Back to the Beatles: ‘Now & Then’ and Imagining The Greatest Beatles Album Never Made

In just a few days, the Beatles will be releasing the very last song that can legitimately be called a Beatles record. 

Now & Then

LIVERPOOL UNITED KINGDOM 06 07 2023: Picture of the Beatles at The Beatles Story is a museum in Liverpool about the Beatles and their history. It is located on the historical Royal Albert Dock
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The song, called Now and Then, was originally written by John Lennon in the late 70s but shelved after his death. Apparently, Yoko Ono gave the song to the surviving Beatles back in the 90s when they were producing the Beatles analogy.  Paul, George, and Ringo liked the song and tried to mash up a recording but came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to isolate John’s vocals enough to make it work. 

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

A record player playing The Beatles Abbey road with the album cover standing behind it.
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Fast forward 25 years, and of course, many things have changed, including technology. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows us to bring long-lost movies and studio recordings back to life.  Director Peter Jackson used much of this technology to sift through miles of previously unreleased film to create the amazing documentary Get Back, which has literally changed the perception of Beatles history. 

Just Gimme Some Truth

Syracuse New York 10 01 2018 The Beatles Stage
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For years, the poorly edited and choppy movie Let It Be defined The Beatles break-up as four guys who couldn’t stand each other. Jackson’s careful restoration of all the footage shot during the Let It Be recording sessions tells a completely different story of four guys who were still best friends but maturing and growing into individuals who needed to go on separate paths. Now, using the same technology, we will be treated to what will be a new release featuring contributions from all the Beatles with a little help from a new friend, AI. 

All Things Must Pass

A selection of famous Beatles album covers including Abbey Road, Help Something New, and more.
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As exciting as a new recording from the Fab 4 will be, it does beg one of the age-old Beatles questions of all time: WHAT IF the band hadn’t broken up when they did? 

Would their next album have been the greatest Rock-n-Roll album ever?

Tripping the Live Fantastic

Cartoon of the Beatles at The Beatles Story is a museum in Liverpool about the Beatles and their history.
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You really have to be more than just a casual Beatle fan to enjoy the next few moments of fantasy speculation, better known in Beatle lingo as a new Magical Mystery tour.  Imagine (thank you, John) the Beatles did not break up in 1969 but maybe took some time off to regroup and came back together a few years later with a treasure chest of new songs (We now call their solo careers) and put them all on one Beatles album.  Let’s have some fun and take a trip back to the 70’s and put one together, shall we? 

No No Song

 A poster advertising of "A CELEBRATION of the MUSIC of THE BEATLES". The Beatles were an English rock band.
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Before we start, let’s just set some fun ground rules. First, this is just my opinion, and it’s just for fun. (I encourage all of you to leave comments and contributions as to what your picks might look like.) Second, the standard album would include 10-12 songs, so to simplify things, let’s go with 12 (yes, I’m aware that it’s not nearly enough). Lastly, I’ve included the years 1970-1976 as my perimeters for the songs and chose Beatle-sounding riffs for authenticity.   

When We Was Fab

A magazine open to portraits of George Harrison and Ringo Star.
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Without question, I think this fantasy album has to start off with the George Harrison guitar riff breaking into “What is Life.”   The song screams BEATLES and brings you right back to the days when the Fab Four held four of the top five places on the Billboard charts.  

I’m Moving On

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - SEPTEMBER 30: The Lennon Wall since the 1980s is filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs on Sep 30, 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic
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Next, John Lennon sets the tone of the album with “Instant Karma” and its hard-driving rhythm that literally “Knocks you off your feet.”

Stop and Smell the Roses

Ringo Starr during his concert tour in Kiev, Ukraine on June 3, 2011.
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In a band that has the dynamic duo of Lennon and McCartney, writing hit after hit as well as timeless, legendary pieces of music still marveled at almost 60 years later. It was frustrating for George when he couldn’t get his music on the albums, even more so when it became apparent that Mr. Harrison had blossomed into a full-fledged songwriter who could go shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of those two. If it was frustrating for George, it was downright impossible for Ringo.  But, in a strange twist of Karma, it was Ringo who came out of the gates with hit after hit once the band broke up.

Back Off Boogaloo

Ringo Starr performing on stage in Ukraine, July 2011.
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Third up has to go to Ringo with his number one hit “Photograph.” This upbeat yet reflective song is about a guy who loses his love and has nothing but memories and a picture in hopes of keeping his love alive.

Power to the People

Dec 8, 2010 fans gather to honor Lennon by singing "Give Peace a Chance" on the 30th anniversary of his passing.
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Fourth goes back to John and his need to speak out on social issues. When you look back at the “Bed-In” and his fervent anti-Vietnam War stance, you know he would have demanded  “Give Peace a Chance” be included on the album.

Ram On

McCartney performs at the Fourth of July concert in the Robert F. Kennedy football stadium in Washington DC. USA, on 4th July, 1990.
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Oddly enough, I think John’s social commentary would have segued beautifully into Paul’s major solo hit, which is my fifth pick, “Band on the Run.”  This kind of thinking is how Beatle conspiracies are created.

#9 Dream

The Imagine tribute in New York's Central Flower decorated with orange, red, and yellow flowers arranged in a peace sign.
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John Lennon’s greatest song and somewhat of a human anthem questioning what we really value in life is the anchor to this side, which I believe is most deserved – “Imagine”. 

Back to the Egg

Sir Paul McCartney at a ceremony honoring George Harrison ith a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Vine Boulevard, Hollywood, CA. 04-14-09
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So if that side doesn’t Rock your boat, just flip over the album and prepare to be amazed with none other than Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” one of several love songs he dedicated to his late wife, the lovely Linda.

My Sweet Lord

Bronze monument to the English rock band The Beatles, on Mount Kok-Tyube. Sculptor Eduard Kazaryan. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, with John Lennon Sitting with a guitar.
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George Harrison follows that up with “Give Me Love,” a wonderfully self-aware piece of poetry that begs for divine intervention in our daily life struggles.

Listen to What the Man Said

Black and white image of Sir Paul McCartney performing live on stage, Uniondale NY 2017.
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Paul’s biggest hit of his solo career and third pick on our fantasy Beatles album B side is more or less an “I’ll Show You,” retort to a comment Paul heard about only being able to write “Silly Love Songs.” The rest is history.

Goodnight Vienna

RINGO STARR performing for charity at AmFAR's Cinema Against AIDS gala at Moulin de Mougins, France in 1998. Ringo is playing the drums.
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Okay, you have no idea how hard this gets because I only have three spots left to fill, and I already know what the last song on the album will be, which leaves me a measly two picks left.

I think Ringo says it best with “It Don’t Come Easy,” which is my fourth B side pick and the tenth song on the album.

Double Fantasy

The Beatles album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band playing with the album cover standing behind the record player.
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John Lennon needs to have one more song on this LP, and it occurred to me that this next one could have a bit of a spiritual connection to one of the greatest Beatles songs ever recorded, “A Day in the Life,” which closes out Sgt. Pepper.  So, the eleventh song on my fantasy Beatles record is by John Lennon, “Mind Games,” in which John contemplates human complexities and surreal situations.


McCartney performs onstage at NYCB Live on September 27, 2017 in Uniondale, New York.
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The last song on this list is a Super Star that ticks boxes even the Beatles never explored. It’s loaded with intrigue, passion, and a superhero in his own right, Bond, James Bond. Yes, the last song on my fantasy Beatles album is “Live and Let Die!” No explanation needed. 

All Together Now

a selection of The Beatles photos and albums, Titled A Hard Day's Night and Love Songs Top view.
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Side One

  1.     What is Life
  2.     Instant Karma
  3.     Photograph
  4.     Give Peace a Chance
  5.     Band on the Run
  6.     Imagine

Side Two

  1.     Maybe I’m Amazed
  2.     Give Me Love
  3.     Silly Love Songs
  4.     It Don’t Come Easy
  5.     Mind Games
  6.     Live and Let Die

John Lennon’s Surprising Influence

The John Lennon Imagine Memorial in Central Park, NY, with a single flower.
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John Lennon inspired millions of people. But did you know he’s also an inspiration to the FIRE movement? Find out how!

Songs About Monsters

A cute little monster toy listening to music with headphones larger than he is.
Photo Credit: Vladimir Sukhachevvia

Enjoy a delightful playlist of songs about monsters this Halloween season!