A highly anticipated new Beatles record titled Now And Then is set to be released next week on November 2, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Former band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr made the announcement, revealing that they have finally completed the song, which was originally written and sung by ex-Beatle John Lennon.
The track, which has been dubbed the last Beatles song, will be unveiled by Apple Corps, Capitol, and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) at 1300 GMT on November 2. A music video will also be released the following day, along with a 12-minute documentary written and directed by Oliver Murray, known for his work on a 2022 biopic mini-series on The Rolling Stones.
Now And Then was initially recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s at his home in New York’s Dakota Building. In collaboration with film director Peter Jackson, who worked on the 2021 documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, AI was used to separate Lennon’s voice from the piano chords in the recording.
McCartney expressed his excitement about the imminent release, stating that it was emotional to hear Lennon’s voice crystal clear in the final version. He also added that working on Beatles music and being able to release a new song that the public hasn’t heard before is an exciting thing.
The song was finished by McCartney and Starr last year, with contributions from ex-Beatle George Harrison’s electric and acoustic guitar, which was recorded in 1995. Additional elements, such as Starr’s drum part, bass, piano, a slide guitar solo by McCartney inspired by Harrison, and more backing vocals were also added during the recording process.
Starr expressed his emotions during the recording, noting that it felt like John Lennon was in the room with them. The Beatles, which consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison, disbanded in 1970, and each member went on to pursue solo careers. Lennon was tragically shot dead in New York in 1980 at the age of 40, while Harrison passed away from lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.
Now And Then holds significant sentimental value as it was one of several songs recorded by Lennon for McCartney a year before his death. The song was handed over to McCartney by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono in 1994. Two other songs from the cassette, titled Free As A Bird and Real Love, were released in 1995 and 1996 after being cleaned up by producer Jeff Lynne.
The use of AI in music production has sparked debate within the industry, with concerns raised about potential copyright abuses. However, others praise its capabilities and see the technology as a glimpse into the future. McCartney himself described the use of AI in the recording process as both scary and exciting.
Sean Ono Lennon, Lennon and Ono’s son, expressed his emotions upon hearing the former Beatles working together again. He described Now And Then as a time capsule and stated that it felt very meant to be for his father, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr to make the song together.
The release of Now And Then will also coincide with the reissue of the band’s 1962 debut single Love Me Do. The double A-side will feature cover art by US artist Ed Ruscha.
Fans and music enthusiasts around the world eagerly await the release of this new Beatles song, which brings together the iconic voices and musical talents of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr once again.