The Beatles' final track "Now and Then" is special for many reasons, and Olivia Harrison just added another. George Harrison's widow shared a "surprisingly magical story" about the track name's special meaning to her husband in a new video on his social media account.
“We were in this store, George saw this clock made out of bits and pieces and it had some Scrabble letters and it just said ‘Now And Then’,” she recalled in the clip. “He was attracted to it for some reason, he just took it off the wall and bought it. [He] built this little Russian dacha in the garden and hung the clock on it and there it sat for 25 years.”
At the end of last summer, she cleaned up the clock and brought it inside to sit on the mantle, and then the phone rang. "It’s Paul [McCartney] and and he begins to explain, reminding me of this third song that was on the cassette tape with ‘Real Love’ and ‘Free As A Bird’. I said, ‘I remember it, it’s called ‘Now and Then”. And I’m standing there looking at the clock," Olivia continued. “We were so moved and happy that this thing that George had held in his hand somehow magically appeared. And I said, ‘I think this is Georgie saying it’s OK.’”
Watch the heartwarming video below.
The story of "Now and Then" began 46 years ago. In 1977, Lennon recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home at the Dakota in New York City. In 1994, his wife Yoko Ono gave the recording to the band's surviving members McCartney, Starr, and Harrison, along with “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love.” The latter two were completed as new Beatles songs and respectively released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project. The trio also worked on parts for "Now and Then" but technology at the time restricted them from separating Lennon's vocals from the piano, and they were unable to achieve the clear mix they needed to release it.
Fast forward to 2021, and Peter Jackson's team behind The Beatles: Get Back docuseries found a way to de-mix the film's mono soundtrack. They applied the same technology to "Now and Then" and were able to isolate Lennon's vocals. The next year, McCartney and Starr set out to complete the track, which includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by Harrison, who passed away in 2001; Starr’s new drum part; and bass, guitar and piano from McCartney that matches Lennon’s original playing. McCartney also added a slide guitar solo inspired by Harrison, and he and Starr contributed backing vocals to the chorus.
"Now and Then" will be released as a double A-side single along with The Beatles' very first single, "Love Me Do," making it a truly full circle moment. It will also be the final track on a new version of The Beatles' anthologies 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, also known as the Red and Blue albums. The latest edition of the anthologies, featuring 75 tracks, was released on November 10.