When Paul McCartney announced that he was working on a demo left by John Lennon, Beatles lovers were stunned. And this increased when it was confirmed that he had used artificial intelligence to complete it. In reality, Now and Then was given by Yoko Ono to the three surviving Beatles in 1994, along with two other titles, Free as a Bird and Real Love. If the latter two had been published respectively in 1995 and 1996, after the addition of instrumental and vocal parts of the other three, Now and Then had been abandoned after several work sessions, due to the poor quality of the original recording, made at the Dakota Building by Lennon alone on piano.
It was necessary to apply the technology used by director Peter Jackson on the new edit of the film Get Back, in 2021, for the title to be started again. The guitar parts left by George Harrison, who died in 2001, were retained, but Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr played new bass and drum parts. And a string arrangement was added.
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The melancholy ballad of John Lennon is very much in the style of the musician, who died in 1980. Although he had abandoned public life to devote himself to the education of his second son, Sean, born in 1975, the composer continued to write new piano songs. On the track released worldwide on Thursday, the voice of the late Beatle finally sounds in all its clarity, making the title less mournful than on the original demo, available on YouTube.
Much more than on Free as a Bird, Lennon seems to speak directly to the listener with his characteristic voice, imbued with a very touching melancholy. The guitar chorus was played by McCartney in the slide style dear to George Harrison, although less well than the latter. The multi-instrumentalist is everywhere on the song, the strings were arranged by Giles Martin, son of the historic producer of the Fab Four.
For McCartney, 81, the stakes are high: releasing the very last song on which the four original members of the group play. If he has a tendency, since the death of George, to think he is the Beatles alone, Paul is forced to recognize that by using text and music from his enemy brother, he leaves the last word to Lennon . Very competitive, the latter would have been amused by this bittersweet irony. Although he has not been alive for almost 43 years, his shadow continues to hang very high over the Beatles in particular, and pop in general. And the song, very moving, constitutes a very worthy coda to the destiny of the greatest pop group of all time.