Unreleased John Lennon Beatles Track Now and Then Revived with Artificial Intelligence
In a groundbreaking development, an unreleased track by John Lennon, one of the legendary members of The Beatles, has been resurrected using artificial intelligence (AI). Titled Now and Then, the song was recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s but never saw the light of day. The remaining Beatles members, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, made numerous attempts to recover the lost songs of their late bandmate. Decades later, AI technology finally made it possible to revive Now and Then, sparking a debate about the ethics surrounding the use of a deceased artist’s voice and artistic legacy.
The journey of bringing Now and Then back to life began in 1994 when Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s wife, presented a tape labeled For Paul to the group. While they managed to recover other tracks like Free As a Bird and Real Love, they struggled to separate the vocals and piano from Now and Then to blend them with other music due to the limitations of their technology at the time. Consequently, the song remained consigned to the box of memories.
However, hope emerged when acclaimed director Peter Jackson and his team developed software during the production of the documentary ‘Get Back.’ This software proved instrumental in separating Lennon’s voice on the original demo tape over a year ago. Giles Martin, son of the late George Martin, then produced an early mix of Now and Then. Jackson, expressing his enthusiasm for the song, revealed that he had listened to it more than 50 times purely for pleasure.
The Beatles group asserts that they have not altered John Lennon’s voice, a contentious ethical dilemma inherent in this particular case. Nevertheless, in 2023, the band reunited to contribute their musical talents to the song, with McCartney on bass and piano and Starr on drums. Harrison’s guitar, which fell silent after his passing in 2001, has also been reintegrated into the track. Giles Martin added a string arrangement, and some additional backing vocals were incorporated as well.
The use of AI technology in this endeavor has sparked considerable debate. Press releases have gone back and forth, with references to artificial intelligence being removed from the narrative. Nevertheless, Paul McCartney had previously acknowledged the involvement of AI. With no clear regulatory framework in place, the boundaries remain undefined, though discussions around this topic have flared up during the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes.
Opinions on the matter are divided, but some view the revival of Now and Then as a positive outcome. Musician Igor Paskual believes it is good that it has been recovered since we are in dire need of beauty in these challenging times. He further emphasizes that there is a human fear of machine-driven art, which ultimately stems from a fear within ourselves of not being on par with technology.
As the controversy surrounding the use of AI in artistic endeavors continues, the revival of John Lennon’s Now and Then brings to the forefront the complex ethical questions at hand. While the song’s return is undoubtedly a cause for celebration for Beatles fans worldwide, it serves as a crucial moment for reflection on the intersecting realms of technology, art, and the preservation of an artist’s legacy.