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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Now and Then’ brings The Beatles back together

A new song by The Beatles, something people born in the 21st century thought they would never get in their lifetime, was released Nov. 2.

To most people, a new Beatles song releasing in 2023 seemed like an impossibility after the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison in 1980 and 2001, respectively. Not only this, but The Beatles broke up over 53 years ago in 1970.

So it was a surprise to many when The Beatles’ social media accounts posted a cryptic video of a cassette tape with no audio Oct. 25, teasing a new release. The release was revealed to be “Now and Then,” a song recorded by Lennon as a rough home demo in 1977.

The three remaining Beatles worked on the song in the ’90s for The Beatles Anthology Series, a three-volume set of compilation albums spanning the Beatles’ career. During this time, the members attempted to resurrect “Now and Then,” as well as two other Lennon demos called “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” 

While the latter two songs made it onto the Anthology project, “Now and Then” was deemed in too rough shape to continue working on and was shelved until technology had advanced enough to complete it.

Earlier this year, Beatles affiliate Peter Jackson was able to use AI vocal separation technology to clean up the song’s demo enough for living members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to add on new parts and finally complete the track.

On Nov. 2, that song debuted at 10 a.m. EDT across the world, becoming the first time many fans would experience a release by the band.

“I was very excited that a Beatles song was releasing within my lifetime. It honestly felt surreal, like I was living a moment of music history,” said Miguel Bautista Ollivier, a Suffolk University student who had waited to listen to the song with his roommate the afternoon of the release. 

Much of the response to the song seems to be in that same category, with fans overjoyed about the fact that they get any new Beatles music at all, despite some who understandably wish the other Beatles had been alive to contribute more to the track.

“I thought it sounded better than I imagined,” said David Gallant, professor for a freshman seminar class called “The Beatles: Here, There, and Everywhere” at Suffolk.

Gallant said he could easily picture the song fitting into The Beatles discography, comparing it to latter-year compositions by the band.

“It sounds like something that they could’ve been working on in 1970. It certainly would not have felt out of place if it was on the ‘Let It Be’ album,” said Gallant.

The song features the vocals of Lennon from the original demo, guitar from Harrison recorded in the ‘90s, new bass and drums by McCartney and Starr, as well as a string section meant to evoke Beatles compositions like “Eleanor Rigby” and a slide guitar solo by McCartney in a style similar to what Harrison was so famous for.

“I think the lyrics are very touching, especially given the context of how the song was made. It seems like they each wanted to pay homage to each other and I’m glad they were able to in this song,” says Bautista Ollivier. “The use of strings was also wonderful and really contributed to giving it that Beatles feel.”

While the song is being celebrated as a welcome and nostalgic return to The Beatles sound, we most likely won’t see any other “new” music from them, as this song is billed as the group’s last.

“I was surprised that there was something else that had been kept under wraps,” said Gallant.

Knowing there isn’t a lot of other material left to share, Gallant believes that “if they’re saying that it’s the last then probably it’s the last.”

While The Beatles may not have more new music to share, we can most likely expect updates and re-releases of their music for the foreseeable future. “Now and Then” is to be included as part of the reissued “Red” and “Blue” Beatles compilation albums, alongside some of their most popular tracks from across their entire career.The song is out on all streaming platforms, with physical releases on vinyl, CD and cassette also offered. A music video for the song can also be found on YouTube.

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