ADRIAN THRILLS: The Beatles' 'last song' Now And Then is an emotional, human ... trends now
THE BEATLES: Now And Then (Apple)
Verdict: Emotional swansong
A sequence of five plangent piano chords, the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, the crystal-clear voice of John Lennon and the most eagerly anticipated record of the year is upon us. Now And Then, made with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), is being billed as ‘the last Beatles song’ – the final dispatch from John, Paul, George and Ringo, the four mop-haired lads from Liverpool who shook the world.
Created by extricating Lennon’s voice from an old demo that has languished in the vaults for decades, it’s a landmark pop moment. A reflective, romantic ballad, it opens in melancholy fashion, dominated by minor chords, before the mood is lifted by an upbeat chorus. ‘Now and then, if we must start again / Well, we know for sure that I will love you,’ sings John. His voice is unmistakable, and it’s wonderful to hear it again after so many years.
There are plenty of other familiar sounds here, with strings in the tradition of their 1967 track I Am The Walrus and a Paul McCartney slide-guitar solo featuring long, swooning notes in tribute to George Harrison. But it’s the point when drummer Ringo Starr ups the tempo just past the minute mark that Now And Then is transformed from what could have been a souped-up Lennon solo offering into a fully-fledged Fab Four song.
The bar for a ‘new’ Beatles number is impossibly high. If we’re going to judge Now And Then by the standards of Hey Jude, Strawberry Fields Forever or Harrison’s Something – a ballad from 1969’s Abbey Road that Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song in 50 years – it’s going to be found wanting. But it’s a track that’s going to steadily worm its way into the nation’s affections over the coming weeks.
Now And Then was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited
The band are releasing the track, Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before it was unearthed by his wife in the Nineties (pictured)
The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon 's death (Paul McCartney pictured in the 1990s)
So, is it really a new single, or simply a computer-generated Franken-song made for Beatles obsessives? Given the presence of AI, can we now expect to hear Eleanor Robot or With A Little Help From My Algorithms? Some will feel there’s something wrong in messing with the legacy of these four national treasures. After all, The Beatles went their separate ways over five decades ago, and two of the band members are no longer with us.
But Now And Then feels like an authentic Beatles track. Lennon, who was murdered in 1980, and