Now and Then: How composition choices made John Lennon's music memo into a Beatles song

Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Beatles’ “last song ever,” released 61 years after their first single, was bound to be significant.

But how did John Lennon’s lo-fi, 40-something-year-old cassette recording of Now and Then — deemed “fucking rubbish” by George Harrison during the failed 1995 attempt to revive the song — become an instant No. 1 chart hit and worthy addition to the Beatles’ catalogue in 2023?

Beyond the AI-assisted salvage of Lennon’s voice from the noisy cassette, it is worth examining Lennon’s raw materials, and the strategies that made the unfinished late-1970s musical sketch a Beatles’ song.

Had Harrison told Lennon himself that the song was rubbish, Lennon might have responded, “Well I’m not finished with it yet, am I mate?”

Lennon’s original “demo tape” was not made for formal presentation (to a music publisher, for instance).

It was a personal memorandum to capture basic song ideas — something musicians do all the time. If they stopped there, Yesterday would be Scrambled Eggs, and the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction would be one minute of Keith Richards’s signature riff and 45 minutes of snoring.

Source: Steven Baur/



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