KSQD 90.7 FM Santa Cruz
KSQD 90.7 FM Santa Cruz
On The New Beatles Song "Now and Then" by Gary Shapiro

A final Beatles song called “Now and Then” was released in November 2023. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone Magazine called it, “The brilliant final statement the Fab Four — and their fans — deserve.”

By Gary Shapiro 

I like to sleep late. The only time I am up in the early morning hours is if I haven’t been to bed yet. I especially sleep late on Thursdays, because my late-night show Shapiro At Night is at midnight Thursdays. But on Thursday November 2, 2023, I awoke at exactly 7 am. I was confused! Why am I awake? What is going on. Then I remembered! Today is the day the new Beatles song is released. I reached over and stuck in my earbuds and took my first listen to Now And Then. After a few piano chords, John Lennon’s voice rang out loud and clear, “I know it’s true…” After his first phrase came a bass and drums. But not any bass and drums! The bass of Paul McCartney and the drums of Ringo Starr! Then the strumming of George Harrison’s guitar! With each passage in the song the sound built and unfolded. New and entirely familiar. The voices, the harmonies, the strings, The Beatles! Before the song finished, tears filled my eyes. What a wonderful gift. I went back to sleep for a few hours of course. But I played the song again and again that day. And at midnight Shapiro At Night began with Now and Then, placing it in the context of some of my favorite Beatles songs.

I recently spoke with Philip Norman, the author of Shout! The Beatles In Their Generation, the first serious book written about The Beatles. We were recording an interview for my talk show From The Bookshelf. He has just written his fourth book about the group, George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle. I asked him what he thought of Now and Then. He told me:

It actually increased my respect for George, because George did not want to release that in the 1990s, when it was possibly going to be a part of the Beatles Anthology series of albums, because it is, quite frankly, terrible.  It doesn’t sound like the Beatles. It doesn’t sound like John. It sounds a bit like the sort of Beatles pastiches of the seventies, the Electric Light Orchestra a bit like them. But it’s a real mess, and has really nothing. …I’m sure you know that John made these demos in his so-called retirement of the late seventies. Two of those tracks came out (Free As A Bird, Real Love) as part of the anthology. They were tremendously poignant and charming, but this seems to me to have absolutely nothing at all.

I didn’t voice my disagreement. Nor did I ask the question that if it doesn’t sound like The Beatles, how could it sound like a pastiche of The Beatles? And what sounds like The Beatles? From Me To You? Eleanor Rigby?  Revolution #9?  I Want You (She’s So Heavy)? I wonder what KSQD listeners think of Now And Then!

(Have a listen above)

Gary’s “From the Bookshelf” interview with author Philip Norman will air Thursday, December 28, 2023 at 6pm on KSQD.org online, and across the Monterey Bay region on 89.5, 89.7 & 90.7 FM