A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the ‘new’ Beatles’ single Now And Then. Since those who want to must have heard it, several times perhaps, here are some comments. Yes, sorry, so many have chipped in with stuff, so just ignore this. And if anything is factually wrong, please let me know.
Remember that it started as a sketch for a song recorded by Lennon is his flat (apartment). Some people have said that Lennon would have loved this record. Well, they don’t know that, he has been dead for so long, anymore than I do. His recording has noise and flaws, and perhaps if Lennon really had thought something about it he would have re-recorded it. Perhaps.
There are parts of the original song that are not used in the new version too, which some people are upset about.
Many people have judged it on its technical achievement. Fine, but in a couple of years time it will seem poor work and more sophisticated tools will be available. People will want to revisit it, just as they are wanting to re-do Real Love and Free As A Bird now. And it should still be judged as a song, a Beatles’ song.
Since people are talking about the technology, let us say a bit. McCartney has said John’s voice has not been altered, but it plainly has. Listening to it, I find it hard to recognise Lennon’s voice. McCartney’s sounds strange. His is not good these days, hey, he’s old, and his voice sounds manilpulated too.
The very nature of how Lennon’s voice was extracted means it must have been manipulated. The way I understand it, correct me if I’m wrong, is that the computer system ‘learns’ the voice, then reconstitutes it from the original track. It’s like a Star Trek transporter – a person’s constituent parts are analysed, the data is sent to, well, somewhere and the person is recreated.
Paul has said it’s The Beatles playing together again, one last time. Plainly this is not true. Ringo Starr recorded his part in the USA and sent it in as a file. Two of them are dead. The demo comes from 1977 (maybe) so it is not a new song in that sense. Maybe ‘new’ is stretching it a bit…
George Harrison’s contribution is not clear. It is said he recorded some guitar part for the original attempts and these were extracted and used, but they are just part of the mix, but that’s fine. Also, there’s a guitar solo, but it is not Harrison, rather Paul playing in the Harrison style. So if you see a review that says “Harrison’s great guitar solo”, it isn’t.
And the harmonies are lifted from elsewhere.
McCartney does the rest. He said he just missed playing with his bandmates, and maybe he did, or is it just a vanity project for him. He certainly doesn’t need the money.