Written by Xindha Yaeger
With the help of AI and archived recordings, the last Beatles song has been recorded and released. Featuring all four original members, the track is an example of the possibilities of AI in the music industry as well as the lasting success of the Beatles.
“Now and Then” released Thursday, November 2nd 2023, is famously the last Beatles song. Including all four members through the use of AI, the song includes John Lennon and George Harrison. The original demo was made by Lennon in 1978, recorded on a cassette tape. However this is not the first time the band had attempted releasing the song. Originally in 1995, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney came together to complete “Now and Then”. With limits of technology at the time, separating Lennon’s vocals from the backing piano quickly became a problem. Some progress was made until the band decided to continue work on “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” and return to “Now and Then” later. After the death of George Harrison in 2001, they lost the motivation to further work on the song and left the project behind.
The technology to complete the recording became readily available in 2022, thus revamping the previously forgotten work. With the help of director Peter Jackson who worked on the Get Back movie, it was clear that “Now and Then” could be completed. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney sent the cassette to Jackson, who isolated Lennon’s voice using stem separation. George Harrison’s recordings from the original attempt in 1995 were recovered, then sampled for the slide guitar solo in the finished recording. McCartney says in the Youtube Documentary, “ ‘Now and Then’ it’s probably, like, the last Beatles song. And we’ve all played on it, so it is a genuine Beatle recording”.
In my opinion, the use of artificial intelligence in the music industry is one that will create new opportunities for artists to expand their work. Because of AI we are able to hear a new Beatles song in the year 2023; which is something I, along with many of my peers, never thought we’d say. This bittersweet and successful “end” to the Beatles is one that has made history not just for the band, but for the music industry as a whole.