The Middle East is in flames, the Ukraine War is stalemated to Putin’s advantage, a Protestant Nationalist Theocrat Election Denier has been elected Speaker of the U.S. House, and Donald Trump is positioned to return in triumph to the White House. If now is not the time for some much needed nostalgia for a happier and more hopeful time, then when? And just in time, through the marvels of incomprehensible modern technology, the Beatles have just recorded their last song!
Well, not exactly, of course. Now and Then started out as a 1970s John Lennon solo, hidden away on a cassette which his widow later donated for a Beatles retrospective. Nothing came of it then, but Paul McCartney remembered it. Thanks to contemporary technology, the sound was restored to true vintage Lennon. To this Paul and Ringo made their contributions, and with the addition of sound from the late George Harrison, another – presumably final – Beatles song has been created.
I wouldn’t classify it as the best of the Beatles’ amazing repertoire, but it is very definitely and distinctly their sound – a sound that meant so much to my generation and still continues to resonate decades later, superior to most subsequent sounds. It transports us back to a better and more hopeful time, when the world still seemed to hold the promise of the prosperous uplifting period that followed World War II, what the French call Les Trente Glorieuses (the glorious 30 years).
It also reminds us of the amazing personalities the Beatles were – in particular the stars John and Paul and their long, loving, and conflicted relationship. According to Beatles producer George Martin’s son, Giles, Paul wanted to finish this song because, Martin feels, Now and Then « I love letter to Paul written by John. » If so, what a tremendous testimony to the ongoing and sustaining power of human friendship amid competition and rivalry!
Whatever the motivations behind its production and however dubious in the long-term the problematic technology that has made it possible, Now and Then is a joy and a gift to this our present troubled time for a lost but better world.
tOne can access the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW55J2zE3N4