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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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A Pensive Conclusion | “Now and Then” by The Beatles

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My love for music began in my dad’s old blue car. My family would all be cramped in that tiny car for hours as we drove up north for vacations. Each trip was always accompanied by a strictly Beatles’ soundtrack. We’d listen through all of their greatest hits as we sped past pine tree forests and lakeside towns. Even outside of those memorable trips during the summer, I’d hear the Beatles in the house coming from my dad’s computer at night as he surfed on Youtube looking for concert performances or faithful covers. My twin sister and I would be lulled to sleep by the wistful notes of “Julia” or the playful rhythm in “Blackbird” resonating throughout the house when my dad decided to pick up his guitar and play a few familiar tunes. 

I was surprised, to say the least, when I saw that the Beatles had released a new recording of “Now and Then” on Nov. 2, 2023. The last bit of new material that the band had released was in 1996 with “Real Love” — another post-breakup, John Lennon home demo like “Now and Then,” appearing on the 2nd volume of their retrospective Anthology series. Originally, the remaining members of the band wanted to incorporate “Now and Then” on Anthology 3, but dismissed the idea because the demo was too muddled to incorporate in a new recording. Twenty-seven years later, Lennon’s voice was able to be extracted from the original tape with AI. Overdubbed backing vocals were taken from other Beatles’ songs as well as performed by Paul McCartney himself. George Harrison’s guitar track from the previous attempt to produce the song survives within this new recording, as well as McCartney’s Harrison-esque guitar flourishes. McCartney and Ringo Starr fill out their bass and drum parts, respectively. It’s finished up with an added orchestral backing, and a new Beatles’ song in 2023 is born.

Thematically, the song coincides wonderfully with the conclusion of the Beatles’ song-writing career, exuding a more contemplative and reflective mood rather than an excited and celebratory one. The primarily minor key that the instrumentals follow, slower tempo and somber vocals all lend themselves to the melancholic sonic space that the lyrics further express. Calling for someone to come back who once was lost, Lennon sings: 

“Now and then /

I miss you /

Oh, now and then /

I want you to be there for me /

Always to return to me.”

There’s a nostalgic feeling accompanying the song; it stirs up memories of the impact that the Beatles left in popular culture as a whole.  The music video accompanying the song reinforces that, with images and videos taken throughout their career overlapping one another. A young Lennon and Harrison play alongside Starr and McCartney as if they were all together in the same room performing the song together. Younger versions of each member play alongside their wizened selfs, denoting the change they have gone through over time. The video ends with a closing shot of the Beatles’ seminal debut performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, their first in front of an American audience and one that my father still remembers witnessing around the TV set when he was only 4-years-old. 

This is the last ripple in the water the Beatles will make — at least with all four of their personalities present. “Now and Then” is about the memory of the Beatles, coalescing the voices of each member throughout time to celebrate what their music means to anyone who has tuned in.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Beylerian
Ryan Beylerian, Writer
Ryan Beylerian (he/him) is a junior at MSU studying English and Graphic Design. He spent the last two years taking art classes in community college and listening to a lot of different music. He’s open to listening to any kind of music, as long as it’s good! Some of his favorite acts include The Sundays, Kate Bush, The Cranberries, The Smiths and The Smashing Pumpkins. “Ma meeshka mow skwoz.” - Mr. Bungle

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