The Beatles Last Song: Now and Then
Endings are always hard to swallow
As Beatle George Harrison once sang, "All Things Must Pass". And so it is, the final and last Beatle song, Now and Then, hit the radio airwaves and music downloads at Apple (yes, Apple Records and Apple Inc.). As if history repeats itself, the song was #1 in downloads for a time. What else would you expect from a rock band that still today in 2023 holds so many records in hits and sales? You may not like them, you may think they are not that great and for another generation, but you are in the minority.
Now and Then is an embarrassing sort of confessional from John, who wrote 95% of it back in 1977 or so. No wonder he put it on a cassette tape and then wrote, "For Paul", and forgot about it. Some might say its a beautiful love song directed towards Paul confessing that if it were not for him, the Beatles might not have been so famous or well-known long after 1969 when they broke up. John was looking back in 1977, and faced the fact that Paul was the main force driving innovation and themes back in 1966-69. Starting with Revolver LP, the Beatles were guided by Paul, with John's approval. After Revolver, it was all Paul: Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt, Pepper, Get Back, Abbey Road. That is not say that John and the others were not major factors in the success, but Paul was the guy that motivated them to push on and on.
Now and Then is yet another beautiful melody from John. It does linger in your mind after hearing it-the signature of all Beatle songs! It has been around for many years in its raw form. When I first heard it, I knew it was hit record. But for some reason, Paul cut out the middle section where John sings, "I don't want to lose you" in falsetto sounding like a Marvin Gaye. It is a great break to the main Now and Then chorus. My guess is that it was omitted because most would think John is talking to Yoko, his wife. True or not, the lyrics have a doble meaning as John might have been thinking about Paul, who knows? I am sure someone will ask Paul.
Many call it AI manufactured in John's voice. I don't think so. That is John singing but AI was used to isolate it from the piano, which on the original tape, made his voice murky and the lyrics were hard to understand. The rest of the song is pure Beatle-Ringo on the drums, Paul on the bass, lead guitar was George from the 1995 sessions, when they first tried to do the song. Back then, George thought the song was "shit", but I think George did not want to work on a song devoted to Paul.
The Get Back sessions show that there was John and Paul and THEN George. I don't think George ever accepted that he simply was not as good as a songwriter as John and Paul. Also, George was a little jealous of the Lennon-McCartney relationship, even though it was Paul that got George into the band! But, then, there was the admission in the Get Back Sessions from both John and Paul that they treated George unfairly with regards to his songs.
All that is history. Now and Then is a Beatle song where Paul added a verse to complete the lyrics. One could hear this on one of their later LPs, maybe Let It Be or Abby Road. As usual, Paul's voice improves the song like he did so many times before, it was that Lennon-McCartney harmony just at the right moment.
Some will argue that John would never have approved of the song being released, or it is a "Lennon and friends" recording, That is pure conjecture, John and Paul last were together in 1974 or so, in L.A, during a recording session. Paul made a surprise visit to the studio in a very "high" state. Upon his entrance, John greeted as old friend and the other musicians wanted to jam. John is heard trying to finish song they had been working on. But that was not to be. The jam session was recorded and it ended up being a total mess as John and Paul simply enjoyed each other's company- just like way back during their days at the German bar clubs.