Sir Paul McCartney has confirmed the “final Beatles record” will be released later this year with help from AI technology and a famed Kiwi director.
The song’s title was not given by McCartney when he spoke to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, although it is most likely Now And Then, a 1978 John Lennon song.
When the Beatles were creating their career-spanning Anthology series in 1995, Now And Then had already been discussed as a potential “reunion song” for them.
The demo was given to McCartney by Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, a year earlier. It was one of several songs Lennon recorded on a tape titled “For Paul” just before he died in 1980.
Two of those tracks, Free As A Bird and Real Love, were polished by producer Jeff Lynne and published in 1995 and 1996, making them the Beatles’ first “new” songs in 25 years.
Additionally, the group tried to record Now And Then, a love song that was typical of Lennon’s later work, but the session was quickly abandoned, McCartney told Radio 4.
“It didn’t have a very good title, it needed a bit of reworking, but it had a beautiful verse and it had John singing it,” McCartney told Q Magazine.
George Harrison allegedly rejected the song as “rubbish” and refused to continue working on it.
The initial recording was rumoured to have had technical problems since it had a persistent “buzz” coming from the electrical circuits in Lennon’s home.
McCartney had consistently talked about his longing to finish the track and told BBC he was afforded the opportunity with the help of AI and a Kiwi icon.
Famed New Zealand director Sir Peter Jackson originally used the technology while creating Get Back, where dialogue editor Emile de la Rey trained computers to recognise the Beatles’ voices and separate them from background noises. This helped create “clean” audio.
“He [Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney told Radio 4.
“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.”
McCartney has not revealed the release date of the song but said it would be later this year.