‘Now and Then’: The Beatles’ Last Gift to Fans
The Beatles have been an iconic band for generations, with their music continuing to resonate with fans around the world. And now, 45 years after their breakup, the band has released what is being billed as their final song, “Now and Then.” This wistful postscript to their legendary career is a heartfelt tribute to their enduring love for one another and a glimpse into the past greatness of the Fab Four.
The story behind “Now and Then” is as fascinating as the song itself. It began as a modest demo recorded by John Lennon on a boombox at home in the late ’70s, with the sound of a TV in the background. Over the years, the band attempted to polish up the demo, but faced challenges due to the original tape quality and the persistent hiss and background noise. It wasn’t until the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, similar to that used in Peter Jackson’s documentary “The Beatles: Get Back,” that the song was finally brought to life.
Using AI, Lennon’s vocal, piano, and extraneous background sounds were separated and removed, allowing the band to create a credible full-band production of “Now and Then.” The addition of a guitar part by the late George Harrison, recorded during the mid-’90s sessions, adds a poignant touch to the song. While some may question the use of AI in the production process, it’s important to note that this is not a case of a zombie AI Lennon writing and performing a song from scratch. Instead, it’s a heartfelt, lovingly rendered curiosity that pays tribute to the band’s legacy.
Lyrically, “Now and Then” is a cocktail of emotions, with themes of appreciation, nostalgia, and deep wistfulness. It’s a reflection of The Beatles in 2023, with half of its members having passed away far too soon and the other half looking back on Lennon’s words through the lens of their early 80s. While the song may not offer much insight, it serves as a bittersweet reminder of the band’s greatness and their enduring impact on music.
Accompanying the release of “Now and Then” is a music video directed by Peter Jackson, who also helmed the acclaimed documentary. The video features never-before-seen archival footage of the Fab Four, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the late John Lennon and George Harrison. Described as both poignant and humorous, the video celebrates The Beatles’ timeless and enduring love for one another.
For fans of The Beatles, “Now and Then” is a must-listen. It may not surpass the body of work that precedes it, but it serves as a fitting closure to their legendary career. As the band members reflect on their departed friends with a mix of sadness and gratitude, the song reminds us to cherish every Beatles moment we’ve got.
In a world that is constantly changing, The Beatles’ music remains a timeless treasure. Their final song, “Now and Then,” is a testament to their enduring legacy and a poignant reminder of the impact they’ve had on generations of music lovers. So sit back, press play, and let The Beatles take you on a nostalgic journey through the past.