The Beatles get by with a little help from AI with new song

14 June 2023

Guitar and amplifier, image by Firmbee

Image courtesy of Firmbee.

With emphasis on the word little. Recent comments made by Sir Paul McCartney, bass player and co-songwriter of defunct 1960s British music act the Beatles, that AI has brought about a “new” song by the band, are perhaps a tad misconstrued. AI technology has indeed assisted in the production of a previously unreleased Beatles song, but application of the technology was somewhat limited.

In 1978 John Lennon, late Beatles guitarist and co-songwriter, recorded a number of demo songs in his New York home, using a portable audio cassette player, variously called a boombox or ghettoblaster. In 1995, when the remaining members of the Beatles were preparing to release the Beatles Anthology, they considered using Lennon’s demo songs as a basis for some new Beatles tracks. This resulted in the inclusion of two songs, Real Love, and Free as a Bird, in the Anthology set.

Starr, Harrison, and McCartney also wanted to include a third track from Lennon’s demo tape, called Now And Then, but there was a problem: the quality of Lennon’s vocals on the recording wasn’t the greatest. Despite their best efforts to tidy up the singing, the group — George Harrison in particular — wasn’t happy with the result. So the idea was shelved.

AI technology however has recently been able to extract Lennon’s vocals from his forty-five year old demo recording, and elevate the quality to a level McCartney and Starr, the surviving band members, are satisfied with. But that was the limit of AI’s part in bringing about this new — and according to McCartney — final Beatles song. The song, and it’s still not certain that it is Now And Then — though Beatles pundits believe it is — is expected to be released later in 2023.

Unless there are other forgotten, or lost, demo tapes made by Beatles members, lying undiscovered somewhere, it is to be hoped whatever track is eventually released, is indeed the last “new” material we hear from the old Liverpool musicians. I say that as I have the concern AI will surely manufacture additional, unauthorised, tracks that mimic the sound and style of the Fab Four, and be passed off as “newly discovered” lost recordings made by the band, by unscrupulous parties.


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