The Now and then Song of Love
In 1994-5, the remaining Beatles released their Anthology series CD's of their Beatle outtakes, never released songs, different versions of some masterpieces and songs Lennon recorded in 1975-78.
It was a BIG deal. Like anything the Beatles did, it was major news and their Anthology series would be the last time ever any release from the band would occur. It was a fascinating look at what songs they rejected, a few gems (Leave My Kitten Alone, One After 909, from 1964) that had been planned for an LP song, what songs evolved from an idea to final release (the final version of Helter Skelter is NOTHING like the early takes), and songs they wrote, recorded, but never released (with good reason).
Among the songs were two from John, recorded and cleaned from a less than good recording with the remaining Beatles. One was Free As a Bird, which reached No.1 on the charts for a week. The other, Real Love, which did not as good. Both of John's songs were handed over to Paul by Yoko on a cassette. It was a mixed blessing for the remaining Beatles trying to play along with John, who had been killed in 1980. It was trying and emotional.
Also on the tape, labeled, "For Paul", was the hypnotic, melancholy, bittersweet, Now and Then. Its recording was rough and not as complete as the others, but eerie. George, upon hearing it, called it rubbish and refused to work on it. That was not the sentiment of Paul and Ringo, who had always been on better terms with John. For Paul, it was John's lament and love for Paul as brother. It is clear from the lyrics that John was acknowledging that it WAS Paul who shaped the Beatles.
After all, after 1966, most of Beatles classics were the concept by Paul- whether it was Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper, The White LP, or Abby Road. All originated with Paul who the others added their own ideas to. Even the Get Back sessions in 1968 was a concept of Paul's that the others went along with. Before 1966, the Beatles were shaped by John.
Now and Then is a love song to Paul and how John misses his input and friendship after their breakup. In fact, Lennon stated that Paul would show up in NYC unannounced between 1974-8 to jam with John. John was amused and politely told him that he cannot just pop up at the door like when they were teens to jam.
Paul has done the song solo a few times while in a concert and clearly he chokes up trying to complete song. It's just too emotional for him. However, the demo of the song with Paul and Ringo does exist.
Give it a listen. It remains an unfinished and haunting gem. A legacy for John and Paul and just why the Lennon-McCartney team remains unbeatable.