As true Beatles fans know, there were at least four John Lennon songs that Yoko Ono gave the three surviving Beatles in the early 1990s in connection with the Anthology project. Two of the songs — “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” — were completed by the “Threetles” and producer Jeff Lynne and released. One, “Grow Old With Me,” was apparently deemed too complete for Lennon’s three bandmates to mess with.
But there was a fourth — “Now and Then” — that has been the subject of persistent Internet rumors.
A recording of the raw, low-quality, cassette track is floating around the Internet (it’s pretty easy to find.) It’s a rambling, reflective, minor-key piano ballad that seems to be in mid-birth. Lennon was quite free in his songwriting, often taking bits of songs and moving them to other songs as he saw fit (and completely rewriting lyrics, as he did when he changed “A Child of Nature” into “Jealous Guy.”)
It’s been widely reported that Paul, George and Ringo worked on Lennon’s “Now and Then” recording, but gave up after a time. Lynne told an interviewer in 1995:
“There was one afternoon messing with it, but a lot of words weren’t there. We did a rough backing track. It was a very sweet song and I wish we could have finished it. The decision was made to do something already complete. Also because of the [limited] time frame.”
I remember another report saying that George wasn’t keen on the critical reaction to “Free and a Bird” and resisted finishing work on “Now and Then.”
Whether or not that’s true, now there are fresh rumors about the recording. This report claims that all four Beatles’ work is on the track.
Which brings us to the YouTube video above. This is the quite creative work of someone identified as “Bojon0307”, who has taken the Lennon recording and added instrumentation as well as backing vocals from some Beatles tracks to make what he or she imagines might be a new Beatles track. Well done indeed, though I don’t care for the animated Lennon “singing”the song…
Although I have mixed feelings about the “Threetles”‘ Anthology-era releases, I sort of hope that the rumors are true and that Paul and Ringo will release “Now and Then.” Wouldn’t you love to hear it?