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‘Now And Then’ Isn’t Supposed to Be a Beatles Classic

It is a common assumption that legendary bands stop releasing music after they have reached the apex of their legacies. Everything that goes up must come down, and that does not solely apply to gravity or parabolic curves, but also to the rise and fall of popular musical groups. However, the most recent song put out by the English rock band The Beatles doesn’t date all the way back to 1975; “Now And Then” was released just a couple of months ago — on Nov. 2.

A half-written song that had been etched onto a cassette, the piece was only finished years later by the remaining members of the band. The original demo, with only piano and vocals, was written and sung by member John Lennon right before he passed and was eventually completed by fellow members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr with the assistance of de-mixing software, a technology that separated the frequencies of Lennon’s voice from the background noise the outdated technology it was recorded on.

The song is an homage to the power and passion of this legendary band. With hits such as “Here Comes the Sun,” “Love Me Do,” and “Eleanor Rigby” in their roster, The Beatles is known for its music that ranged from powerful ballads to upbeat doo-wop bops to its more experimental, lucid pieces.

The Beatles, as my former voice teacher used to say, is the blueprint of all modern Western music as we know it today. The band was able to evolve the slow, jazzy ballads and barbershop quartets prominent in the 1950s into the emotionally and musically diverse songs that have come to define music in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Essentially, would we have been able to enjoy the modern hits of artists such as Pitbull if it weren’t for this influential British band?

Some critics have harshly rated the quality of the song, claiming that it does not carry the weight of an old-fashioned Beatles classic. But that’s the point — “Now and Then” isn’t supposed to be a classic. It’s a remembrance of who The Beatles represented at that moment in time; the song is a tribute to nostalgia and love.

The lyrics of the chorus drive this message home. “Now and then / I miss you,” they sing. “Oh, now and then / I want you to be there for me.” It answers a simple yet powerful question — why do we make or listen to music? It is not always with the intent of selling out stadiums or topping music charts, but rather to strengthen a connection between the artist and listener that may last only two or three minutes in real time, but still with the impact that carries on for a lifetime.

The existence of this song is more about the unbreakable bond between McCartney and Lennon than it is about the millions of their fans. It may not be the most popular at weddings or funerals, but it is a special song for those involved in its production. At its core, “Now And Then” is a message from one friend to another, restricted neither by time nor distance, but tied together by love.

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