A long-awaited “new” Beatles record, created with the help of artificial intelligence, will be released next week on November 2, former band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr revealed on Thursday.
“Now and Then”, originally written and sung by ex-Beatle John Lennon and developed by the rest of the band, has now been finally finished by McCartney and Starr – in AI – decades after the original recording.
McCartney (81) announced the release in June, which was described in a trailer as “the last Beatles song”.
The song will be released on November 2 at 1300 GMT by Apple Corps, Capitol and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) with a music video to be released the following day.
A 12-minute long documentary film, written and directed by Oliver Murray – best known for a 2022 mini-series about The Rolling Stones, will be shared on YouTube that evening, before comments by McCartney and Starr.
Lennon recorded “Now and Then” in the late 1970s at his home in New York’s Dakota Building.
In collaboration with Peter Jackson, the film director for the 2021 documentary series The Beatles: Get BackAI was used to separate Lennon’s voice from the piano chords.
“And there it was. John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in comments shared with the release date announcement. “It’s quite emotional and we all play in the song. It really is a Beatles recording.”
McCartney adds that it is very exciting to still be working on Beatles music in 2023 and soon to release a new song that the public has not yet heard.
He and Starr completed the song last year, including ex-Beatle George Harrison’s electric and acoustic guitar that was recorded in 1995.
Starr says the process “was the closest we could get to getting him (Lennon) back in the room. It was very emotional for us. It was as if John was there.”
The Beatles – Lennon, McCartney, Starr and George Harrison – parted ways in 1970. Each pursued a solo career, but they never reunited.
Lennon was shot dead in 1980 at the age of 40. Harrison died in 2001 at the age of 58 from lung cancer.
“Now and Then” was one of several songs on a cassette that Lennon recorded for McCartney – a year before his death. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, gave it to him in 1994.
Two other songs, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” were also revised by producer Jeff Lynne and were released in 1995 and 1996.
An attempt was made to do the same with “Now and Then”, but the project was abandoned due to too much background noise.
However, artificial intelligence has now made it possible, although the use of AI in music has sparked an industry-wide debate. Some condemn AI for copyright infringement and others praise the skill.
Earlier this year, McCartney said the use of technology was “a bit scary, but exciting because it’s the future”.
Sean Ono Lennon, the son of Lennon and Ono, said it was “incredibly moving” to hear the ex-Beatles were working together again. “This is the last song that my father, Paul, George and Ringo could make together. It’s like a time capsule and everything feels as if it should be that way.”
“Now and Then” will be released as a double A-side album along with the group’s “Love Me Do” (1962). Album art was designed by American artist Ed Ruscha.