Paul McCartney has said that artificial intelligence has allowed him to create a “final” song by The Beatles, which will be released later this year.
The music icon teased the prospect during a new interview with Radio 4’s Today Programme and explained how AI technology has enabled him to “extricate” the vocals of John Lennon from an old demo in order to complete the song.
Though McCartney did not mention the song by name, it is believed that the track will be one developed by Lennon in 1978 called ‘Now And Then’.
According to the BBC, McCartney first received the demo from Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono in 1994, after it featured on a cassette that Lennon made before his death entitled ‘For Paul’.
It was thought that the song could feature on the band’s definitive ‘Anthology’ series in 1995, though this idea was later abandoned.
The series, masterminded by ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne, instead featured the tracks ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’.
Lynne previously spoke of how the significant work needed to restore ‘Now And Then’ was the reason why it did not feature.
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,” he recalled.
While George Harrison’s apparent displeasure at the idea also contributed to the decision not to release it, it’s thought that Paul’s desire to work on it was reignited by the release of Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, which saw dialogue editor Emile de la Rey employing modern technology to distinguish each member’s voice.
“He [Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney said during the new interview.
“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,’” he explained.
“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.”
“We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year,” he added.
McCartney additionally explained: “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?
“It’s kind of scary but exciting, because it’s the future. We’ll just have to see where that leads.”
It comes after McCartney’s latest tour saw him take advantage of some digital trickery from Peter Jackson to give the impression he has been reunited with the late John Lennon to duet on ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’.
McCartney was speaking to mark a new National Portrait Gallery exhibition of unseen photos of The Beatles that he shot at the height of their fame. Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm, will run from June 28-October 1. Taken on a Pentax camera, they capture the band members and their surroundings while they were on tour during this period of time, taking in locations such as including New York, London, Washington, Miami, Paris and the band’s native Liverpool.
An accompanying photobook, titled 1964: Eyes Of The Storm, is released today via Penguin Press, to coincide with McCartney’s 81st birthday.