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The Beatles’ Now and Then: Is it necessary?

By Daman Singh, November 23 2023—

There’s buzz all around the internet about these men from Liverpool releasing this song that might just put them on the map. It might just be the track they need to get that big record deal. Oh, I’m certain you’ve never heard of them. They’re the new internet sensation using AI tools and lost demos to create music, the underground indie band — The Beatles.

More than five decades after their last album Let It Be (1970) and after they’ve made their impact on history as one of the most influential studio bands in pop music, Paul McCartney and Ringo Star decided to finish what they started in the ’90s with George Harrison during The Anthology Series sessions: creating the final Beatles’ tracks from John Lemmon’s unfinished demos.

After Lennon’s passing, Yoko Ono gave the remaining members a demo tape that included some unfinished tracks from his life and the group took it upon themselves to complete some of those tracks. While “Free as a bird” and “Real Love” made it to the Anthologies in the 90s, “Now and Then” was shelved because it was not possible to get John’s vocals separated from the piano track, as the technology wasn’t capable enough. 30 years later, as filtering technology got better by the day, it became possible to bring “Now and Then” back to life and McCartney jumped at the opportunity to create the “Last Beatles Track”, as they call it.

“One, two….”, and so begins the final track the Beatles will ever put out, offering crisp and melodic vocals from Lennon with his melancholic chord progressions. Using remnants of Harrison’s 1994 effort to bring the song back and new recordings by the remaining two members, the band put together what feels like a Beatles song if an AI was told to listen to their discography and create a song. The overpowering rhythm section that McCartney and Starr put together flushed down what Lennon originally wrote, and the song isn’t supposed to be this upbeat classic Beatles track. The arrangement throws away all the progress the Beatles made in their career and takes away from the individual progress George and John made in their musical career too. 

The duo tries to bend the song into a McCartney song, which isn’t a bad thing since most of the group’s discography is Lennon-McCartney, but it was stuff they worked on together unlike this track. McCartney’s attempt to bring this song into his style takes the original emotion away from it. The track feels like it came out from Rubber Soul and they forced strings into it. It could have been laid laid-back production in the style of Imagine (1971), which would actually be a “goodbye” to the discography in a poetic way, but instead, it just goes to show why the Beatles didn’t work out after the Abbey Road Sessions.  

So, is it really necessary for McCartney and Starr to finish what they started? No, not really. In honesty, the official “last” Beatles track is “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)”, and beyond that is just nostalgia and the obsession to bring your story to a new generation that could have been stopped at their Disney+ Get Back sessions’ docu-series.

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