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The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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“Now And Then”: The Finale Of The Beatles

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Beatles have long been one of the most influential, talented, and relevant bands of the last century. With a career and legacy spanning sixty plus years, their work has forever changed the construct of music and has inspired many of the greatest rock and pop artists to have ever existed. 

Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Beach Boys, and many more have credited the likes of “The Fab Four” for contributing to their music. And the music and publications continue to spark inspiration to the modern artists of today. 

If it wasn’t for John, Paul, George, and Ringo, alternative and pop music as we know it today would not exist. 

After what seems like a lifetime of work, touring, and recording, most would think the legacy of The Beatles has come to an end. However, even after six decades, and after being out of the charts for many years, new material from all four members of The Beatles has just been released.

One may be confused as to what that means because John Lennon and George Harrison have been deceased for many years.

So, to really understand how their new song “Now And Then” came about, we have to travel to 1994. 

In 1994, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr reunited for the first time since their breakup in 1970 to record and remaster their music for the upcoming compilation. During the reunion, the possibility of a new Beatles song was talked about with all three of the remaining members showing propensity to the idea.

It was during that time McCartney had reached out to Yoko Ono in hopes she would have any archived unreleased tracks from the late John Lennon. And after an overview of the project, she was more than happy to comply with the request.

Ono had given them three tracks. Two were released on The Beatles Anthology record as “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love”

The problem came about when trying to record the third song “Now And Then,” which was a simple piano vocal piece.

McCartney had trouble isolating the vocals and piano into separate layers to work around the vocals for that technology did not exist. So, with a George Harrison guitar solo that never saw the light of day and three aggravated Beatles, the project was scrapped and Anthology was released.

However, twenty-seven years later, an interesting opportunity arose. 

Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson had announced that his nearly four-year restoration project about The Beatles titled “Get Back” would be released. 

Under the supervision of McCartney, Starr, and John Lennon’s estate, the three-part documentary was a success. 

Although, with the release of “Get Back,” an interesting thought came to McCartney. With the technology used to restore the fifty-seven hours of unseen Beatles footage, could the same technology be used to master and mix “Now And Then”?

McCartney had then sent the file of John’s demo to Jacksons’ editing team, and within a few minutes, John’s voice was isolated and remastered and the project was brought back to life. 

Ringo Starr was called and immediately thought the revival of the project was an amazing idea.

Both Beatles got to work laying down bass and drum tracks revolving around Lennon’s vocals to get a complete song with instrumentals, and the archived Harrison solo from 1994 was also embedded into the song. 

Later down the line, Giles Martin (son of long-time Beatles producer George Martin), composed and conducted an orchestral arrangement to accompany the song, as The Beatles have had heavily influenced orchestrated songs with tracks such as “Day In The Life”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “The Long And Winding Road”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and much more. However, the musicians were told their recordings would be used for a Paul McCartney song as the project was still secretive. 

With a normal recording process of layering, mixing, mastering, and instrumental overlays, what is known as “The Last Beatles Song” was released on November 2, 2023. 

With a very melancholy sound, and arranged in many minor keys the end result is perceived as a goodbye. After sixty years, twelve studio albums, five live albums, sixty-three singles, seventeen box sets, and a legacy that will forever carry the torch for the face of music, “Now And Then” is the final release to send off The Beatles.

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