In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, something amazing has occurred. The Beatles have been reunited.
Well, technically, it happened back in the ‘90s when Paul, George, and Ringo worked on three of John’s demos, recorded on a cassette tape before he died. Two of them, “Real Love” and “Free as a Bird,” were included on the Anthology albums. The third, too rough in its original format, remained unfinished—until now.
Something called “machine-learning technology” allowed Paul and Ringo, and Giles Martin, the son of their famed producer, the late George Martin, to complete the song. John’s vocal was separated from all the audible distractions on the cassette. It’s pristine, like he was in the studio with his bandmates again.
This, combined with George Harrison’s guitar tracks from the ‘90s, made it official. With the release of “Now and Then,” the Fab Four are back! And they’ve broken the Top 10 with their newest contribution to music history.
It was a flight of fancy for every devoted Beatle fan like me after the devastation of the group’s break-up in 1970. Maybe they’ll get back together.Alas, it was never to be. When John Lennon was killed, the dream died along with him, but not the songs.
The brilliant, matchless catalogue of tunes that Michael Jackson paid $47.5 million to own on Aug. 15, 1985—the stuff that transformed rock and roll—has transcended the generations. Paul owns the catalogue now. That’s poetic justice.
I’ve long loved the music. But for me, and I assume every other Beatle nut like me, the songs transcend the here and now. They are the stepping-stones of my life. That’s why the title of this new tune, Now and Then, is perfect. It harkens to an era that will be remembered by historians after we’re all gone.
Now and then, I flash back to the seminal moment on TV—the night of Feb. 9, 1964. As a thirteen-year-old, I understood something important was happening. Gathered around the television set, we tuned in to the Ed Sullivan Show along with 73 million people, as The Beatles blew the socks off the American music scene. Soon after, I got serious about learning the guitar and have been playing Beatle songs ever since.
Now and then, I remember the parties in our den. Dancing close with Marilyn and Vicki and Janet (and other girls) to “You Won’t See Me” from the Rubber Soul album. And the band practices in that same space, recreating songs like “Taxman” and “Eight Days A Week.”
Now and then, I recall driving Karen, my wife-to-be, from San Diego to LA to meet my family and closest buddies. With my Beatles tapes blaring, I sang the whole way home, wishing I too was a Beatle. Or at least could write songs like them.
Now and then, I flash back to 2002 at the Anaheim Pond, when Herschel, Doug, Karen, and I sat floor level, eighteen rows back from the stage. Paul emerged with his Hofner bass extended high in the air, and he and his amazing band launched a three-hour show with the song, “Hello, Goodbye.” What a performance. Karen and I traveled to Las Vegas to catch him again on that tour.
Now and then, I think about our stop in Liverpool to visit The Beatle sites. The barbershop made famous in “Penny Lane.” The gate to “Strawberry Fields.” Saint Peter’s Church, where John and Paul first met on a hot summer’s day in 1957, after Lennon’s group, The Quarry Men, played at a garden fair.
I’m not soon to forget these and other memories packed in my brain because of the sheer genius of The Beatles. They were magic then…and they still are now.
“There’s no outdoing The Beatles.” – Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys.