The Beatles’ legacy lives on through their timeless music, with one of their final singles, “Now and Then,” standing as a testament to their enduring creativity and connection with fans. Beyond its catchy melodies and harmonious tunes, this song holds a profound significance, making it more exceptional than one might initially think.
At first glance, ‘Now and Then’ appears to be a simple love song, but its depth goes far beyond romantic themes.
In the 1970s, it might have resonated as a love song. Yet, in the present day, where devoted fans have kept The Beatles’ memory alive for over half a century since their breakup, the lyrics take on a new meaning. John Lennon’s voice seems to echo through the ages, expressing gratitude to the fans who have preserved their legacy.
Moreover, the song encapsulates the essence of The Beatles’ friendships and camaraderie, a theme that has been a focal point in modern portrayals of the band. The accompanying music video reinforces this idea, emphasizing the enduring bonds between John, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. This duality of interpretation adds depth to the song, making it relatable to anyone while carrying specific significance for both the band and their listeners.
Delving deeper into the song’s title, “Now and Then” takes on a metatextual quality.
The simplicity of the title belies its complexity, representing both the present moment (2023) and the nostalgic past, the glory years of The Beatles. The song seamlessly blends John’s signature dark lyrics, the gentle sentimentality characteristic of The Beatles’ best work, and an arrangement reminiscent of their classic hit, “I Am the Walrus.” What makes it particularly contemporary is the use of cutting-edge technology. In a 2023 interview posted on The Beatles’ YouTube channel, Paul McCartney revealed how a newly-developed machine was utilized to enhance John’s original demo, bridging the gap between the past and the present.
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The significance of “Now and Then” deepens further when considering the words of those closest to its creation. John’s son, Sean Ono Lennon, shared insights into the song’s completion, revealing how his father’s unfinished demos were passed on to the other Beatles
“[John] was always making demos… Mum had these handful of songs that my dad hadn’t finished. And she gave them to the other Beatles,” Sean explained.
Paul McCartney reflected on the decision to complete the song, expressing his certainty that John would have welcomed the idea.
“My dad would have loved that because he was never shy to experiment with recording technology,” Sean added, emphasizing the beauty of the endeavor.
In essence, The Beatles’ “Now and Then” stands as a grand finale for the band on multiple levels. Its multifaceted nature, intertwined with themes of love, gratitude, friendship, and the blending of past and present, makes it a masterpiece that continues to resonate with fans across generations. Even John’s son, Sean, recognized its beauty, reaffirming its status as a cherished gem in The Beatles’ illustrious discography. As listeners delve into its intricate layers, they discover a song that not only captures the essence of the band but also reflects the enduring spirit of their music—a spirit that lives on, now and then.