Get some 'Hackney Diamonds' every 'Now and Then' -- It's The Beatles and Stones again

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Nov. 5—One day this week in the newsroom I asked a rhetorical question of fellow writer Derrick James.

"Hey, what year is this, 1965 or 2023?"

We had a laugh and then went on doing what we do.

I asked the question because the biggest buzz in the music industry over the past week had been the pending release of The Beatles new single, "Now and Then."

Couple that with the fact that the Rolling Stones currently have the #3 top-selling album on the Nov. 4 Billboard 200 album charts with their new LP, "Hackney Diamonds," and any confusion should be understandable — at least in the world of popular music.

"Now and Then" has been famously brought to life using Artificial Intelligence and other technology on a 1970s cassette demo tape recorded by John Lennon.

Following Lennon's December 1980 assassination, his wife, Yoko Ono gave some demo tapes to Paul McCartney in the 1990s, which he shared with George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Two of the Lennon tracks, "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love," were completed by McCartney, Harrison and Starr, and were respectively included on The Beatles albums "Anthology 1" in 1995 and "Anthology 2," in 1996.

They gave up on the other cassette track,"Now and Then," because of technical issues, including separating Lennon's vocal from his piano.

But with new technology, including AI, used on the 2022 Beatles documentary "Get Back," McCartney wanted to try once more to revive "Now and Then."

While I liked and heard the new track on its Thursday release, seeing the video Friday brought a whole new dimension to what's been called "The Last Beatles Song."

By the lyrics alone, it can be perceived several ways, among them an ode for long-lost love or perhaps a nod to Lennon's friendship with McCartney.

The way I see the video though, it's been fashioned by director Peter Jackson as a tribute from McCartney and Starr to their departed bandmates, Lennon, and Harrison, who passed in 2001.

It also can be seen as a nod to Beatles fans.

As for those who say the video is all about nostalgia, that doesn't account for all of the band's many newer fans, who weren't even born by the time The Beatles broke up in 1970.

I wanted to be among the first to her The Beatles new track "Now and Then" when it was released at 9 a.m. Central Time on Thursday.

I found it about 9:03 a.m. — and in that 3 minutes, more than 9,000 people worldwide had already listened to it on YouTube.

About 24 hours later, it already had 818,000 views.

But while the song was released Thursday, the song's official video had a Friday morning release.

Within an hour, it had already logged 121,600 views worldwide — with a variety of languages featured in the comments section.

I consider the "Now and Then" video to be a poignant and masterful way to for a visual look at "The Last Beatles Song."

I won't include any spoilers here, but I would encourage everyone who's ever liked The Beatles's music to watch the song's official video.

As for the Rolling Stones, I found their new album "Hackney Diamonds" to be a worthy addition to the band's oeuvre. No, it won't replace "Beggar's Banquet," "Let It Bleed," "Sticky Fingers" "Exile on Main Street" or "Some Girls" as among the greatest Stones album ever, but it has its own qualities that place it among their most memorable albums.

Mick Jaggers' energized vocals, coupled with the riffing and lead guitars of Keith Richards and Ron Woods, along with the pounding rhythms of new drummer Steve Jordan — with a couple of tracks recorded by Charlie Watts before his passing — make for compelling listening.

I'm obviously not the only one that felt that way, giving "Hackney Diamonds" #3 debut on the Billboard 200 album charts this week.

That's not the only new development either.

With the #3 debut of Hackney Diamonds, Billboard reported that the Rolling Stones were the first musical artists to place an album on the Billboard 200 album charts from the 1960s straight through to the 2020s.

That's an amazing seven decades, beginning with their debut album, "12 X 5" in 1964 and extending with charted albums all the way through to the current 2023 "Hackney Diamonds."

Which musical artist has the most Top 10 albums since Billboard began its top 200 LPs back in the 1950s?

Elvis Presley? The Beatles? Michael Jackson? Garth Brooks? The Eagles?

Nope, Billboard says it's the Rolling Stones, with 38 Top Ten albums — which, it should be noted, includes studio albums, live albums, greatest hits collections and other compilations.

With the Stones so far ahead with the number of Top Ten albums on the Billboard 200, it's going to be a challenge for any other artist to catch up to their record number of 38.

They did it like this:

—Thirteen Top Ten albums in the 1960s.

—Twelve Top Tens in the 1970s.

—Six in the 1980s.

—Three in the 1990s.

—Two in the 2000s — Their compilation "Forty Licks" and "A Bigger Bang" — the Stones last studio album of new original material since "Hackney Diamonds."

—One in the 2010s — Their cover album of blues songs, "Blue & Lonesome."

The closest to placing a tie with the Stones on the number of Top Ten albums is not any of the aforementioned artists, but Barbara Streisand with 34 Top Ten albums, Billboard reported.

She's followed by The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, with 32 Billboard Top Ten albums each.

However, Streisand is within striking distance of the Rolling Stones for the other record — having a charted album on the Billboard 200 in every decade from the 1960s straight through to the 2020s.

She already has charted albums in every decade from the 1960s through the 2010s. To tie the Stones on having charted albums for every decade beginning with the 1960s, all she had to do is release another Top Ten album in the 2020s.

Even if it's another greatest hits collection, another live album or even studio outtakes, any new release by Streisand has a good chance of hitting Billboard's Top Ten — and she has the rest of the 2020s to do it.

Still, the Stones had said they had nearly enough tracks left over from the "Hackney Diamonds" session to release another album.

Tracks for a new album could include their 2019 release "Living in a Ghost Town" — which wasn't included on "Hackney Diamonds."

Bob Dylan included a nod to both The Beatles and the Rolling Stones in his 2020 album "Rough and Rowdy Ways."

He cited The Beatles in his song "Murder Most Foul," about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Dylan referred to the theory that The Beatles arrival in the U.S. in February, 7, 1964, helped pull America's youth from the doldrums into which the nation had sank following President Kennedy's less than three months earlier.

"Hush little children, you'll understand. The Beatles are comin' and they're gonna hold your hand," Dylan sang.

Dylan's nod to the Stones took on a different ilk, on his song "I Contain Multitudes," in which he mixed real and fictional characters.

"I'm just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones, and them British bad boys, the Rolling Stones," Dylan sang.

Like Derrick James said, reviving French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr's 1849 quote in connection to my joke about whether it's 1965 or 2023:

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."