For years, fans thought truly new material was yesterday, even though it was once here, there and everywhere.
But 43 years after the death of John Lennon – and more than twenty years after the death of George Harrison – The Beatles have reunited with the help of AI.
Today at 2 p.m. the band’s ‘new’ single Now and Then will be released to millions of enthusiastic fans.
Last night, surviving Beatles Sir Paul McCartney, 81, and Sir Ringo Starr, 83, released a short film about how they created the song.
John began recording the vocals for it in the late 1970s, and fourteen years after he was shot dead in 1980, his widow Yoko Ono gave the tapes to Paul.
The technical difficulties of converting the vocals into a complete song were considered insurmountable by George, who died in 2001.
But this feat has now been achieved with the help of artificial intelligence technology used to better isolate Lennon’s voice.
Paul and Ringo then added new parts including drums, bass, backing vocals and a slide guitar solo inspired by George.
Back in the studio! The Beatles have released a short film revealing how they made their last song together 43 years after John Lennon’s death (Paul McCartney pictured in the 1990s)
Demo: The band releases the song Now and Then, which late singer John began recording in the late 1970s before being unearthed by his wife in the 1990s (pictured)
Referring to the death of George Harrison, he said: ‘We lost George in 2001, which took the wind out of our sails. It took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again’
Speaking about the short film which premiered on Wednesday’s One Show, Sir Paul said: ‘When we lost John we knew it really was over.’
Referring to the death of George Harrison, he said: ‘We lost George in 2001, which took the wind out of our sails. It took almost a quarter of a century before we tackled Now and Then again.’
Using new technology, which they used during the production of the docuseries Get Back, the band was able to separate voices and instruments, giving them hope of working on the track again.
When he heard John’s voice again for the first time, Ringo said, “It was the closest we ever got to having him in the room again, so it was very emotional for all of us.” It was like John was there, you know. It is far away.’
A video of John recording the demo at his home in New York’s Dakota Building was given to the rest of the band in 1994.
It included demos for Free As A Bird and Real Love, both of which were completed as new Beatles songs and released as singles in 1995 and 1996 respectively, as part of The Beatles Anthology project.
At the same time, Paul, George and Ringo also recorded new cuts and completed a rough mix for Now And Then with producer Jeff Lynne.
At the time, technological limitations prevented John’s vocals and piano from being separated to achieve the clear, cloudless mix needed to complete the song.
Now And Then was shelved, hoping it would be revisited one day.
The docuseries The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson, was released in 2021 and viewers were stunned by the award-winning film and audio restoration.
Finally succeeded! Now And Then was shelved, hoping it would be revisited one day
Sincere: During the short film, Paul explained that within minutes John’s voice rang through the room, crystal clear, as if he were there in person
It’s not over yet! Paul McCartney said of the short film which premiered on Wednesday’s One Show: ‘When we lost John we knew it was really over’
Band: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on before his death, some of which they released at the time
Back to work: However, John’s wife Yoko Uno handed over a series of demos that John had been working on before his death, some of which they released at the time
Questions: This performance opened the way to 2022’s new mix of Revolver, taken directly from the four-track master tapes. This led to the question: what could be done with the Now And Then demo? (John pictured with Yoko)
Using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology, Jackson’s team had demixed the film’s mono soundtrack, managing to isolate instruments and vocals, as well as all the individual voices in The Beatles’ conversations.
This performance opened the way to Revolver’s new mix for 2022, taken directly from the four-track master tapes. This led to the question: what could be done with the Now And Then demo?
Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique to John’s original home recording, maintaining the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.
During the short film, Paul explained that within minutes John’s voice rang through the room, crystal clear, as if he was there in person.
In 2022, Paul and Ringo began completing the song.
In addition to John’s vocals, ‘Now And Then’ features electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by George, Ringo’s new drum part, and bass, guitar and piano by Paul, matching John’s original playing.
Paul added a slide guitar solo inspired by George, and he and Ringo also contributed background vocals to the chorus.
In Los Angeles, Paul oversaw a Capitol Studios recording session for the song’s wistful, quintessential Beatles string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, Paul and Ben Foster.
Paul and Giles added one final, wonderfully subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of ‘Here, There And Everywhere’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Because’.
They were woven into the new song using the techniques perfected during the making of the LOVE show and album.
The completed song was produced by Paul and Giles, and mixed by Spike Stent.
Paul said, “There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a real Beatles recording.
“To still be working on Beatles music in 2023 and about to release a new song that the public hasn’t heard yet, it’s exciting to me.”
News of the final track was announced earlier this summer, but it has now been confirmed that it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills’ radio show on BBC R2 at 2pm.
It will also be available on a newly mastered version of the band’s Red And Blue album, due out on November 10.
Release: News of the final track was announced earlier this summer, but it has now been confirmed that it will be released on November 2, premiering on Scott Mills’ radio show on BBC R2 at 2pm.
The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York on February 9, 1964
Expanded versions of the Beatles compilations 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 will be released later this month.
Now And Then, despite being released much later than 1970, will be added to the latter collection.
The surviving Beatles have skillfully released new projects, such as remixes of their old albums with studio outtakes and Jackson’s albums. Get Back movietimed to appeal to nostalgic fans around the holidays.
But this will be the last.
“This is the last song ever where you get the four Beatles on the song. John, Paul, George and Ringo,” the latter said in one recent interview with Associated Press.