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  #1  
Unread 11-04-2023, 10:27 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Now and Then

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Who has taken the time to watch and listen to The Beatles' Now and Then? Thoughts?

I will go out on a limb and say that, for the moment, I think it's the best song John Lennon has written. The chord progressions are mournful in a gorgeous way. But I like melancholy.
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  #2  
Unread 11-04-2023, 01:05 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
Who has taken the time to watch and listen to The Beatles' Now and Then? Thoughts?

I will go out on a limb and say that, for the moment, I think it's the best song John Lennon has written.
Even better than "Polythene Pam"?

I hope it's not ill-natured to bring up a comment from last year. I take your opinions seriously, and I'm still curious to know whether your praise of that Lennon song was facetious.

The new one seems pleasant and innocuous. Maybe it will grow on me.
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  #3  
Unread 11-04-2023, 04:34 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I just listened to it now. First impression? It was pretty, and I enjoyed the clips and images, but I actually stopped before the end because it was getting repetitive. Still, a solid song that I'm glad they delivered to us. The best that Lennon wrote? I can think of several that I would place several floors above it in the tower of song.
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Unread 11-04-2023, 04:50 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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It’s an ok Beatle’s song but nowhere near “My Life” and other songs from their great period. They did these pop songs well. To me McCartney wasn’t a rocker. His songs are more in the spirit of the Gershwins and other song writers from earlier in the century. He’s good but Lennon was the genius.

Is that a stand-in for Lennon? It creeped me out and I had to end it. The song is ok but I don’t like the video.
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Unread 11-04-2023, 10:20 PM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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Meh. I can appreciate it, and appreciate the effort made to restore a "lost" vocal, but it feels very much like a B-side to me (well, back when there were B-sides, rather). I'm also with John on the video, which I think was trying to tackle the theme a bit too literally, and comes across as cheesy, awkward, and indeed, perhaps a little creepy. Reappropriating old footage for new purposes rarely works out well.
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  #6  
Unread 11-05-2023, 12:47 PM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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I think it's a decent Beatles song and if it had been released at the time it was written it would deserve a place in the Beatles canon. I also thought the video was nicely done and the clips of Lennon playing the fool were touching.

But do we need another Beatles song? I dunno. Times have changed and it belongs to another time.

Watching it reminded me of the Eric Idle, Neil Innes parody, pre-fab 4 group "The Rutles" and "I must be in love"
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  #7  
Unread 11-07-2023, 07:23 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Originally Posted by Max Goodman View Post
Even better than "Polythene Pam"?

I hope it's not ill-natured to bring up a comment from last year. I take your opinions seriously, and I'm still curious to know whether your praise of that Lennon song was facetious.

The new one seems pleasant and innocuous. Maybe it will grow on me.

Facetious? I'm effusive on occasion, sometimes acerbic, sometimes arrogant — but facetious? What thread was that? If I did say Polythene Pam was Lennon’s best song I’ll eat my hat. Because there are many other songs I consider better than Polythene Pam. All for different reasons. (For the record, I said, "for the moment, I think it's the best song John Lennon has written.)

Pleasant? Innocuous? If those are the words that come to mind when you hear this song then it has failed miserably in your ears. In my ears I hear sadness, melancholy, knelling.

To be blunt, I’m cringing at some responses here. It appears as though virtually no one gave it a close listen. Like you would give a good poem here a close reading. It’s disheartening.


Thoughts
  • I will grant you this much: it is not a Beatles song in the strict sense. It is something more: it is an epilogue. It is both the binding and the cover to the Beatles’ book of music and cultural influence. Everything from now on is just reverberation. It is a final remnant piece, not to be left behind, that completes the phantasmagoric Beatles legacy.

  • When I heard the song for the first time and read some of the hype leading up to its release, I was ready to cross it off as being just another notch in the post-Beatles money-making belt of an enterprise. Listening to the song the first time did not immediately spark anything that captured my imagination... But as the sequence of events unfolded and I listened closer, things changed. Good are has the capacity to do that if you let it; give it a chance. (The release was a sequential one: the song was first released without the video; then 24 hours later came the video version; then a flood of other information was released about the making of the song and video and the key players in getting it done.)

  • After I absorbed all of that, the song became something more. All good art has the capacity to grow on you. You need only allow it. When it cracked open I realized what I was listening to/experiencing: a miraculous confluence of things on many levels that affected me deeply.

  • Even if you don’t believe in Beatle mystique, this is a haunting, beautiful, poignant goodbye. A dirge. A funeral song. A burial. An elegy. Of course, if you're not willing to acknowledge that this is a bonafide Beatles song and that the Beatles as a musical force continue to set standards, then this song will not interest you as much as it does me.

  • Giles Martin has miraculously arranged it. Peter Jackson has miraculously documented it. But it is undoubtedly John and Paul (and others to a lesser extent) that made it. Their fingerprints are all over it.

  • Say what you will about McCartney, he has lived an exemplary life, stood up for good causes, always deferential, has written some beautiful music. He embodies the essence of the karmic energy that was The Beatles.

  • There were three demo songs of Lennon’s that Yoko Ono handed over to Paul some time ago after John’s death. Two of the songs (Real Love and Free As a Bird) have been produced largely because of the efforts of McCartney. Imo, he recognized the uniqueness of "Now + Then" and saved to be the final song, to be the burial song. He has spared no expense in collaborating with the best to squeeze out the last drops of genius and add his own to the mix. This song is McCartney’s swan song to the relationship that defined both him and Lennon.

  • My personal feeling is that there is an overwhelming amount of love and loss that Paul has always felt since Lennon's death. Since John’s death McCartney has been left to work it all out in his head. They were like brothers. Way back when, it was John who took a chance on Paul. Had he not, McCartney would very likely have been obscure. Worse, he would not have written what he has written. How much poorer the world would be. John made that happen. He didn’t know it at the time, but he did make it happen. Paul knows this. It is the classic “sliding doors” moment. He owes John his life. With the release of Now + Then Paul has paid his debt.
  • The audio and video production is an artistic tour de force. It blends the artificial with the real, the past with the present, and then goes beyond that to a symbolic, metaphorical level that represents the now-ness and then-ness of the Beatles, of John’s untimely death, and of life as a “now + then” experience. It is ultimate.

  • Pay no attention to the hype. The Beatles have been hyped forever. Nothing new there.

  • The Beatles are a touchstone and this song polishes their legacy off. It is not a beautiful song. It’s not brimming with energy. It’s not a song you can imagine they’d play from a rooftop. It’s not rock n roll. It’s uniquely forlorn. It is unadorned. It is not to be compared to any other Lennon/McCartney masterpieces. It stands alone. The song is simply a rare, valuable facet of an entity that is now complete. To call the song melancholic is to scratch the surface. If you allow the song to pour over you it is entirely befitting the somber occasion: the burial of the Beatles.

  • They (The Beatles) always were adept at rejuvenating idioms. (They also coined a few, e.g. “eight days a week”, “hard day’s night”). The phrase “now and then” is a classic example. The song title is a double entendre. It means “from time to time”, but also implies the passing of time from present to the past. It is a blur of time. In the context of the living and the dead,

  • I cannot overstate the gorgeousness of the chord progression (Here is an analysis of it). It's a burial song. It is a carefully arranged, loving funeral dirge. The minor chords that undulate throughout the song are like bells knelling to my ear. It is a simply arranged, mournful, beautiful song in the spirit of John Lennon’s post-Beatles writing style.

  • When you look back, it was a song John wrote in his “old age”. He was nearing death. He didn’t know it, but he could feel it coming close, imo.

  • I’m certain many here will disagree about the contribution of AI to this project. I, too, have my concerns about AI, but using it to produce this is not one of them. I am a purist in spirit and a pragmatist by necessity.

  • The song, in my opinion, is no less than a watershed moment in music and technology. It welcomes AI in to help achieve what up to this point in history was out of reach: an artistic rendering that transcends the physical boundaries of time. A rare occurrence of the two (the genius of Lennon and McCartney and the genius of artificial intelligence) working together at the very highest levels to change the trajectory of both for the better, I think. I think.
  • For the moment, in my opinion, Now + Then (that’s the way Lennon wrote it on the cassette tape.) Like it or not, AI is going to play a role in how we move forward artistically during this tumultuous period of transition we are presently in the throes of. Imagine.

  • Consider this: John and Paul often brought rough drafts of songs to each other and finished them together. What we see/hear, is a rare occurrence of the two working together at the very highest levels of the imagination to complete a song together for the last time. AI helped make that happen. It has changed the trajectory of both for the better, I think. I’m certain many here will disagree.

  • It is obviously not a “Beatles” song in the traditional sense. It is completely missing the point, imo, to think that this song should be compared to any other Beatle song. It is a clear message that the dream that was The Beatles is over. (interestingly, it is a message that Lennon explicitly gave in his song “God”.) But it was not over. Paul McCartney made sure of that. The song stands as the defining end to the Beatles’ output as defined by the last remaining thread of the creative force behind the art of the Beatles. (If, on the other hand, in a year or two McCartney decides to add another song to the album, I will eat my hat and walk away.)

  • This is a Lennon masterpiece that would not have been possible without the artistry of Paul Mc Cartney. It is a song full of loneliness and longing. The importance of the song will not be felt by casual “fans”. It will be misinterpreted by critics who only look at it in the context of Beatles music and compare it to other songs in their discography.

  • Although it has not been explicitly said, I believe this is a homage/love letter to John from Paul using John’s song as a conduit. (The last time the two of them got together, Paul remembers John saying to him, “Think of me now and then, old friend.” To the best of my knowledge it is fact.

  • In the end, in spite of the finality and the sadness inherent in the song and video, it makes me happy to hear it come to fruition in the midst of such fruitlessness in the world.

  • Last, there is something about music when you include the eyes. Question: how do we take in a poem? Through the eyes? Through the ears? Similarly, how do we take in music? Through the ears? Can it also be taken in through the eyes? My instincts tell me that moving forward art will evolve into a multi sensory experience; a confluence of beauty.

  • This is not the first time the Beatles have capitalized on technology. They did it frequently during their wholeness. But this is the last time, done by what/who remains. It is a hauntingly beautiful song, and its meaning in the context of the production of it - which is miraculous technically - just cracks my heart open.

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  #8  
Unread 11-08-2023, 07:22 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
If I did say Polythene Pam was Lennon’s best song I’ll eat my hat.
You didn't say that. You said
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
sometimes the best song lyrics can be broken into short poems that effectively bridge the gap between lyrics and poetry. Like this one:


Well, you should see Polythene Pam
She's so good-looking, but she looks like a man
Well, you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
Yes, you should see Polythene Pam
Yeah, yeah, yeah


Polythene Pam, John Lennon


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  #9  
Unread 11-09-2023, 06:13 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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Hi Jim,

Your passionate defence of “Now and Then” was a gripping read. Over the years I have made many mix-tapes, and Spotify playlists studded with gems I’ve found. Too often I’ve played them to underwhelmed family and friends, who have asked me to turn it down a bit, skip on a track, play their own request instead. It is painfully disheartening. How is it humanly possible for them not to feel what I feel? I know for a fact, for an objective indisputable certainty, that what I’m playing them is treasure. If I could put it on a weighing scale, they’d know that it was gold. If I could wire it up to an oscilloscope, the wave would shout Wonderful. Can’t they feel it wriggle down their spine and wrap around their gut? Hmmm, I feel a poem coming on.

Last edited by Joe Crocker; 11-09-2023 at 06:47 AM.
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  #10  
Unread 11-09-2023, 08:25 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Crocker View Post
mix-tapes... Too often I’ve played them to underwhelmed family and friends
It seems to me that what we get from pop music (like what we get from light verse) tends to be more subject to taste and fashion than what we get from classical music (or poems that are less light).
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