On October 26, 2023, Beatles fans around the world were exuberant. A very special announcement shocked the world: a new Beatles song would be released on November 2, featuring all four of its members. At first, this obviously raised some confusion. How could all four of the Beatles be featured in the song when only two of them were still alive? Regardless, fans counted the days until the release, pulling out their old vinyl and record players to emerge themselves in a time when a Beatles release was commonplace. When November 2nd arrived, both young and old listeners around the world were struck with the most heartbreaking and devastating lyrics that accompanied an even sadder meaning.
The song “Now and Then” was merely a thought when John Lennon recorded it by himself in the late 1970s. Although he had big plans for it, his sudden assassination cut those aspirations short. The song was later found by his widow, Yoko Ono, who had given it in the form of a cassette tape to the remaining band members. In the late 1990s, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr were eager to get a piece of their beloved friend back and decided to attempt to fix the song up and release it. McCartney added the bass and background vocals, Starr added his drums, and Harrison added his signature guitar skills to it, but to no avail. At the end of their efforts, they realized that all their instruments drowned out Lennon’s voice, and the song became an unachievable dream. After George Harrison’s passing in 2001, any remaining hopes of releasing this lost song were diminished. Years passed, and McCartney and Starr got to witness the powerful AI technology that was rapidly evolving. In 2022, Peter Jackson, a film director and screenwriter from New Zealand, was able to separate Lennon’s vocals from the piano in the background. That way, he could make Lennon’s voice louder without making the rest of the instruments louder. Now, it was possible for The Beatles to have one last song together, serving as a tribute to both Lennon and Harrison. Using Lennon’s vocals and Harrison's guitar solo, the fab four were finally together again.
The lyrics to the song are what made it so heartbreaking to listen to. Using this new technology, McCartney and Lennon were able to sing the following lines together:
Now and then,
I miss you.
Oh now, and then,
I want you to be there for me.
The contrast between Lennon’s eternally young voice and McCartney’s significantly older voice is both beautiful and haunting. It tells a story that is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. As a younger Beatles fan, Now and Then allowed me to witness what it was like to be alive for a Beatles release. I always felt like I was born in the wrong generation and that I would have done anything to feel the excitement and nervousness as I waited to listen to a new Beatles song. Now, that has finally happened to me, and I could not be more grateful.
Chloe Beal is a BBG living in Rye Brook, New York. In her free time, she enjoys doing Model UN with her school.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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