The Beatles’ Final Song “Now and Then” Receives Mixed Reviews
Advancements in Technology Bring Forth “Now and Then”
In a surprising release, The Beatles’ “last” ever song, “Now and Then,” has recently surfaced, and it’s receiving mixed reviews from critics.
The track, originally written and sung by John Lennon, was later developed by the remaining band members, including George Harrison.
Decades after its initial recording, the song was completed by Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr.
This remastered track, which was officially released by Apple, Capitol, and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), was sourced from a Lennon demo and employs cutting-edge technology to extract and isolate his voice.
A Qualified Success
The Guardian’s music critic, Alexis Petridis, has given “Now and Then” four stars and labeled it a “qualified success.”
Petridis noted that technology has resolved issues with Lennon’s vocals and that McCartney’s aged voice is skillfully managed by keeping it low in the mix.
This approach allows McCartney’s presence to be felt without overshadowing the composition.
Differing Views on the Chorus
However, not all critics share the same perspective.
Neil McCormick, music critic for The Telegraph, has a distinct take on the song, awarding it three stars.
He described the McCartney-led chorus as an “anticlimactic plod” and found the chords and harmonies uninteresting, drawn from old Beatle recordings.
Nevertheless, he expressed his appreciation for the song’s existence, considering it a “toast to days gone by.”
A Universal Theme
Will Hodgkinson, rock and pop critic for The Times, also awarded “Now and Then” three stars.
He remarked on the song’s theme, suggesting that it strikes a universal chord.
The completion of a song by McCartney, featuring lyrics like “Now and then, I miss you/ Now and then, I want you to be there for me,” is particularly poignant, given the songwriting partner’s tragic history.
Real Emotions in an Artificed Song
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, writing for the Financial Times, echoed the sentiment with three stars, characterizing “Now and Then” as a “highly artificed song” while acknowledging the genuine emotions it conveys.
He pointed out that McCartney and Starr, both in their eighties, signify the approaching time when the world will no longer have a living Beatle.
The Making of “Now and Then”
The story behind “Now and Then” dates back to the late 1970s when John Lennon recorded a demo at his New York home.
After Lennon’s untimely death in 1980, Yoko Ono handed over the recording to the remaining Beatles in 1994, along with “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” both of which were subsequently released by the band.
In the ’90s, George Harrison, Sir Paul, and Sir Ringo contributed new parts to the song, along with producer and musician Jeff Lynne.
A Technological Breakthrough
However, limitations in technology at the time prevented the release of “Now and Then.”
It was only through Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back,” that audio restoration technology was used to isolate vocals, music, and conversations by the band.
This innovation facilitated the new mix of the Revolver album in 2022 and was later employed for “Now and Then.”
The recording was overseen by Sir Paul McCartney, and additional backing vocals from the original recordings of Beatles classics were incorporated.
A Meaningful Collaboration
Sean Ono Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shared his thoughts on the track, describing it as a “time capsule.”
He expressed how touching it was to hear the band members working together, considering the many years that had passed since his father’s absence.
He called it the last song created by his dad, Paul, George, and Ringo, emphasizing the special nature of the track.
Upcoming Compilations and Music Video
On November 10, two compilation albums, “1962-1966, The Red Album” and “1967-1970, The Blue Album,” will be re-released with 21 newly added tracks.
Additionally, Peter Jackson’s music video for “Now and Then” is set to debut soon, offering fans a visual interpretation of the song’s journey.
Listening to “Now and Then”
For those eager to experience “Now and Then,” the recording is available on various streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.
This final song from The Beatles serves as a captivating glimpse into the enduring legacy of the iconic band.