On "Now and Then"

In 1994 and 1995 Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr got together at McCartney’s Sussex farmhouse studio and worked on three demo tapes given McCartney by Yoko Ono, to take demos done by John Lennon in the late 1970s and 1980 and turn them into finished Beatles songs. Two songs, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” were finished and released in 1995 and 1996. The third song, “Now and Then,” was abandoned and never finished.

I’ve heard Lennon’s demo for “Now and Then.” I have it on CD, thanks to the wonders of bootlegs. It’s not a great song. I don’t even think it’s potentially great. There’s an atonal quality to the song, there’s no memorable lyric. Maybe that was the appeal to McCartney, Harrison, and Starr–that “Now and Then” would have given them an opportunity to work magic.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. As I mentioned, the work on “Now and Then” was abandoned. The Lennon demo had a persistent hum that would have proved difficult to remove from the one-track tape.

Now, McCartney speaks briefly about the work done on “Now and Then” and his regrets at leaving the song incomplete and unfinished.

Personally, I think leaving “Now and Then” unfinished was for the best. I like the two completed reunion songs–“Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” “Free as a Bird” grows on you, and “Real Love” is well-nigh perfect. “Now and Then” would have been just a little bit more, but my Beatles experience is complete without it. As much as I, or any Beatles fan, would love to have more Beatles music, I’m happy with what we have. 🙂

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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