Paul McCartney Says the Beatles Have Made a Final Song by ‘Extricating’ John Lennon’s Voice With AI

The new song, possibly the Lennon-penned “Now And Then,” will debut later this year


Paul McCartney says he used artificial intelligence to help create what he calls “the final Beatles record,” and fans will get to hear the tune later this year.

McCartney told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that AI technology was used to “extricate” the late John Lennon’s voice from a demo made before his songwriting partner’s murder, and used to complete the recording.

“We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year,” Sir Paul told the program.

McCartney did not provide the name of the song. BBC speculated it could be a piece written by Lennon in 1978 called “Now And Then,” recorded two years before he was gunned down in front of his New York City apartment building.

The composition was previously considered a possible “reunion song” for the Beatles in 1995, when they were compiling the “Anthology” series, the BBC noted. It was one of several songs on a cassette labeled “For Paul,” that Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, sent to McCartney in 1994.

Lennon recorded the songs mainly onto a boombox while sitting at his piano.

Two of the pieces, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” were completed and released in 1995 and 1996, marking the Beatles’ first “new” material since their 1970 split. With producer Jeff Lynne, the band attempted to record “Now And Then,” as well, but they nixed the effort.

“It was one day – one afternoon, really – messing with it,” Lynne told the BBC. “The song had a chorus but is almost totally lacking in verses. We did the backing track, a rough go that we really didn’t finish.”

McCartney, now 80, at one point said that George Harrison refused to work on the song because the sound quality of Lennon’s vocal was “rubbish.”

“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,” the BBC quoted Sir Paul telling Q Magazine. “George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”

Harrison died in 2001. McCartney has repeatedly said he hoped to finish the song some day.

“That one’s still lingering around,” he told a BBC Four documentary on Lynne in 2012. “So I’m going to nick in with Jeff and do it. Finish it, one of these days.”

The turning point came with Peter Jackson’s 2021 “The Beatles: Get Back” documentary, the BBC said, where dialogue editor Emile de la Rey trained computers to recognize the Fab Four’s voices and separate them from background noises to clean up the audio. McCartney used the technology to “duet” with Lennon on “I’ve Got a Feeling” during his 2022 tour and for new surround sound mixes of the Beatles’ “Revolver” album to be created last year.

“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 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 said some applications of AI do worry him.

I’m not on the internet that much [but] people will say to me, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a track where John’s singing one of my songs’, and it’s just AI, you know?” he told the BBC. “It’s kind of scary but exciting, because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads.”