Recording "Now And Then"

Wednesday, June 22, 1994 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles Anthology" sessions

Feb 11, 1994 - 1996 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Anthology 1

Timeline More from year 1994
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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(the content of this page is taken from https://reunionsessions.tripod.com/al/faabsessions/1994b.html)

The August 1994 issue of Beatles Monthly Magazine revealed that the three Beatles recorded at Paul’s Mill Studio in East Sussex on 22nd June. This was apparently their first get together in the studio since February, the delay being put down to George’s business negotiations for the sale of Handmade Films.

During this session, the group apparently continued work on the “Now And Then demo.

Speaking in December 1995, Jeff Lynne claimed the song (which has a chorus but is lacking in verses) was technically still without a formal title, but should it ever be completed, it would probably end up as either “Now And Then” or “Miss You“. The composition had not been included in “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series, despite claims that it had access to the complete Lennon archive.

Yoko Ono has confirmed it was she who chose the recording, selecting unreleased Lennon songs “very carefully“. She chose “Now And Then” (later copyrighted as “I Don’t Want To Lose You“) for almost therapeutic reasons:

Because these songs were to come from the Beatles. The Beatles will be singing to the world again. The implication of that was tremendous. I thought this was a song which would release people from their sorrow of losing John. By listening to the song, they will eventually be able to release their sorrow and arrive at an understanding that, actually, John is not lost to them. Paul, George and Ringo lost a great friend as well. If they sang this song from their hearts it would have helped many people around the world who felt the same.

Yoko Ono

Jeff Lynne had again been assisted in cleaning up the original “Now And Then/I Don’t Want To Lose You” tape by musician Marc Mann. Mann recalls that the demo they worked with had been recorded on a four-track (John’s voice was doubled) and he’d used a tambourine. Lynne didn’t want the tambourine, so they frequency notched around it so the filter would not affect John’s vocals substantially.

Soon after this work was done, a demo of “Now And Then“, complete with an annoying electrical buzz throughout, circulated on bootleg CDs. This bootleg demo had no tambourine, suggesting it was either a different recording to the one the Beatles had worked on, or perhaps this was a copy of the altered tape with the tambourine removed (unless Mann is confusing this song with “Grow Old With Me“, which has a tinny click track that sounds quite like a tambourine?).

Unfortunately, the “Now And Then” recordings the Beatles attempted on this day did not go well and the session was aborted early.

We had a go at it but there were a lot of words that hadn’t been completed on it. The playing on it was fine. It was just that the words weren’t finished, and quite a lot of them weren’t finished. It was a decision to do something that was already complete, so we could actually get it down on tape.

Jeff Lynne

It was one day – one afternoon, really – messing with it. 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. It was sort of a bluesy sort of ballad, I suppose, in A minor. It was a very sweet song; I liked it a lot, and I wished we could have finished it.

Jeff Lynne, 1995 interview, quoted in the Daily Express, April 29, 2007

It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking. It had a beautiful verse and it had John singing on it. But George didn’t want to do it.

The best thing about it all was to work with John again. Hearing him in the headphones, it was like he was in the next room. It’s like an impossible dream.

Paul McCartney, interview circa 2006, quoted in the Daily Express, April 29, 2007

Those who’ve heard it say it’s like a bit of a verse and a chorus, very skeletal. George just didn’t want to rework it because it’s not a matter of putting some vocals or a bit of bass and drums to finish it. With this, you have to really build the song.

Anonymous source, quoted in the Daily Express, April 29, 2007

George apparently suggested the group continue the next day, this time at his Friar Park Studios in his Henley-on-Thames mansion.

Note: Rumours that an Abbey Road studio had been booked on 11th/12th/13th July 1994 for further recordings (possibly with an orchestra) appear to have been unfounded (especially since neither “Free As A Bird” nor “Real Love” featured an orchestra when finally released). Another rumour spread that the three men were about to record there on 17th July.

Mark Lewisohn’s liner notes on the Anthology albums make no mention of any new recordings being made at Abbey Road, stating both of the new tracks were recorded at Paul’s studio. It is possible that any Abbey Road sessions the group attended around this time were playback or mixing sessions for the forthcoming Live At The BBC release.

Last updated on September 5, 2020

Songs recorded


1.

Now And Then

Written by John Lennon

Recording

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

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