The Beatles have announced their "final" song, titled "Now and Then," created with the assistance of artificial intelligence
The Beatles will release their "final" song at 1 AM next Friday Australian time, nearly 43 years after the passing of singer and songwriter John Lennon.
The song, titled "Now and Then," was originally a demo version recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s. Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, it has been turned into a full recording featuring Lennon's songwriting partner Paul McCartney, drummer Ringo Starr, and guitarist George Harrison, who passed away in 2001.
While today marked the first official confirmation of the release of "Now and Then," earlier this year McCartney announced that there would be one last Beatles song. Many fans speculated that this song would be "Now and Then," a recording that was presented on demo cassettes labeled "For Paul," which Lennon's widow Yoko Ono handed over to McCartney in 1994.
A year after the release of these recordings, The Beatles released "Free As A Bird," their first new material in 25 years at the time. It was with the technology available at the time that the remaining three members of The Beatles transformed Lennon's demo into a full song. Another new song, "Real Love," followed a few months later.
"Now And Then" was on these cassettes, but the sound quality was deemed too poor for release. Audio technology has come a long way in the last 28 years, and, thanks in large part to artificial intelligence, we will have a fully realized recording of "Now and Then" next week.
Peter Jackson and his team, who created the documentary series about The Beatles, "Get Back," in 2021 using machine audio learning technology, used this technology to isolate Lennon's voice and piano parts, allowing them to clean up the vocals and bring them into order.
"The crystal-clear voice of John, here it is," McCartney said in a statement released today. "It's very emotional. And we all play on it, it's a real Beatles recording.
"In 2023, I'm still working on Beatles music and am going to release a new song that the public hasn't heard yet, I think that's exciting.
"This was the closest we ever came to getting him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us," Starr said.
"You know, like John was there. It's far."
The recording will also include guitar and bass parts that George Harrison recorded for the song when it first surfaced in the mid-90s.
"Back in 1995, after several days of working on the track in the studio, George felt that the technical problems with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was impossible to bring the track to a sufficiently high standard," said Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison.
"If he were here today, we and Dhani [their son] know that he would wholeheartedly join Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of 'Now And Then.'"
"It was incredibly moving to hear them working together after all these years of Papa's absence," said John Lennon's son Sean Ono Lennon.
"This is the last song my father, Paul, George, and Ringo wrote together. It's like a time capsule, and it feels like it should be."
Before its release, The Beatles will release a 12-minute documentary film about the making of "Now and Then" on their YouTube page. Watch its trailer below.