Here And Now

Album: Aurora Gory Alice (1993)
Charted: 56
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  • Letters To Cleo is a Boston-based alt-rock banded fronted by Kay Hanley, who sings the rapid-fire chorus that made "Here And Now" a standout track of the '90s. An early version first appeared on their 1993 debut album, Aurora Gory Alice, which was re-released a year later - containing the now-familiar recording of their seminal hit - when they landed a contract with Giant Records.

    The song gained traction after it was featured on an episode of the primetime soap Melrose Place, as well as the show's soundtrack, reaching #10 on the Modern Rock chart.
  • Brian Karp played bass on the original version but was replaced by Scott Riebling in the new recording. Karp's apartment served as the site of inspiration for an integral part of the tune. Hanley recalled to the Boston radio station WGBH:

    "The chorus - the fast part - was written in the living room of our former bass player's apartment in the South End. Someone started playing 'daga-daga-daga' and I just came up with it. That was the first part that was written, and we wrote outward from there."
  • Hanley also explained to WGBH how a snarky remark from an ex-boyfriend and a coffee table book inspired a song about being the best version of yourself in the here and now "as opposed to relying on this huge sky ghost to take care of you later." She said:

    "He always used to tell people that, 'You're a parody of yourself.' Like that was his ultimate diss that he could give someone. And honestly to this day he's like, 'Where are my royalties for that line?' I think he just asked me that again like two years ago. And he had a book called The Comfort of Strangers under our coffee table for years. I never read it but the title stood out to me. So that became 'comfort of knowledge' and it's about karma and energy. And the 'comfort of a knowledge of a rise above the sky above' is like you know you're going to heaven so just do whatever you want while you're here. It's a rejection of that idea."
  • The original incarnation of the song had a funkier vibe, with the chorus coming in later, and a throwaway melody line in the outro that was reworked as a pre-chorus hook for the new recording. Hanley credits producer Mike Denneen for re-arranging the track into a power-pop guitar hit.

    "Without Mike Denneen in the equation, that song would have gone nowhere," she told the Louisville, Kentucky, radio station WFPK in 2018.
  • The single's success gave the band the wrong idea about how to get their songs on the charts. Hanley told WFPK: "So right after the record was re-released, right away it was like on the radio, on the charts, and we were like, 'Oh, well that's how it works. You've gone to a label, and you get a song on the radio and it just goes from there.' And we were like, 'Cool, great!'"

    When their second record didn't follow the same trajectory, they learned the hit process wasn't so easy. But to be fair, they were also thwarted by a sexist radio standard. "All of the sudden it was like, 'Oh no, sorry, we added Alanis Morissette, we can't add any more girls.' And we were like, 'What?' And so we didn't know you're not guaranteed another shot at the charts. So we had to kind of come up with contingency plans, so we just kept touring."
  • Letters To Cleo didn't begrudgingly accept a Melrose Place placement at the behest of their record label - it was the band's idea. Hanley was a fan of the show ("I love Dr. Michael Mancini and his crazy wife Kimberly," she told the Los Angeles Reader in 1995") and was eager to get a spot on the soundtrack album, alongside acts like Paul Westerberg, who contributed "A Star Is Bored."

    "We thought it was going to be this really funny, kitschy thing to do that we could show our friends," she said. "See, we're on a record with Paul Westerberg, can you believe that?' The next thing you know, it was the single, when we really thought that nothing would ever come of it. The last thing we thought was that we'd forever be linked with the program."
  • In 2014, the long-disbanded group appeared on the season 6 finale of Parks & Recreation to perform this at the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert. A couple years later, they reunited for real, releasing the EP Back To Nebraska and going on tour.
  • Hanley gets tired of playing some of the band's old songs, but not this one. "A lot of people resent having to play their hits, but I love that song," she told Songfacts in 2022. "I love playing it. I love singing it. It's hard now - it challenges me. I can't sleep on that song. It's hard, but I love it."
  • This was used on the reboot BH90210 in the 2019 episode "The Long Wait."
  • Shot in Massachusetts, the music video was directed by Mark Kohr and features a pig-tailed Hanley leading the band in a rocking performance against a colorful scenic backdrop. It was a casual experience for Hanley which probably couldn't be replicated in the modern business-centric music industry. She told Jeff Pearlman in 2013: "When we made the video for 'Here And Now,' I rolled out of bed that morning, probably late, I don't think I took a shower. I dug some clothes out of a corner of my room. Maybe my clothes were clean and folded. Probably not. And I put my dirty hair up in ponytails, because that's what I could do with my hair that day because I'd just rolled out of bed, and then we went ahead and shot a video. And then it ended up being a big video for us."

    She continued: "And now, rock bands - you wouldn't go to a video without having a team of stylists. Boys having hairdressers and makeup on the set of your video. Music has gotten so safe and so contained and so... the musicians have embraced the idea that it’s the music business. When we were young, musicians couldn't run away fast enough from the idea that it was a business. And, I don't know that there's anything wrong with that necessarily. In today's day and age, when records aren't selling, you have to figure out a way to get your image out there. But there’s just this incredible lack of risk taking."
  • Even though this was Letter To Cleo's only hit, the band got a lot of exposure in the '90s through movies and TV. Aside from their fortuitous Melrose Place placement, they also recorded a cover of The Cars' "Dangerous Type" for the movie The Craft and showed up as Julia Stiles' favorite band in 10 Things I Hate About You, playing Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me," among other tunes.


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