Paul McCartney sets the record straight on AI-'extricated' Lennon vocal in "last Beatles song": “nothing has been artificially or synthetically created”

Paul McCartney and John Lennon
(Image credit: Bettmann / Getty)

Paul McCartney has taken to social media to calm the fears of some fans, who seem to have misunderstood his earlier revelation that AI has had a hand in the creation of a forthcoming 'new' Beatles track - the band's last, according to Macca.

Some less knowledgable fans - not you, obviously - had assumed that AI would be used to model Lennon's voice, AI cover-song style. The reality is, of course, less alarming, as McCartney clarified, writing, "We’ve seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guesswork out there". 

We cleaned up some existing recordings - a process which has gone on for years

Paul McCartney

"Can’t say too much at this stage", McCartney continues, "but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created. It’s all real and we all play on it. 

"We cleaned up some existing recordings - a process which has gone on for years. We hope you love it as much as we do."

The kerfuffle stems (no pun intended) from McCartney's somewhat out-of-the-blue announcement of the forthcoming Beatles release during an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme last week when he said "When Peter Jackson did the film, where it was us making the Let It Be album, 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’".

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

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The track in question is believed to be based on Lennon's previously-scratchy 1978 demo of Now and Then, which was a candidate for reworking during the Beatles Anthology release in 2000, but ultimately rejected, most likely because of the then-unsalvagable quality of the recording. 

Ultimately, Free As A Bird and Real Love saw the light of day then, 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."

Speaking to Q Magazine in 1997, McCartney also said that the song had been rejected because George Harrison had called it, in typically forthright fashion, “fucking 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 said then. “George didn’t like it. The Beatles being a democracy, we didn’t do it.”

Thanks to the internet, you can hear the demo version of Now and Then below.

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.