Officially released a few days ago, the song “Now and Then” is reportedly the last Beatles song…
The song is a melancholy affair and the video, depending on the version you see, is either filled with footage from all Beatles eras or a more Pepper-esq piece.
It’s been interesting seeing/reading the reactions from people, most of which consists of tears and nostalgia as well as a realization that this song’s release is both a monumental accomplishment… and a final one.
While the song started as a John Lennon rough demo created in 1977, well after The Beatles split up, back when the three Anthology albums were released, an attempt was made to make it a proper song not unlike “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love”. Those two songs were also demos John Lennon created but wasn’t able to fashion into a “complete” work and were given to the remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, to complete.
But “Now and Then”, at least back then, was simply in too rough a shape to make into a proper release. Supposedly George Harrison ultimately refused to continue working on it and it was rejected and that was that…
…until years later and thanks to A.I. programming used by Peter Jackson to take all the Get Back footage and fix it up to make it usable.
Welp, that same program allowed Jackson to isolate John Lennon’s voice in the “Now and Then” demo and that, in turn, allowed the remaining Beatles, McCartney and Starr, to finally finish off the song. I believe there is some Harrison work in this new song, but I’ve also heard that Paul McCartney emulated Harrison’s style of guitar playing so I don’t know how much of Harrison is there in the end (no pun intended).
There’s a further interesting bit of history here: It has been reported, many years before McCartney would receive this demo, that the last time he saw John Lennon the very last thing he said to him was “Think of me every now and then, old friend.”
So, yeah, there’s considerable emotional baggage tied into this song and it spills over to the fans and… it’s a wonderful thing, in my opinion.
Paul McCartney is 81 years old now. Ringo Starr is 83.
We won’t have these icons of music around much longer and it’s wonderful to get another sample of their genius, even if it is via a project that was not originally created as a Beatles work.