The Beatles’ influence on music is undeniable. The Fab Four dominated the music scene of the 1960s and the success of their discography is unlikely to be replicated. The band broke up in 1970, which looked to be the end of The Beatles. Then when John Lennon died in 1980, it really looked like the end. However, the music has not died just yet. A new Beatles song has been released to the world. On Nov. 2, the newest Beatles song “Now and Then” was released. Lennon wrote the song in the 1970s and it became adapted by the Beatles in the 1990s. Considering half of the Beatles are no longer alive, the process to engineer this song was not the same as it was in the 1960s. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the surviving Beatles, were able to record new vocals for this song. Lennon’s vocals had to be extracted from early demos with modern technology used to mix his vocals with rest of the Beatles and make them clean. Harrison, who died in 2001, had his vocals and guitar tunes borrowed from a 1995 session where a release of this song was considered. This combination of decades of work leads to the first Beatles song in decades. The song demonstrates how timeless their music can be and that the magic is still alive.
“Now and Then” is four minutes and eight seconds of nostalgia for an exciting era of music. I was not alive for that era, but I have found myself connecting more with songs from this time compared to some modern music. I recognize the pretension that comes with that statement, but it’s true. The best way to categorize “Now and Then” would be as a soft rock ballad. Between the slow music and the emotional lyrics, it is clear that this is a song that is meant to tug at the listeners’ heart strings. However, it is not so slow to be a normal ballad. That is not to say that the song is dreary and too slow. The song still has a slight amount of energy that keeps the listener focused. It appears that the ballad is a love song. Based on the lyrics, this song seems to be sung to the object of the singer’s affections. With lyrics like “I know it’s true. It’s all because of you,” there is love packed deep into this song. Since this was written exclusively by Lennon in the seventies, it does not really belong to a specific era of Beatles music. It belongs to the 1970s, which was a different time for Lennon’s career certainly. The song is closer to the time where he wrote “Imagine” than the time when he was writing songs for The Beatles. However, since The Beatles came together to work on this song, it has become theirs, almost like a new direction. In a way, that makes the song special, and a special song should be necessary when it could possibly be the last song by The Beatles.
Along with McCartney, Lennon’s songwriting was the driving force behind most of The Beatles’ successful songs. Considering Lennon’s previous songwriting success, it is no surprise that the lyrics to this song are powerful. The song expresses that the love interest is the singer’s whole world. The interesting part is how this impact is accomplished with so few lyrics. The song is a little over four minutes long, but a lot of verses are repeated so that it ends up being around four unique verses in total. There could have been more details within this song to paint a more exciting picture. However, this song is still able to be a terrific listen because the few lyrics that the song has are great lyrics. So much emotion can be conveyed in so few words, and that is the sign of a talented songwriter. For example, the chorus goes, “Now and then, I miss you. Oh, now and then, I want you to be there for me. Always to return to me.” In just a couple lines, a story is being told. That is what makes the song special and would be a great one to dedicate to someone’s true love. There are no frills and fuss with these lyrics. Through this song, Lennon and The Beatles are delivering a message, and it is one that is clearly understood.
For a soft rock ballad, there is quite a bit of energy found in the tune. The song starts off slow, with piano and a bit of guitar. Eventually the drums come in to give the tune more depth. At the chorus, all of the instruments get a bit faster and louder. By the next verse, it is not as fast but still loud. Also, at this point, a different guitar is added in, which makes the sound more vibrant. Overall, the music of this song is really catchy and all of the instruments blend together well. However, while the loudness of the tune works well, it was almost too loud at some points relative to the singing. That does not mean the music should have been quieter, but the singing should have been louder. That would create a nice balance while still holding on to the vibrance that the loud music brings. It’s the type of melody that you would want to listen to while lying down in bed and thinking about life. However, it could also make you a bit emotional. Even without the lyrics, there is something about the way the tune progresses, likely based a lot on the power of the piano, that makes the tune of the song stick to your heart. This tune is certainly one that is meant to be about love.
So is this song the best Beatles song ever made? Obviously not. While this is a good song, there are too many classic Beatles songs that are catchier and have more intrigue. If this song was released during The Beatles’ heyday, it would probably be enjoyed, but it likely would not be a big hit. That could partially be because it has more of a ’70s sound than a ’60s sound, but then again, there could also be a bias towards the older Beatles songs as those are the songs I’ve known for years as opposed to a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, “Now and Then” is a song I could see myself listening to multiple times. In fact, I have already listened to it multiple times. The song is full of emotions and displays the talent of all of The Beatles’ members, specifically Lennon. It is fascinating how the song is able to wonderfully blend recordings from different times for each of the members and make it all sound natural. From Lennon’s cassette tape to 1977 to the session work in 1995 with Harrison to the modern updates of just McCartney and Starr, the song captures different eras of The Beatles. However, through modern technology, it is like they were all recording the song together, which makes for a fantastic final product. We thought we said goodbye to The Beatles a long time ago, but this song welcomed them back for a new goodbye that was full of passion and love. However, while we do have to say another farewell to The Beatles once again, songs like this one will be kept alive as long as we keep listening to them.