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Now and Then

Beatles add new song to a 60 year old discography
Spreadsheet of the covers of Beatles singles.

Earlier this month, The Beatles released their last song “Now and Then.” It immediately debuted at number one at the Billboard charts.


The Beatles were a band that lasted from 1960 to 1970, and in those ten years they changed music forever, with albums such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road.”


In 1970, The Beatles broke up, and for the next ten years fans wanted for a reunion, which never happened, as in 1980 the lead member John Lennon was shot and killed. 


In 1995, the three main Beatles were working on the “Anthology” albums which consisted of unreleased and alternate versions of songs. For the three albums, The Beatles decided to take three demos from John Lennon, and play with the demo to make it a Beatles song. 


After completing two songs in 1995, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” the remaining Beatles wanted to complete a third and final song, “Now and Then.” 


However, due to the bad quality of the demo tape, they were unable to release it as a Beatles song, and any hope of The Beatles returning to it were squashed when member George Harrison passed away in 2001. 


The reason they were unable to do “Now and Then” was because since it was recorded on a cassette tape, they were unable to separate Lennon’s vocals from the piano, which made it impossible to mix the song. However, with the rise of AI, remaining members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were able to finish the song almost thirty years after starting work on the song. 


While working on the 2021 documentary series “Get Back,” which showed The Beatles working on their final album “Let it Be,” Peter Jackson and his team worked to create AI that could separate vocals from instrumentation. 


With the knowledge of the technology being used, the two remaining Beatles sent the original cassette tape of “Now and Then” to Jackson and his team, to see what they could do with it.


As McCartney says in the documentary, “Now and Then – The Last Beatles Song,” “a few seconds later or however long it took, and there it was: John’s voice. Crystal clear.”


Now that they were able to separate the vocals and the piano, McCartney and Starr got to work finishing the song. 


McCartney recorded a new bass section, while Starr recorded a new drum section. As for Harrison, they had to take his section he had recorded for the song in the nineties.


After a string section was recorded, the song was mixed, and released. 


But what did fans think of it? Most Beatles fans loved the song, and it immediately went to number one on the Billboard charts. As of November 2023, the music video for the song sits at over thirty-three million views on Youtube, with over one million likes. However, some fans aren’t happy with the technology used.


Some fans don’t like the idea that AI was used on a Beatles song, worrying that Lennon’s vocals were fake. However, AI was only used to separate the vocals from the instruments, and the vocals were not faked. 


While most Beatle fans are happy with the song, there are some people who don’t understand the hype, and are wondering why The Beatles are as big as they are. To understand why the release of “Now and Then” is such a big idea, we must take a look at their history.


The Beatles formed in 1960 out of a previous band, The Quarrymen. When guitar player John Lennon, bass player Paul McCartney, and guitar player George Harrison left the Quarrymen, they formed “The Beatles” with drummer Pete Best. 


For the next two years they played in clubs in Hamburg, Germany with minor success. However, the only records they got on at the time were as a back-up group for artist Tony Sheridan, with which they did eight songs, six with Sheridan, and two by themselves. 


After returning to England, The Beatles became a frequent band at “The Cavern Club.” It was there where they were discovered by future manager Brian Epstein. 

Inside fold of the record “The Decca Tapes.” Image on left (from left to right): John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Pete Best. Image on right (from left to right): Pete Best, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon

After getting The Beatles auditions for multiple recording studios, they were all turned down. However, Epstein was able to get an audition for EMI studios, in which Producer George Martin agreed to sign a contract with The Beatles. 


While most bands played songs written by writers, The Beatles, inspired by 1950’s rock and roll artist Buddy Holly, started writing their own songs, as Holly had before them. 


While recording their first song to be released, “Love Me Do,” Martin found that Best’s drumming was not up to par, so they replaced him with another drummer The Beatles had been friends with, Ringo Starr. 


After their first single was released, it got moderate success, however The Beatles got more and more fame in the U.K. with more releases. However, they were not getting any hit singles in the U.S. 


By the end of 1963, they had released their first two albums, “Please Please Me” and “With The Beatles,” along with a list of successful singles, such as “Please Please Me,” “From Me to You,” and “She Loves You.”


Vinyl record of their first U.K. album “Please Please Me.” From left to right: Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon. (Angus McBean)

In February 1964, The Beatles traveled to the U.S. and played on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Their performance was viewed by 73 million people and introduced The Beatles to most American viewers. It was then when their fame in the U.S. started to grow. With the success of the hit single “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” The Beatles were rising into the charts. 

Cd soundtrack album to “A Hard Day’s Night.” From top, left to right: Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. From bottom, left to right: George Harrison and Ringo Starr. (Robert Freeman)

United Artist saw the attention The Beatles were getting and signed them on to a 3 movie deal. Their first movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” became a big hit and featured many hit songs, such as the title song, “I Should Have Known Better,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”


From 1964 to 1965, The Beatles continued to release hit songs, such as “I Feel Fine” and “Eight Days a Week.” Along with that was the release of their second movie “Help!” 

Inside fold to the Cd of the “Help” soundtrack album, feature a collection of photos.

The Beatles, who had started experimenting with drugs, started to make music that was less about love, and more psychedelic. Combined with them quitting touring after getting protests due to Lennon saying that the band was “more popular than Jesus,” they were now allowed to make their records more psychedelic, due to not having to be forced to play the songs live. 


The Beatles, now with free-will to make what they want, made their game-changing album “Revolver,” with such songs as “I’m Only Sleeping” with its backwards guitar solo, and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which was half-song and half-sound collage. 

Cd of the U.S. album “Yesterday… and Today.” The album features the infamous “Butcher Cover,” which shows The Beatles in butcher suits covered in baby doll parts and meat. From left to right: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. (Robert Whitaker)



The following year The Beatles followed it up with the even more influential “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The album is still regarded by many as one of their best albums. 


However, shortly after the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s,” The Beatles manager Brian Epstien died of a drug overdose. 


Without Epstein guiding their ship, McCartney decided to take the lead role for their next movie, “Magical Mystery Tour.”


While the music was considered top notch, the movie was considered their first flop.


After the flop of “Magical Mystery Tour,” The Beatles traveled to India in February 1968 to study meditation. It was there where they got most of their inspiration for their next album.


While working on their next album, a self-titled double album dubbed “the white album” due to its white cover, The Beatles’ relationships were strained, with most of The Beatles working by themself. 


While working on what most fans saw as their best work, The Beatles’ relationship got worse and worse, and after the Get Back project, which led to a rooftop concert, an album and a movie both titled “Let it Be,” the Beatles started their final project, “Abbey Road.”


In 1970, after the release of “Abbey Road,” The Beatles broke up to do solo work. 


Now that we know the history of The Beatles, why are they considered the most influential band of all time? Well it’s because they changed the music scene. Before them, songs were only about love and almost no one wrote their own songs. However they wrote songs about Yellow Submarines and fictional characters, such as Eleanor Rigby. That is why the release of “Now and Then” is important.  


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