The Beatles "Now And Then"
Songwriting analysis. Well that wasn't what I'd expected
I guess It is sorta a fantasy that we've all had over the years. The idea that somebody will stumble across some old Beatles cassette tape. I know when I first realized I had finally heard everything from The Beatles catalogue I was surprised. There was just so much how could there not be more? After all The Beatles were THE band. Somebody had to have something sitting around in a drawer or shoebox somewhere and the possibility of one day finding something else is something I'd hope to experience within my lifetime.
"Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" from the Anthology days happened just a few years before my time. Certainly before I was old enough to have experienced them entirely. I never thought I would live to experience a new Beatles release. Even just saying "Hey have you heard the new Beatles song?" sounds like some kind of smart-ass joke. Being surrounded by Beatles fans this past weekend really made me finally listen critically to this track.
First off I must say I haven't been a fan of "Free as a Bird" or "Real Love" in the past. I think those are incredibly well-written songs. "Real Love" is probably in my top 50 songs of all time if I really thought about it. It's just that good of a song. But the anthology Beatles version? Absolutely not. I'm just not a fan of it really at all. I feel like too much was added and it took away from the sincere performance that John Lennon gave on the original tape. "Free as a Bird" does a little bit better for me. I actually really enjoy that version of the song. I still prefer the original recording but Paul's middle 8 addition is actually a pretty nice touch. Harrison's guitar solo is also very nice albeit simple.
So fast-forward 3 decades. We get another one in "Now and Then." I must say I was NOT eager to listen to this. I thought I was just going to hate it. I didn't want to spoil the fun for everybody else around me so I avoided listening to it for almost the whole week. It was only until I had to listen to it for a Beatles gig this weekend that I finally decided to give it the time of day. I figured if I hated it, at this point everybody has their opinion about it and I wouldn't be influencing other so much or influenced by them as much. I wanted to just hear it without all of the pressure of even forming an opinion. Weird I know, but I feel like social media just makes it so you have to form an opinion on every thing these days. The pressure of having to feel some way about something gets in the way of actually just enjoying a song lol.
"Now and then" is honestly a very nicely done song. I didn't want to feel this way to be honest. After hearing this Beatles tribute band in my area play it over the weekend and practicing it during the soundcheck, I've really come to enjoy it. The melody is so simple. Really not too much going on here. I love how Lennon holds out those minor 9th intervals though. It's such a haunting sound. The key change during the slide guitar part is really a nice touch as well. I feel like the song develops harmonically the same way an orchestral arrangement would. I think that says a lot considering Paul only had such a small addition to the song and I think he brought so much in that slide guitar solo. Do I think it's played like George Harrison would've played it? Not even close honestly. I think George Harrison was a more articulate slide guitarist than that, but I don't think sounding exactly like him is the point here.
If you haven't heard this song yet then give it a listen. Don't go into it with super high expectations. It's not a bad tune. It's worthy of The Beatles catalogue as a whole in my opinion. That's probably the thing that scared me the most about this release initially. People like my father who are the biggest Beatles fans in the world welcome this sorta thing with open arms. I am a little bit more frightened by it. My generation doesn't know the difference between a 2024 released Beatles song or an original Beatles song and decades from now the difference will be even less discernible. I think adding to The Beatles catalogue should be done with extreme care. Overall I'm very pleased with this track and it's been stuck in my head for the past week now. Go give it a listen!