|The LAST Beatles single - the 30th.
Credited to "The Beatles".
Side A - Now And Then (4:05)
Original composition - John Lennon
Side B - Love Me Do (2:22)
This version - John, Paul, George and Ringo
Produced by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin
Lennon - McCartney
Produced by George Martin
Originally recorded as a piano demo by John Lennon during his househusband years as can be heard in full on John Lennon: At Home.
In fact that demo has extra verses not used in this 2023 version.
It is said that a cassette tape was given to Paul McCartney by Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and labelled, "For Paul".
During the sessions for the Anthology CD box sets in the nineties, McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison worked on the tape with producer Jeff Lynne,
but quickly abandoned the song due to the inferior sound quality of the recording and Harrison, reportedly, disliking the song.
They did, however, finish two other Lennon demos, Free As A Bird and Real Love, which were released as singles.
Then in 2022, there was a stroke of serendipity.
A software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team - known as MAL - had been used throughtout the re-production of the documentary series Get Back.
It finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John's vocal from the piano part.
As a result, the original recording could be worked on anew.
Ringo contributed freshly recorded drums and in homage to George, Paul came up with a slide guitar part.
He and Ringo blended their voices into the chorus and one last subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of
Here, There And Everywhere and Because.
One final bit of happenstance, eventually reflected in the image used - along with a new painting by American artist Ed Ruscha - on the cover art.
A clock featuring the words Now and Then.
This clock was created by an American artist called Chris Griffin and bought by George Harrison in 1997 from a shop in Providence, Rhode Island.
George's wife Olivia had recently put the clock on her mantelpiece and she recalls ....
"I put it on the mantelpiece,, then the phone rang. It's Paul and he begins to remind me of the third song called Now And Then.
I'm standing there with the phone in one hand, looking at the clock that said Now and Then.
I was dumbfounded, I said, I think this is George saying it's ok."
My black vinyl copy has in the run-out groove, the following:
MILES ABBEY ROAD 1/2 SPEED ROOM 30
The single entered the Official U.K. singles chart on 3rd November 2023 at number 42.
Second week in the chart the single climbed to number 1 .... and smashed a number of records (see below).
Third week in the chart down five places to number 6.
Chart progression: 42 - 1 - 6 - so far
Now And Then set a new record for the longest time span between an artist's first and last Number 1.
Reaching the top of the Official Chart 60 years and 6 months after The Beatles' First Number 1 - From Me To You in May 1963.
(although, some would say Please Please Me was the first UK number one three months earlier !)
Now And Then also broached another record-breaking gap - longest gap between two number one singles EVER.
The band's last Number 1 prior to Now And Then was a whole 54 years earlier, 1969's The Ballad Of John And Yoko.
The single is not only the fastest selling single of 2023 (so far), but was also the UK's fastest-selling vinyl single of the century too,
as well as the biggest one-week physical sales in nearly a decade.
The erstwhile Moptops also set new personal bests digitally too, notching up the most streams in a week of any Beatles song ever (5 million),
while Now And Then became the band's most-viewed official music video in a week with over 2 million UK video streams.
And if you wondered why it entered the chart in it's first week down outside the top 40, it had been released six days into the Official Chart week and
with just ten hours of sales counting toward its weekly total, Now And Then still managed to debut at Number 42 on the UK's Official Singles Chart !
The music video for the song was directed by Peter Jackson.
"A Beatles music video must have great Beatles footage at its core," he insisted. "There's no way actors or CGI Beatles should be used."
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr responded by shooting footage of themselves playing the song.
While Apple Corps Ltd. unearthed over 14 hours of unseen film footage from 1995, when McCartney, Starr, and George Harrison first attempted to record "Now and Then."
Additional unseen clips were handed over to Jackson, including the earliest known footage of the Beatles, performing in leather suits.
"I have genuine pride in what we made, and I'll cherish that for years to come," Jackson said.