Paul McCartney clarified comments from last week in which he indicated artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been utilized to complete a “final” Beatles song with elements from a rough late 1970s John Lennon solo demo. Seeking to reassure fans concerned about the implications, he took to Twitter to provide a few further details.
“Been great to see such an exciting response to our forthcoming Beatles project,” he wrote. “No one is more excited than us to be sharing something with you later in the year. We’ve seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guess work out there. Can’t say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created. It’s all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings — a process which has gone on for years.”
“We hope you love it as much as we do. More news in due course,” he concluded of the track, which is believed to be titled “Now and Then.” No release date has been offered, nor has information about how the song will actually be made available.
In a BBC interview on June 13, McCartney first dropped the bombshell that there was “new” Beatles music coming and that it was facilitated by the same technology instrumental in bringing out new audio details in Peter Jackson’s 2021 Beatles documentary Get Back.
“[Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney said. “We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’ So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had [and] we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do.”
With help from producer Jeff Lynne, McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison spent time trying to turn “Now and Then” into a complete song during 1994 and 1995 sessions for the Beatles Anthology, but could not agree on a path forward and left it unfinished.
Two other “new” Beatles songs were created from similar Lennon demos for the project, “Free As a Bird” and ‘Real Love.” However, McCartney has mentioned in interviews for years that he one day hoped to revisit “Now and Then,” which has long circulated as a bootleg.
Lennon’s son Sean also weighed in last week on the AI controversy, replying to fans on Twitter that “I shouldn’t speak too much on this yet but I’ll just say the track turned out beautifully and I think everyone will be very happy.”
Been great to see such an exciting response to our forthcoming Beatles project. No one is more excited than us to be sharing something with you later in the year.
We’ve seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guess work out there. Can’t say too much…
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) June 22, 2023