With only two Beatles left alive, you might think the chances of a new single emerging from the fab four would be pretty remote. But thanks to the
creepiness magic of AI, you’d apparently be wrong.
And surprisingly, rather than being a ghoulish third-party project, this actually has the blessing of the surviving members of the group. In fact, it’s thanks to them that it’s going to happen.
Paul McCartney told the BBC that AI technology had been able to lift John Lennon’s voice from “a ropey little bit of cassette” so he can appear on the track from beyond the grave.
“We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI,” McCartney said. “They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’
“So when we came 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. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway.”
Let It Be… listenable
The track in question is expected to be a song called Now and Then, which Lennon composed two years before his death in 1980. It’s one of several songs on a cassette labelled “For Paul” that Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, passed on to McCartney after her husband died.
Sound quality is not good, and while the surviving Beatles were able to get two tracks off it in 1995 — Free as a Bird and Real Love — Now and Then remained in too bad shape to use. An attempt to tidy it up was blocked by George Harrison as the sound quality of Lennon’s vocal was, apparently, “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,” McCartney told Q Magazine in 2006. “[But] George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”
Now that’s not a problem, thanks to the technology showcased in Get Back, the Peter Jackson documentary on the writing of Let It Be, which used AI to isolate voices and musical instruments to get clean audio.
In other words, it’s been a Long and Winding Road, but it’s finally Come Together and we’re nearly there. Don’t Let Me Down, Paul. (Sorry.)
Image: Nick Fewings / Unsplash