The Beatles recently released John Lennon’s unfinished single Now and Then with the help of highly sophisticated AI, and Paul McCartney believes the project would have made Lennon proud.
The group has released three songs since breaking up in 1970. After Lennon was gunned down in 1980 at only 40, his widow, Yoko Ono, gave McCartney recordings of three songs Lennon had been working on; Free As a Bird, Real Love, and Now and Then. McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison released the first two in 1995 and 1996, respectively.
The final song, however, was too difficult to work with. So, the musicians tucked it away.
“On John’s demo tape, the piano was a little hard to hear,” McCartney told The Guardian. “And in those days, of course, we didn’t have the technology to do the separation … we kind of ran out of steam a bit, and time. Now and Then just languished in a cupboard.”
Peter Jackson Used His Film Magic to Bring John Lennon’s Single to Life
Recent advances in movie magic ended up bringing the project back to the table. In 2021, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson created Get Back, a docuseries about the band. During that project, Jackson was able to separate voices and instruments from old footage for special clips. When Jackson realized McCartney was sitting on recordings of Now and Then, he decided to work his magic on that as well.
McCartney and Starr got to work recording the new single, which dropped on Nov. 2. It features Lennon on vocals and Harrison, who passed away in 2021, on guitar. The surviving bandmates recorded new accompaniment.
While working on the project, McCartney worried the technology was, in a sense, ruining the song. But he thought of Lennon in those moments and realized he wouldn’t have given the musicians his blessing.
“Is it something we shouldn’t do?” McCartney recalled asking himself. “Every time I thought like that, I thought, wait a minute, let’s say I had a chance to ask John: ‘Hey John, would you like us to finish this last song of yours?’ I’m telling you, I know the answer would have been: ‘Yeah!’”
McCartney admitted that creating Now and Then turned out to be a bittersweet experience for him.
“It was hard to hold your emotions back actually. You could just get overcome,” he shared, via Gold UK. “It was the magic – it was my buddy, who’s been dead a long time, and here he was, back, and I’m working with him again.”
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