Sixty years after the onset of Beatlemania and with two of the quartet now dead, artificial intelligence has enabled the release next week of what is promised to be the last “new” Beatles song.
The track, called “Now And Then,” will be available Thursday, Nov. 2, as part of a single paired with “Love Me Do,” the very first Beatles single that came out in 1962 in England, it was announced Thursday.
“Now And Then” comes from the same batch of unreleased demos written by the late John Lennon, which were taken by his former bandmates to construct the songs “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love,” released in the mid-1990s.
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison worked on “Now And Then” in the same sessions, but technological limitations stood in the way.
With the help of artificial intelligence, director Peter Jackson cleared those problems up by “separating” Lennon’s original vocals from a piano used in the late 1970s. The much clearer vocals allowed McCartney and Starr to complete the track last year.
The survivors packed plenty into it. The new single contains guitar that Harrison had recorded nearly three decades ago, a new drum part by Starr, with McCartney’s bass, piano and a slide guitar solo he added as a tribute to Harrison, who died in 2001. McCartney and Starr sang backup.
McCartney also added a string arrangement written with the help of Giles Martin, son of the late Beatles producer George Martin.
As if that wasn’t enough, they weaved in backing vocals from the original Beatles recordings of “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Because.”
“There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in the announcement. “It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s quite an exciting thing.”
Harrison’s widow, Olivia, said he felt in the 1990s that the technical problems made it impossible to release a song that met the band’s standards. With the improvements, “he would have wholeheartedly” joined Paul and Ringo in completing the song now if he were still alive, she said.
Next Wednesday, the day before the song’s release, a 12-minute film that tells the story of the new recording will be made public.
Later in the month, expanded versions of the Beatles’ compilations “1962-1966” and “1967-1970” will be released. “Now And Then,” despite coming much later than 1970, will be added to the latter collection.
The surviving Beatles have skillfully released new projects, like remixes of their old albums that include studio outtakes and Jackson’s “Get Back” film, usually timed to appeal to nostalgic fans around the holiday season.
This year, it’s the grand finale of new music.
“This is the last track, ever, that you’ll get the four Beatles on the track. John, Paul, George, and Ringo,” Starr said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
David Bauder, The Associated Press