George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr in Now and Then: The Last Beatles Song

The Beatles’ New Song Packs a Heavy Emotional Punch

It’s strange to think about a new song by The Beatles coming out in 2023 but that’s what happened. Created using machine learning to finish the track, the song was completed after years of the band trying to add it to the collection of their work. What I wasn’t expecting was to add a Beatles song to my world without having my father there to hear it.

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As someone who grew up on the Beatles thanks to my father’s deep love for the band, my connection to their music is intrinsically linked to my memories of my father. We used to drive home from my acting classes as a kid blasting “Two of Us” from Let It Be as we were driving up the 5 freeway and would sing “We’re on our way home” together. I have “two of us riding nowhere” tattooed on my arm for him.

I thought, surely the only band I would never have to experience the release of new music from on my own would be The Beatles. This new song, titled “Now and Then,” really hurts to listen to without him, especially with lyrics like “Now and then, I miss you. Now and then, I want you to be there for me.” I know that it couldn’t have been easy for Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr to have sung without George Harrison and John Lennon, and it’s not easy to listen to having experienced my own loss.

Based on a demo by Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison worked on the song during The Beatles Anthology project back in 1995 but it was never finished. With Harrison’s death in 2001, the song stayed where it was. Until now.

As explained in the short film Now and Then: The Last Beatles Song, new technology was used to help separate Lennon’s voice from the tape recording that Yoko Ono gave to the remaining Beatles back in 1995. At the time, they couldn’t separate Lennon’s voice from the piano, so it took waiting until 2023 to be able to use new tools to bring “Now and Then” to life.

The holding power of The Beatles

George Harrison working on Now and Then

When I watched The Beatles: Get Back, it was right after my dad passed. I didn’t really have a choice, that’s just when the film happened to debut. In some ways, it was cathartic to live in this space with a band that meant so much to us both when I didn’t have my dad to talk to about it. Now, as we’re coming up on the second anniversary of his passing, seeing this song released unleashes an odd mix of emotions, including a lot of pain and loss. I know I am not alone in this. For so many, the music of the Beatles is a family affair.

Passed on through generations, many of us have spent our whole lives singing Beatles songs. My bathtime music was “Rocky Raccoon” and “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” before I aged into “Blackbird.” As I grew, my dad would gravitate toward songs he said reminded him of me, like “Here Comes the Sun” and eventually “Two of Us.”

This new song is all about missing someone and wishing they were there. “Now and Then” is emotional, raw, and one then I think I’ll cherish for a long time. Even if I have to cope with the knowledge that my dad will never get to hear the last song from his favorite band.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.