Look, for the record, I happen to like Taylor Swift, though I’m hardly in her demo sweet spot either agewise or genderwise and I don’t have a kid pestering me to take out a second mortgage for concert tickets. I’ve seen her SNL performances, I like her sound (particularly those on “Taylor’s versions”) and I admit she’s easy on the eyes. And yes, I liked and knew about her long before Traylor became a thang.
But I’m been to a few more rodeos than she has, and most certainly the majority of her fans. So I experienced more than a small bit of satisfaction when FORBES’ Hugh McIntyre dropped this story early Friday morning:
The Beatles are back with their first new single in decades, and their fans are showing up to support the just-released tune. The legendary rock band is proving their power as “Now and Then” arrives on Spotify’s rankings of the most-streamed songs all around the planet, and the group has even managed to best the biggest star in the world… at least in one place.
“Now and Then” was the No. 1 most-streamed song in the U.K. on Spotify on Thursday, November 2. The track racked up just under 387,000 streams in less than a full day. It pushes Taylor Swift’s new track “Is It Over Now?” down from the top spot. On the same day, that track earned another 383,000 streams.
It’s a tribute both to technology and endurance that this even happened at all. As VARIETY’s Chris Willman explained in a recent piece:
As was previously known, the tune has its origins in a John Lennon solo demo from the ’70s that Yoko Ono made available when the surviving members decided to add fresh tracks to the “Anthology” collections in the mid-’90s. While Paul, George and Ringo finished “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” with producer Jeff Lynne at the time, they set aside “Now and Then,” in part because Lennon’s rough home-cassette vocal lacked the fidelity to easily mesh with what the other members were attempting to graft on two decades later.
It was McCartney’s idea last year to re-approach “Now and Then” and pull a usable version of Lennon’s vocal using the same technology that’d been used to separate music or conversation from background noise for Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary film. The new single has a telling credit for the New Zealand company WingNut Films Productions Ltd. for “source separation”; the press announcement notes that Jackson’s sound team was led by Emile de la Rey, who was charged with taking Lennon’s low-fi demo and setting his vocal apart from his piano and other noise.
It’s not like this kind of emotionally charged resurrection hasn’t occurred before. Heck, Natalie Cole was bringing new attention to her dad Nat “King” Cole with a “duet” of his classic UNFORGETTABLE more than 30 years ago. And, indeed, as Willman noted, the Beatles themselves used this trick around the same time, more than a decade after Lennon’s tragic murder. But with Harrison now gone more than two decades as well, and with McCartney and Starr both in theie 80s, the timing and relative urgency to seize upon their opportunity was dramatic. And yes, for both performers and fans, it’s more than their guitars that are gently weeping:
Willman’s story continued with these revelations from the surviving members:
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in a statement. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.” Added Starr, “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”
And the deceased members’ relatives are no less gushing:
Olivia Harrison co-signed on the effort to revive the track. She said, “Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard. If he were here today, Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of ‘Now and Then.'” Sean Ono Lennon added his imprimatur to the project, too, saying: “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that Dad had been gone. It’s the last song my dad, Paul, George and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be.”
And the fans? Well, let USA TODAY’s Mike Snider describe their reaction:
Across social media, Beatles fans revealed how listening to the song, “Now and Then,” released Thursday, brought them to tears. “I teared up immediately hearing John’s voice so clear,” Mark Smotroff, a communications specialist and music reviewer for the Analog Planet website, posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Fans on The Beatles Instagram page – and each of the individual band members’ pages – noted how emotional it was hearing the song. “So this is how it feels to witness a new Beatles song being released!!! I’m crying tears of joy!! this is so freaking good!!! LONG LIVE THE BEATLES!!!!” posted one listener on the official Instagram page of the late ‘George Harrison.
I know I needed a few tissues when I heard it for the first time yesterday. Here, have a listen yourself:
And this is part of an entire Beatles renaissance just in time for the holidays, as Willman further detailed:
Collectors who say “I wanna hold my physical single” will be happy to know that “Now and Then” is getting a stand-alone release on vinyl, and even cassette, apart from its place as an addition to the reconfigured “1967-70” album. The newly completed track will come out on vinyl in four different 7-inch or 12-inch variants. It’s being described as a “double A-side single,” with the new stereo remix of the Fabs’ first single, “Love Me Do,” on the flip side. (Note, however, that some variants of the single and two hits collections will only be available via the Beatles’ own webstore.). As for the 2023 editions of the “1962-66” and “1967-70” albums, choices abound there, too. Retailers everywhere will offer both collections as separate two-CD or three-LP 180g black-vinyl sets. But if you want them bundled together in a slipcase, and/or want colored vinyl, those are limited to the Beatles’ store and described as limited editions. The webstore offers a four-CD set that bundles the two collections together in a slipcase. More tantalizingly, the Beatles’ store offers the “red” album on red vinyl and the “blue” one on, yes, blue – either individually or bundled together in a slipcase as a six-LP set. A bundled six-LP set on standard black vinyl in the slipcase is also exclusive to the Beatles’ store.
I’d like to think some Swifties with some disposable income might consider this as a thank you gift for any generous parent, grandparent or even great-grandparent that indulged their current day obsession in the manner that their elders once did. Hey, both she and the Fab Four once filled a venue where the New York Jets play, and have been way more watchable that the version of the teams that typically played there
Look, someday Swift might be able to have the same effect on her fans, too. After all, she’s already eclipsed the kind of impact they had in at least one respect, as BBC News reported back in 2021:
Taylor Swift has broken The Beatles’ long-held chart record for having the fastest run of three number one albums.
Swift’s re-recorded LP Fearless (Taylor’s Version) topped the UK chart on Friday, following the success of her recent efforts Folklore and Evermore.
The US singer scored her hat-trick in a total of just 259 days, beating the Fab Four’s 54-year-old record of three chart-topping albums in 364 days.
John, Paul, George and Ringo’s run was for Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver.
So we know what’s she’s like now. Let’s see how she holds up then.
And if we’re to believe at least what one aging app we put a recent photo of hers to the test with, let’s just say she might just want to consider some work at some point.
I’m hoping against hope that I might still be around to be proven wrong.
Until next time…