The track was mainly sung by John Lennon, who was shot dead in 1980, meaning it was the first time generations of fans had heard him performing a new song for decades – and thousands around the world were overcome with emotion.
Listening parties have been held all over the world, including in their home city of Liverpool at The Cavern Club and The Beatles’ Museum on Albert Dock. Tears were shed as the song played.
Singer and former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher tweeted: “Now n Then absolutely incredible biblical celestial heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time long live The Beatles LG x.”
BBC Radio 2 listeners, the first to hear it in the UK at 2pm, said they were in tears as it played. One, Gemma from Nottingham, said: “Just wow. I got the shivers when I heard the one, two at the beginning of the track. That was amazing. I’m actually feeling a little bit emotional now.”
Another said: “I’m in tears listening to the new Beatles track. Let’s hope we have the Fab Four for Christmas number one.”
READ MORE John Lennon’s two other posthumous Beatles songs before Now and Then
A third fan said: “I’m only in my mid 30s but The Beatles were a massive part of my childhood with my parents listening to them, and now this new song. I’m in tears, it sounds so haunting yet so beautiful.”
On X, formerly twitter, Beatles fan Laura Albas said: “I am crying, you are crying, we are all crying but also of pure joy.”
Another fan April Dwyer said: “Oh my god, I’m crying. That was amazing.”
After listening, DJ Lauren Laverne said: “I cried like a baby. And I never cry. It’s global treasure, isn’t it? I couldn’t get over the resonance of the title: to have this final track that’s arrived out of the mists of time, which takes us back to the beginning of this amazing story – this story that’s become part of our national character.
“It’s the story of Britain in the 20th century, I think. Lads from an industrial city who represent so strongly what Britain did, as we moved from this industrial country to being a place where arts and culture is made. Which is very much what we’re about now: this is a place where ideas are born. They represent this story about Britain, about who we all are. They represent us”.
“Obviously I listen to some very difficult stories when people are talking to me for Desert Island Discs. They’re often very emotional episodes, but with this, I actually did cry.
“I’m quite a softie in real life, so I have a thing where I just can’t cry at work. But someone said to me, ‘I think you might get emotional hearing this…’ And I do have very deep connections to the Beatles.”
After playing the track on Radio 6 music, DJ Craig Charles said: Craig Charles: “There you go. The closing chapter for arguably the greatest band in rock history.
“The track’s been 45 years in the making. John Lennon started writing it back in 1978, and it was finally completed this year […] But I’m not quite sure if it is the end of the road, because with AI now they can visit loads more of their forgotten material. I mean, for me, that has just sent goosebumps all over me.”
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