Why ‘Now and Then’ Was Left off the Beatles’ ‘Anthology’
One of the most talked-about parts of the project were two "new" Beatles songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," which were constructed using old demos that John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, had given George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The surviving Beatles added vocals and instruments to their late bandmate's work, with the assistance of producers Jeff Lynne and George Martin.
A third song titled "Now and Then" was also considered for inclusion in Anthology; the track originated on a tape reportedly given to McCartney by Ono on which Lennon had written, "For Paul." "It was one day — one afternoon, really — messing with it," Lynne later explained. "The song had a chorus but is almost totally lacking in verses. We did the backing track, a rough go that we really didn't finish."
"Now and Then" did not get past this stage, however, because Harrison thought it was "fucking rubbish."
Listen to John Lennon's Demo for 'Now and Then'
But over the years, McCartney has expressed continued interest in working on the demo, which continues to circulate online. "It didn't have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking, but it had a beautiful verse and it had John singing it," McCartney explained to Q in 2006. "[But] George didn't like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn't do it."
In a 2023 interview, McCartney noted that he had been working on "a demo that John had" using the same AI technology that Peter Jackson, director of 2021's The Beatles: Get Back, had used for the film. "He [Jackson] was able to extricate John's voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney told the BBC's Radio 4. "We had John's voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, 'That's the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.'"
While McCartney didn't specify a title for the AI project, fans speculated that "Now and Then" could finally see the light of day as a new Beatles song.