Sir Paul McCartney has announced that he will release a new Beatles recording later this year, created using artificial intelligence. Using new technology, McCartney actively extracted John Lennon’s voice from an old demo and completed a song that had remained unfinished for decades.
During an interview on the Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday, McCartney disclosed that he recently completed the song and plans to release it to the public later this year.
While Sir Paul McCartney did not specify the song, it is probable that the upcoming release is a 1978 composition by Lennon titled “Now and Then.” Lennon had created multiple demos, including this one, on cassettes labeled “For Paul” shortly before his passing in 1980. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, later personally handed over these cassettes to McCartney.
It was largely recorded on to a boombox as Lennon sat at a piano in his New York apartment. The lyrics, which begin “I know it’s true, it’s all because of you / And if I make it through, it’s all because of you”, are typical of the apologetic love songs Lennon wrote in the latter part of his career.
Peter Jackson’s eight-hour epic, Get Back
The idea to use AI to reconstruct the demo came from Peter Jackson’s eight-hour epic, Get Back. For the documentary, dialogue editor Emile de la Rey used custom-made AI to recognise the Beatles’ voices and separate them from background noise.
It was this process that allowed McCartney to “duet” with Lennon on his recent tour, including at last year’s Glastonbury festival, and for new surround-sound mixes of the Beatles’ Revolver album last year.
“[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.’