Director Peter Jackson, known for his highly praised documentary Get Back, is further collaborating with the Beatles by creating his debut music video for the group’s last track, titled Now and Then.
The film will showcase never-before-seen footage of the band, including a few seconds of the Beatles performing in their leather suits. According to Jackson, this is the earliest known footage of the Beatles and has never been released before.
The film Now and Then showcases all four members of the Beatles, with guitar recordings by the deceased George Harrison from 1995 and vocals by John Lennon from a demo in the late 70s before his death in 1980. Jackson was involved in using AI-powered software to separate Lennon’s vocals from the demo recording, having previously used this technology in creating 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 revealed plans for the upcoming release of the Now and Then music video. He expressed feeling overwhelmed and anxious at the idea of creating it, as his deep admiration for the Beatles clashed with his fear of disappointing others. This inner turmoil stemmed from his lack of experience in making music videos and the daunting task of honoring a band that disbanded over 50 years ago, never performed the featured song, and has lost half of its members. He admits that running away seemed like the easier option, but ultimately took some time to come up with a valid reason for declining the opportunity.
Jackson stated at length that he ultimately had an abundance of footage to utilize, a significant portion of which was captured in 1995 during the group’s attempt to create an unfinished rendition of “Now and Then.” Sean Lennon and Olivia Harrison, the widow of George Harrison, contributed “fantastic previously unseen home videos,” while Pete Best, the Beatles’ first drummer, provided footage of his performance in a leather suit.
Jackson explains that he repeatedly played Now and Then in hopes of finding motivation that would “magically emerge” from the music. To his surprise, this started to occur. The more he listened, the more he felt like the song was sparking ideas and visuals in his mind, without him having to consciously try.
The author explains discovering “a series of previously unpublished clips in the storage, showing the Beatles in a casual, humorous, and candid light. These clips serve as the central focus in our middle segment, and we incorporated the comedic elements into footage filmed in 2023. The end result is quite eccentric and brings a much-needed balance of sorrow and levity to the video.”
Jackson expresses his sincere satisfaction with the completed video, and states that he will treasure it for many years to come.
In November 2021, the film Get Back, directed by Jackson, was released to critical acclaim. It features behind-the-scenes footage of the band working on songs in real time, giving viewers an intimate look into their creative process. However, the film’s lengthy runtime of eight hours proved to be a challenge for some viewers. In a review, the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis expressed frustration with the excessive amount of uninteresting dialogue, stating that while there were moments of brilliance, they were overshadowed by long periods of mundane conversation.
The release of Now and Then is highly anticipated by Beatles enthusiasts, who believed it would never be made available to the public. In 1995, the recording sessions resulted in two new Beatles tracks, Free As a Bird and Real Love, both of which reached the top 10 in the UK and were featured on the Anthology compilation series. However, Harrison faced challenges in completing Now and Then and efforts to finish the track were ultimately unsuccessful.
Olivia Harrison announced the completed edition last week, stating that in 1995, George encountered technical difficulties while working on the track in the studio and ultimately decided that it was impossible to finish it to his desired level of quality. If he were present today, his son Dhani and I are confident he would have eagerly joined Paul and Ringo in finalizing the recording of Now and Then.
At 2pm GMT on Thursday, November 2nd, the music video for Now and Then will debut together with the song. This single is being released as a dual A-side, with Love Me Do, the band’s initial single, on the opposite side. The cover artwork was designed by pop artist Ed Ruscha.
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the track, “Now and Then – The Last Beatles Song,” will be shown on Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30pm GMT, both on BBC One and on YouTube.
Currently, Now and Then will be featured on a reissue of the Beatles’ compilation album 1967-1970 (referred to as The Blue Album), while 1962-1966 (known as The Red Album) will also receive a reissue on November 10.