As The New Yorker notes, after Lennon’s death “[Yoko] Ono gave the surviving [Beatles] members demos that he’d recorded at home.” McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr would work to complete three of those tracks. Two – “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” – were finished and included in the band’s Anthology series. The third song, “Now and Then,” was abandoned.
Harrison gave a clearer reason for the song being discarded, reportedly referring to “Now and Then” as “fucking rubbish.”
Still, McCartney has shown continued interest in revisiting the song. In 2006, he told Q it was “a pity” that “Now and Then” never got completed. “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,” he explained. “But George didn’t wanna do it.”
Listen to John Lennon’s ‘Now and Then’ Demo
The demo version of the song, which was never officially released but has circulated online, features Lennon singing the soft, mournful ballad accompanied by piano. The low quality of the tape recording also likely played a role in “Now and Then” being abandoned prior to Anthology, though modern technology could help McCartney clean up Lennon’s parts if he indeed goes through with finishing the track.
Meanwhile, Beatles fans have more immediate releases to be excited for. The Let It Be special edition box set arrives on Friday, while The Beatles: Get Back, the three-episode, six-hour documentary helmed by Peter Jackson covering the Let It Be recording sessions, premieres Nov. 25 on Disney+.
The Best Song From Every Beatles Album
Consensus can be difficult to reach on which Beatles album is best – much less which song.