AI's Latest Trick: A Final Beatles Song

Paul McCartney says it will be released this year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2023 9:10 AM CDT
Final Beatles Song Is Coming, Thanks to AI
The Beatles are seen performing, date unknown. From left to right: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon.   (AP Photo)

For years, Paul McCartney has teased one final Beatles song. Now, with help from artificial intelligence, it's finally complete. "We just finished it up and it'll be released this year," McCartney told the BBC on Tuesday, adding the song began as a demo from John Lennon. The outlet reports the record is likely to be "Now and Then," an "apologetic love song" Lennon composed in 1978. It was one of several songs found after Lennon's 1980 death on a cassette labeled "For Paul," which Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, delivered to McCartney in 1994.

Two other songs on the tape, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," were completed and released in 1995 and '96 as the Beatles' first new music in 25 years, though Lennon's voice was "reduced to a whispery echo due to the deterioration of the tape and the low quality of the recording," per NBC News. McCartney later claimed George Harrison thought "Now and Then" was "f---ing rubbish," so the group "didn't do it," per the Guardian. There were technical issues with the demo, which carried a background "buzz," interfering with Lennon's vocal, per the BBC.

That buzz has since been cleared away with artificial intelligence. McCartney said Peter Jackson, who used cutting-edge AI technology to restore old film footage for his The Beatles: Get Back TV series, used the same technology to improve the sound quality of the recording. The tape "had John's voice and a piano" and "he could separate them with AI," McCartney told BBC Radio 4's Martha Kearney, per NBC. "We were able to take John's voice and get it pure through this AI so then we could mix the record as you would normally do."

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It's unclear if the final track will feature Harrison, who died in 2001. But it's possible. In a 2006 interview, McCartney said he, Harrison, and Ringo Starr had worked on "Now and Then" with producer Jeff Lynne in the 1990s, hoping to be able to release it. "We did the backing track, a rough go that we really didn't finish," he noted, per NBC. According to the Guardian, "Now and Then" begins: "I know it's true, it's all because of you / And if I make it through, it's all because of you." (More Beatles stories.)

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