So, eight days after its release, I finally sat down at my office PC to give the Beatles’ Now and Then music video a proper hearing/viewing on decent speakers/monitor. (I could never have delayed the gratification in 1968.) The first word that came to mind was maudlin — sad and sentimental in both mood and tempo. Competently done, as you would expect, perhaps too much so. Now and Then came across to me as Free as a Bird overlaid with Long and Winding Road.
My next thought was that the video depicted John as over-the-top crazy compared to the other Beatles, as if John were Harpo Marx, appearing mainly for comic relief. Yes, the video included a few bits of McCartney cutting up, but by-and-large I thought the scenes with Jiggly John not only made him look foolish but undercut the mood of the song and the finality of the Beatles.
Wasn’t it Paul prancing down the hill 55 years ago as The Fool on the Hill? Was Paul now attempting to even the score? Are we to conclude it was Paul all along who took the Beatles’ music seriously and was the real innovator in the group? Oh, stop it, I say to my teen-fan-self. We all heard what we heard.
And, in the end, Now and Then resides in my head as a Paul self-indulgence, which wouldn’t be his first (have a taste of Wild Honey Pie). It’s a song I’ll listen to 2 or 3 more times to see if I missed something, but it just doesn’t feel like Beatles canon. Plus, the cover art sucks. Ed Ruscha should have stuck to gas stations.
Speaking of sucking: The Beatle-powers-that-be decided to re-mix I Am the Walrus for the newly-reissued Blue Album, and what a mistake that was. Allow me to opine (like others) that the 2023 mix is an abomination — it over-emphasizes the beat, obscures the elements that made the original recording artsy and distinctive, and basically makes it unlistenable for long-time fans of the song. Can’t believe Paul and Ringo approved this.
I still consider the 1967 Capitol mono single to be the definitive and most well-balanced version of I Am the Walrus. If only Giles Martin and company had started with that mix and used their AI to add some separation and presence, I would have been total on board. Goo goo g’joob.