Now and Then

The Beatles have set a record 54-year gap between UK number one singles with “Now and Then”, the third and final John Lennon demo they’ve completed as a band.

As a lifelong Fabs fan, I of course listened to it within moments of its release. It sounded pleasant enough at first, although perhaps a little underwhelming. But it got better every time I listened to it, especially after watching the video. The original demo sounds like a demo: haunting, certainly, given what came after, but it goes on a bit and fizzles out at the end (anyone listened to Menlove Avenue lately?). The 2023 version is a proper Beatles song, with some interesting additional touches—the ending, in particular, is the opposite of fizzling out. It’s the track that should have featured on Anthology 3 back in the Nineties, and the problems people have with it now are pretty much the same criticisms we heard back then about the “Threetles”, with a dash of AI-freakout in the mix. Just as I was glad to hear “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love” back then, I’m glad that Paul and Ringo have got it into our lives; it’s a fitting sign-off for their band and homage to their departed friends.

For a proper AI freakout, here’s a 1964 version (and the AI-free original cover) and a 1967 version.

How Yoko Ono and a dedicated temp helped save Beatles fixer Mal Evans’s memoirs from a skip.

Giles Martin on “Now and Then” and remixing the Red and Blue albums. The remixed Red album in particular, with its early 1960s mono tracks turned into properly mixed stereo, is a revelation.

20 November 2023 · Music