The Beatles are set to release one final record, using artificial intelligence (AI) to isolate John Lennon's voice.
Paul McCartney told the BBC that Lennon's voice had been "extricated" and used to complete the song, which will come out later this year. Though McCartney did not explicitly name the song in the interview, the BBC reports that it is likely Now And Then, a song composed by Lennon in 1978, two years before his death. Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, handed several songs over to McCartney on a tape labeled "For Paul".
The unfinished song was recorded as a demo, with Lennon playing the piano and doing vocals.
While two other songs - Free as a Bird and Real Love – from the tape were released in the 1990s, they were more complete. All songs on the tape were marred by a mains hum, which was loudest on the Now and Then track, making it more difficult to remove and release.
Though McCartney was keen on releasing all three songs, George Harrison was less enthusiastic about Now and Then, calling it "fucking rubbish" according to the New Yorker. His dislike of the song killed the idea.
“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 explained to the now defunct Q Magazine in 1997, adding, "George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”
McCartney told the BBC that the vocals and piano – which had been recorded on the same track – had been separated using AI, making it easier to piece together with newly-recorded music. He had previously used AI to isolate Lennon vocals, performing a "duet" with Lennon at Glastonbury Festival in the UK in 2022.
“That’s so special for me man,” McCartney said after the performance. “I know it’s virtual but come on – it’s John. We’re back together.”