By Emma Mitchell •
Updated: 02 Nov 2023 • 15:02
Let it be. Credit: commons.wikipedia.org
The Beatles’ so-called ‘final’ song, Now And Then, has been released today with much media fanfare and excitement. But does the world really need a dredged-up, AI-enhanced song from one of the most over-rated bands in history?
There’s been wall-to-wall press coverage, dubious academic pondering and even a 12-minute mini-documentary, “Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song,” that premiered on YouTube Disney+ Wednesday afternoon and worryingly was apparently only the start of a ten-day-long tsunami of material aimed at Beatles ‘buffs’.
Now And Then, the song that Yoko Ono found down the back of the sofa back in 1994, started off life as a John Lennon demo in 1970 and sputtered out there. After Ono handed over the tape to the rest of the band in 1995 the remaining members had an abortive attempt at finishing the song, quickly realising that the technology of the time wasn’t up to separating out Lennon’s vocals from piano in any way that would result in a releasable track.
Now, 50 years after the demo recording, and with the application of more advanced technology and AI, Lennon’s vocals from the 1970s have been melded with Harrison’s guitar from 1995 and later contributions from Paul and Ringo and the whole thing has been regurgitated into a latest, and apparently ‘final’, Beatles track.
But here’s the thing, the Drab Four are possibly one of the most over-rated bands in music history so let’s come together and let it ruddy well be. Time to move on before we all have to suffer another ‘global event’ with Paul McCartney being wheeled onto stage to twang guitar strings and finger ligaments like the ghost of music past.
Beatles fans will obviously huff into their morning cereal over the sentiment and justify the ‘greatest band’ epithet by pointing to such things as the Beatles’ massive body of work, perhaps claiming that they revolutionised 1960s fashion and culture, probably declaring that their music transcends genres, time and perhaps even space. They may point to the ‘genius’ of the incomprehensible lyrics to I Am The Walrus as though it’s the musical equivalent to a James Joyce novel, rather than the sort of output expected from a group of cackling under-grads after their first ‘shroom experience.
Sure, many Beatles songs are easily remembered and whistled. Sure, at the time they were so popular that hordes of young women did what young female fans could do in an age where knickers were too large to throw, they engaged in hysterical giggling and screaming followed by a spot of dramatic fainting. Sure there have been a squillion documentaries and books about them, not to mention a fair few conspiracy theories created around them. They were still dull though and, not only not the best band ever, but probably not even the best band of the sixties.
If we want to talk about stadium-filling raw energy then we’re surely looking at The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger strutting his way around the stage growling out lyrics rather than a safe, jaunty Beatles with Paul McCartney looking like class-voted ‘boy most likely to meet your parents.’
And surely the crown for raw sex appeal doesn’t belong to anyone in The Beatles, but to Jim Morrison, an anti-establishment bad-boy whose drawl and sinuous stage moves projected ennui and cynicism. Then there’s his band, The Doors, who made The Beatles’ attempts at psychedelia give one the same sort of skin-crawling embarrassed feeling that generally arises when a middle-aged politician is asked who their favourite band is and they reply “Stormzy.”
How about the abstract lyrics of I Am The Walrus and their flirtations with art then? Do The Beatles trump others with their avante-garde? Not even close when compared with The Velvet Underground who were deep into the New York avante-garde art scene and boasted the father of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, as their manager and patron. Musically, the Velvets are often credited with inspiring punk, thanks to their heavy use of distortion and atonal feedback and David Bowie often named them as his early influence. Their debut album with German actress, Nico, featured songs covering topics from heroin addictions, prostitution and sado-masochism, sold only 30,000 copies in its first year of release but was subsequently ranked by Rolling Stones magazine as 13th in its list of ‘500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.’
Okay, so what about instrumental talent? George Harrison and his little guitar solos, not to mention the brief flirting with sitars. Unfortunately, if Harrison’s guitar solos were compared with Jimi Hendrix’s and described in toast terms, poor old George would be a thin white slice that’s been out of the toaster for an hour before being spread with margarine versus Jimi’s being a grill toasted slice of spelt sourdough, piled high with smashed avocado and some chilli and sumac for a kick. Hendrix revolutionised rock and paved the way for bands like Led Zep, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.
Right, well what about the sheer ‘Englishness’ of The Beatles? They were the superstars of the British invasion of the US in the sixties. Well yes, but no. The Kinks evoked Sunday afternoons on the cricket green with jam and cream scones like no other band, Ray Davies crafting beautiful, cynical lyrics about snapshots of British life. On top of that, they were the band that introduced the power chord, now a staple of rock songs.
So what were The Beatles best at? Perpetuating the hype for definite, settling into their various roles as ‘national treasures’ and thereby guaranteeing headline act for anything from a royal event to a Glastonbury Pyramid Stage and, well, just being a Beatle.
It’s time though to leave them, and their music, where it belongs – in the past, as part of musical history. At this point, new band releases are both faintly embarrassing and, to misquote Mick Jagger,
“You’re obsolete, oh Beatles,
My poor old-fashioned Beatles,
I said, Beatles, Beatles, Beatles, you’re out of time.”
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Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on email@example.com
I think this vitriol is out of order . A totally one-sided out pouring of negativity. And I guess you are going to praise the latest Rolling Stones album. A bit of balance please.
Unlike Emna Mitchell, who has obviously had a bad day, I’m looking forward to buying the Beatles last record, they have given a lot of pleasure over the years.
What an absolute disgusting piece of work. You reallty are a terrible person to write this and showing what you (dont) know.
I did never post any comments on this site. But reading this article let me understand that to call yourself a writer is not worthy of the name! If you don’t know the real story behind and who they are and were you better don’t come here to make yourself ridicules. You are nothing as a writer, what authority do you represent?It is a fact that the new song is a production of a very high quality standard. It would be great if more artists today would go for that, the thing is they can not !I can also assure you that several great composers have given their findings about the song, it would have been better that you did read them first before posting your negativity. Searching to make a name or to become known in a wrong way.
You don’t even know the word respect ! Respect is what this group has earned many years ago and still have from many fans but also performers all over the world. It is still better for me to know that before girls were screaming for them and not taking drugs to go and see their preferred group of musicians.I hope they kick you out at Euro Weekly News. It is the least that they can do.
And as the song ends you can hear these words “your welcome”. All the songs from The Beatles reflected positivity and not what you are trying to do, stupidity, negativity and arrogant behavior Keep your negative comments for yourself, nobody here is waiting to read them !
I’m adding to this because the latest song, not album, in fact the last song is very poor. Like much of some of the other musicians mentioned here. It is sad because it gives the beatle bashers leverage. All bands and musicians have bad songs. I’m not going into details but believe I could. My take is that the Beatles that are left did this as a kind of eulogy. Just leave it be. And please don’t pretend to be a music expert critic. I am very sad that so much nastiness comes out so easily. Don’t we have enough problems?
“… the Drab Four are possibly one of the most over-rated bands in music history.” What an absurd piece of rubbish is this article – written by some nobody.
Journalism at it’s utmost worst.
Not even worth the word journalism. Just simply a narrow minded prejudiced woman talking drivel !!!
Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me
Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on
Lyrics by John Lennon from the song “Instant Karma ! “
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