Director Peter Jackson, known for his acclaimed documentary Get Back, is extending his collaboration with the Beatles by creating his debut music video for the band’s last track, Now and Then.
The film will showcase never-before-seen footage of the band, including a few seconds of the Beatles performing in their iconic leather suits. This is the earliest known film of the Beatles and has never been shown before.
The musical event Now and Then showcases performances by all four members of The Beatles. The guitar sections were originally recorded by the late George Harrison in 1995, while the vocals by John Lennon were taken from a demo made in the late 70s before his passing in 1980. Jackson was involved in the use of AI technology to separate Lennon’s vocals from the demo recording. This was not the first time Jackson had used this technology, having previously used it in the production of Get Back to isolate various elements of the recording process for songs featured on The Beatles’ last albums, Let It Be and Abbey Road.
Jackson has recently announced the release of the Now and Then music video, expressing his apprehension towards the daunting task. He admits that his deep admiration for the Beatles clashed with his fear of disappointing others. This created a sense of insecurity as he had never directed a music video before and couldn’t fathom how to create one for a band that disbanded 50 years ago, never performed the song, and had some members who have passed away. He considered backing out of the project but took some time to come up with a valid reason for declining the opportunity.
In a detailed explanation, Jackson states that he had a large amount of footage to use, most of it filmed in 1995 during the Beatles’ attempts to create a version of Now and Then that was ultimately left unfinished. Lennon’s son Sean and Harrison’s wife Olivia shared “some fantastic unseen home videos,” while Pete Best, the original Beatles drummer, provided footage of his performance in his leather suit.
Jackson explains that he repeatedly played Now and Then in hopes of finding inspiration that would come from the music. He eventually found that this was indeed the case, as the song began to evoke ideas and visualizations in his mind without him having to consciously think about it.
He explains discovering previously unreleased footage in the vault, featuring the Beatles in a relaxed and candid state. This footage became the main focus of our middle section and was seamlessly integrated with footage shot in 2023, adding a humorous element. The end result is a unique and balanced video that incorporates both serious and lighthearted moments.
Jackson expresses his deep satisfaction with the completed video, stating that he will hold onto it with fondness for many years to come.
In November 2021, the film Get Back, directed by Jackson, was praised for its intimate studio footage capturing the band’s real-time song creation process. However, its lengthy eight-hour duration proved to be a challenge for viewers. In a review, the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis expressed frustration with the abundance of unengaging conversations, stating that they overshadowed moments of creativity and intrigue.
The release of Now and Then has been highly anticipated by Beatles fans, despite previous beliefs that it would never happen. In 1995, the band recorded two new songs, Free As a Bird and Real Love, which both became hits in the UK when they were released and were later featured on the Anthology compilation series. However, George Harrison faced challenges in completing the track Now and Then, leading to its eventual abandonment.
Last week, Olivia Harrison announced the completed version of a track that her husband George had worked on in 1995. Due to technical difficulties, George had felt it was impossible to finish the track to his desired standard. If he were alive today, his son Dhani and Olivia believe he would have enthusiastically joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of “Now and Then.”
The music video for Now and Then will debut alongside the song at 2pm GMT on Thursday, November 2nd. The track is being launched as a double A-side single, featuring the band’s first single, Love Me Do, on the opposite side. The cover art was designed by pop artist Ed Ruscha.
A behind-the-scenes video about the creation of the song, “Now and Then – The Last Beatles Song,” will be broadcasted on Wednesday, November 1st at 7:30pm GMT on BBC One and YouTube.
Currently, Now and Then is being added to the re-release of the Beatles’ compilation album 1967-1970, also known as The Blue Album. The Red Album, known as 1962-1966, will also be reissued on November 10th.