It looks highly likely as you read this. The Beatles have just secured their 18th UK number one with their final ever song, ‘Now & Then’.
It brings to a close a week of surprises, including a mini-documentary on the making of the final song, a music video directed by Peter Jackson, and, of course, the release of the final piece of The Beatles jigsaw puzzle ‘Now & Then’.
To discuss this and also the launch of his series of Beatlemania shows, which will be available weekly online via zestradio.co.uk, we caught up with Jeff Nolan.
From Crash FM to Heart FM and now Zest Jeff, he has been a regular fixture on the radio, not just here in Liverpool but at many stations across the UK. He also happens to be a self-confessed Beatles nerd.
Our First question I suppose is what are your thoughts on the final song?
Where do I start? This has been one of the great what if stories when it come to this tune because like most Beatles fans I was expecting it to turn up on Anthology 3 back in the 1990s.
Back then there was the obvious obstacle of the technology issues around separating John from Piano and the hum of his TV (which was on as he played it and is audible on the original demo)
The other major problem was the fact we were led to believe George hated it so for those reasons it was abandoned. When George passed, I think we all thought well that’s it, we’re never hearing it now but as the years went by Paul started to talk about finishing it then out of nowhere earlier this year he dropped the bomb it was finished & set for release.
The song I love! Not ashamed to say like a lot of people it brought a tear to my eye. The crystal clear clarity in John’s voice singing again side by side with Paul is just beautiful.
Throw in Ringo’s trademark drums, Paul’s slide, George on guitar & the magical string arrangement by Giles Martin it’s just mind blowing.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have listened to it now and each time I still can’t believe its here. A new Beatles song in 2023! Wow!
The other aspect I love so much is us knowing the last thing John ever said to Paul in person as he left the Dakota in New York was “Think about me every now and then, old friend.”.
I can’t help but think this played on Paul’s mind and drove him to get this finished for John if anything.
It’s so relatable too. We’ve all lost people and dreamt how great if they could come back for that one moment, just a fleeting visit to let us know they’re ok? I feel like that’s what has happened here with John.
It’s almost mystical especially during the troubled times we live in right now. Just when we needed them the Beatles came back to put a smile on all our faces with a message of love & hope.
Why do you think The Beatles are so important?
I could probably spend a day, week, even month talking and still not touch the surface. They changed everything, rewrote the script about how it was done music wise then kept raising the bar, evolving, inspiring. The body of work they created in lets face it a very short period of time is unmatched.
We then have the solo careers which dominate the 70’s and the story just goes on & on to this day where in 2023 they’re back at number 1.
They’re the nations band. You could see that with the crazy coverage by the BBC building up to the song. The Rolling Stones released their new album a few weeks back which was celebrated & a big deal but they got nowhere near the attention & buzz The Beatles have created this past week.
There was that story a few years ago which stated just to us here in the City of Liverpool they still bring in around £81m + a year which is staggering.
It’s a story like no other and as Brian Epstein said when asked by Journalist Larry Kane, how long he thought they would last — he replied: “I’m telling you, Larry, there’s no other band, there will never be a band like them, for all eternity.” They’re the best I’m telling you Larry here in 1965 that 2000’s kids will be listening to Beatles.
Well I’m telling you now in the year 3000 people will still be listening to them!
How did you discover the Beatles?
I think it’s not if but when you discover them being from round here. The Beatles are almost like family to us all due to the pride we have in them as a city. When we last caught up a couple of years ago I mentioned my love of music begins when I found my Dad’s Beatles tape (which I played until it snapped).
From that point on it was a love affair which lasts to this day. It’s taken me all around the world from Hamburg to the Hilton Amsterdam to New York City following in their footsteps at various Beatle places. Whever I go I’ll find somewhere they either played or made famous some way.
I’ve also met so many amazing people connected to the band too especially at the Beatles Museum in Matthew Street which is a must visit for anyone who wants to learn more about the band. Roag & his team have a collection of items unmatched by anyone really plus you might meet Pete Best if you visit.
Alongside being lucky to not just see Paul in Concert numerous times I was also invited to a Q&A with him at LIPA and be in attendance when he performed at the Cavern in 2018. Two days I’ll never ever forget!
My children aside my life is dominated by The Beatles & Everton (I have to mention them being my other great love).
So you’re about to launch a Beatles show on Zest! I didn’t think Zest played the Beatles?
We don’t but our sister station on the South Coast called Zest 60s does and for the past year until recently I presented a weekly show called Beatlemania. Each week I really dug into the archive playing rare tracks, studio sessions, live performances basically everything. I also delved into the meaning & stories behind the songs and moments that made the Beatles the greatest band the world has ever seen.
When I finished the show I really wanted to find a home up here so we have decided from this weekend we’ll upload an episode weekly to zestradio.co.uk to give it another run.
It was one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my career this show and receiving messages from all around the globe to people listening online was such an amazing experience. I really wanted though once we wrapped things up with the live weekly show to get it online and available to listen up here (or wherever you are right now).
This weekend with the boys back on top feels the right time to do it. I really hope people enjoy listening to it and maybe learn a few things.
On the subject of Zest how are things at the station since we last caught up?
Things are great. Radio in general is beginning to really thrive again with launch of a lot of smaller local stations across not just in Liverpool but the UK courtesy of Small Scale DAB. I talked last time when we spoke about that next generation of presenters getting opportunities to get into radio & the launch of these smaller stations will really help that.
With regards to Zest Breakfast we’ve continued to welcome a load of guests onto the show recently including Sam Ryder, Tim Burgess, James Bay to name a few alongside just having a laugh each morning and playing some great music. We’re a feelgood station and the music we play reflects that. If you’ve not sampled us for a while what are you waiting for? Trust me you won’t regret it!
The station has really continued to grow with well over a million tune ins monthly online alongside the audience that listen across 3 transmitters covering the North West and beyond!
We’re also about launch things nationally via zestradio.co.uk which is where you’ll hear the Beatles show alongside some other exciting plans heading into 2024. I can tell you about them though next time.
And finally favorite Beatles song?
Oh bloody hell I knew you’d ask me that so have been thinking long & hard but honestly I can’t commit to an answer. It’s like being asked to name my favorite kid?
Actually my son is called Jude so can I pick ‘Hey Jude’?
No, for now because I want people to download it & buy it so its number 1 forever I’ll say Now & Then.
Check out Jeff on the airwaves on Zest Breakfast every Monday-Friday from 7am! On DAB, Online, On Smart speakers & Mobile.
To hear Beatlemania with Jeff visit zestradio.co.uk and select Zest 60s option. New episodes added each Friday.