called the experience of recording the song joyful, lovely and magic.

“Now and Then” was a song Lennon had recorded on cassette prior to his death in 1980. Harrison, McCartney and Ringo Starr tried to record it in the ’90s, but the sound had degraded too much for them to make it work. However, thanks to the new technology that director Peter Jackson developed to make The Beatles: Get Back documentary, Lennon’s vocal and piano parts were able to be repaired enough to be used on the track.

“You could imagine he was just in the next room in a vocal booth or something, and we were just working with him again,” McCartney told the BBC about Lennon’s vocals. “And it was joyful. It was really lovely because we hadn’t experienced that for a long time, obviously. And then suddenly, here we were, working with our Johnny.”

“It’s very special for me to be singing with John again,” McCartney added.

And while Paul noted that he finds some forms of AI — like the ones online where people make his voice sing songs he never recorded — “sort of creepy,” he said, “What we were doing was just cleaning up John’s voice.”

In the U.K., “Now and Then” is on track to top the British charts. If it does, it would be the group’s first #1 in their home country since “The Ballad of John and Yoko” back in 1969.

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