Just over 60 years ago, The Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do,” launching them into an unforgettable whirlwind of a career. Even today, they’re still widely considered to be the best — or at least, the most popular — band of all time. Now, more than half a century later and despite half of the band members having passed away, The Beatles have come together — no pun intended — to release one last song, “Now and Then,” on Nov. 2. And, get this: it includes all four members, living and dead.
Now, you may be wondering: how does a song that was released last week include the vocals of John Lennon, who died over 40 years ago? The answer to that is artificial intelligence, or AI. The vocals of “Now and Then” come from a demo track of Lennon’s from the 1970s, and were extracted and isolated using AI. A similar process was used to obtain George Harrison’s guitar tracks from an abandoned Beatles studio session, which are also featured in “Now and Then.”
Crazy backstory aside, the song itself is quite good. The lyrics are simple yet emotional, and include lines like “Now and then / I miss you / Oh now and then / I want you to be there for me” feel quite relevant to The Beatles’ legacy yet still maintain the tone of the sad love song Lennon originally wrote. Piano, strings, guitar, and a new drum track by Ringo Starr are combined to create a beautiful instrumental to accompany the words. Paul McCartney harmonizes with the original vocals, and a slide guitar solo is added over the bridge as a tribute to Harrison. The bridge would have to be my favorite part of the song, as it doesn’t just include this wonderful solo but also incorporates backing vocals from classic Beatles tracks like “Eleanor Rigby.”
Although it’s not perfect, “Now and Then” is as good as it can be. Coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of The Beatles, the song is put together nicely and does a great job of incorporating contributions from all four members. It sounds like a true Beatles song. While the song has received quite mixed reactions from the media, I personally think the release of “Now and Then” was a great decision that will provide Beatles fans not only with a beautiful new song, but also a satisfying sense of closure.