What We Love and Learned About The Beatles “Now and Then”

When the documentary The Beatles: Get Back hit the streaming service Disney+ in 2021, a world of possibilities opened up along with it. Not just for fans to see the former Mop Tops making their iconic album, Get Back, but technology had allowed for a fuller picture of the band to be seen around the globe.

Videos by American Songwriter

Indeed, The Beatles—the four of them together in the studio, pictures matching up with voice recordings—were discoverable all over again. The film was thanks in part to the Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, who put the doc together.

Now, though, there is more to digest from the famed Liverpool, England-born band, comprised of names we all know: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. Of course, two of those members are no longer alive, with Lennon being murdered in 1980 and Harrison dying in 2001. But in the group’s newest offering, a single and accompanying music video for the track, “Now and Then,” the group lives together again as a foursome for one last time.

The Last Beatles Song

Though the band’s legacy continues to stretch through time today, the band was really only around for the entirety of the 1960s. In subsequent years, The Beatles’ four members enjoyed solo careers, sometimes even playing on each other’s records. But the band itself died after 1970. And after Lennon’s murder in 1980, there was obviously no hope of a real reunion.

But that hasn’t stopped some attempts at reliving and re-imagining the group’s sound and chemistry in works post-Lennon’s death. For instance, in the mid-90s, the band released two songs “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” based on unfinished demos from Lennon’s recordings given to the group by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, the year he was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

And while those songs were released and highlighted all over media outlets, another demo was shelved for later (largely because the sound quality wasn’t up to the band’s standards). That third shelved demo is what provided the foundation for the band’s new 2023 single, “Now and Then.” Though it was unfinished at the time, “Now and Then” was revived and fleshed out as the band’s “final song.”

“Now and Then”

The song, whose title, lyrics, and subsequent music video highlight the past and the present for the band, was completed more recently thanks to the efforts of McCartney and Starr, along with past overdubs and tracks previously recorded by Harrison. But the work started with the piano track and singing of the song left behind by Lennon.

The completed work was also aided by Artificial Intelligence and audio restoration technology that Jackson used for his 2021 documentary on the band. Jackson also directed the music video for the song. Since its release a little over a week ago, the song has garnered more than 25 million views on YouTube, alone.

It’s something Starr, McCartney, and the team could have easily let go by the wayside, but thankfully, they finished the work and it’s available now for listeners and fans forever.

What We Love

There is a lot to love about the new offering, of course. Specifically, it’s just nice to hear new work from the band. There are so many songs from The Beatles that remain part of the lexicon and zeitgeist that it seems impossible for there to be work from the group that has been unheard of. But obviously, there is and to be privy to that is gratifying for any fan of the Fab Four.

It’s also pleasant to see footage from the members in the music video—footage, too, that takes advantage of the song’s theme of then and now. In the video, we see contemporary footage of McCartney and Starr, the band’s two surviving members, as well as later-in-life footage from a long-haired grizzled Harrison.

Of course, there is also footage of Lennon, acting cheeky, holding a guitar. Footage of him as a young man and a bit older, before his death. The music video ends with images of the band from their early, early years in the dawn of the ’60s with their greaser hair and rudimentary rock looks. It’s adorable. It makes you feel young (again) to see it—to see the band in their nascent stages.


What we love ultimately about the song is what we love about the band. The four personalities have the ability to rise to the occasion and the resulting work that comes from their chemistry, volatile as it could be at times. While this is the last song, we wish it wasn’t.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

Correction: In a previous version we mistakenly titled the Beatles “Now and Then” song and “Then and Now” in the headline. A correction has been made.

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