Newly AI-separated Lennon demo vocal will feature on 'the last Beatles song', says Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney and a robot
(Image credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / Getty)

Sir Paul McCartney has revealed that artificial intelligence has been used to create “the last Beatles record”, and that the track will see the light of day later this year.

Dubbing AI as a whole "an interesting thing", the 80-year-old former Beatle told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it’s “something that we’re all sort of tackling at the moment”.

Specifically, the band’s backroom team, almost certainly led by Giles Martin, has continued to use ‘AI-powered’ software to isolate parts of recordings, separating mixed recordings into their component audio parts. 

It's tech they’ve already deployed to good effect on various projects, a process most recently key to Peter Jackson’s remarkable work on Get Back, 2021’s epic documentary chronicling the Let It Be sessions, and Martin’s own painstaking remix of Revolver last year. Most strikingly, an AI-isolated Lennon track even enabled McCartney to duet with his former musical partner on I’ve Got A Feeling at Glastonbury (below).

“When Peter Jackson did the film (The Beatles) Get Back, where it was us making the Let It Be album,” McCartney said, “he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette and a piano. He could separate them with AI, he’d tell the machine ‘That’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar’".

Now, it seems, the tech will see an entirely "new" Beatles track hit the airwaves. 

“So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record,” McCartney somewhat astonishingly continued, “it was a demo that John had that we worked on and we just finished it up. It will be released this year.”

For now, that’s all we know for sure, but word on the Beatles-ology circuit is that the track is very likely to be a Lennon composition called Now and Then, from 1978. It was one of the tracks considered for the 1995 “reunion” tracks, released with 2000’s epic Anthology series. The song was one of a handful on a cassette labeled “For Paul” that Lennon made shortly before his death in 1980.

Ultimately, of those only Free As A Bird and Real Love saw the light of day, but Paul has discussed Now and Then over the years. In 2012, he said, “That one's still lingering around, so I'm going to nick in with Jeff [Lynne, who produced the Anthology “reunion” tracks] and do it. Finish it, one of these days."

As ever, we’ll keep you posted. For the full interview, in which Sir Paul also discussed his new book 1964: Eyes of the Storm, which features previously unseen photos of the fab 4, head to now.

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.

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