JOHN CURLEY AND JAKE SKORHEIM

John and Shari: New AI assisted Beatles song is a ‘beautiful thing’

Nov 3, 2023, 12:24 PM

FILE -The Beatles, foreground from left, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Sta...

FILE -The Beatles, foreground from left, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr on drums perform on the CBS "Ed Sullivan Show" in New York on Feb. 9, 1964. Sixty years after the onset of Beatlemania and with two of the quartet now dead, artificial intelligence has enabled the release of a “new” Beatles song.“Now And Then,” will be available Thursday, Nov. 2. (AP Photo/File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/File)

Despite the death of John Lennon more then 40 years ago, his voice can still be heard on a newly released Beatles song thanks to the help of AI.

The four-minute and eight-second track, “Now and Then,” is part of a collection of unreleased demos from the band. It is the first song the band has released off of the unreleased demos since the 1990s.

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On The John Curley and Shari Elliker Show, host John Curley talked to his friend and “Forever Beatles Freak” Mike West about the new song, and frankly, he is a fan.

“I love it. I mean, the demo was actually released in bootleg fashion many years ago,” West said. “So many Beatle freaks have heard it illegally, but the technology that was used to separate John’s voice from the piano, it’s just breathtaking. It’s just amazing.”

The song was written by the band in the 70s and given to Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono. The demo was also used to construct the songs “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love,” but due to technical problems, “Now and Then” couldn’t be completed. Now all that has changed with the introduction of AI in the mix.

Using AI, the last remaining bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were able to rerecord their portion of the song and add the separate audio of Lennon’s vocals and George Harrisons’ guitar from a recording from the 90s.

When the song was first announced in June, McCartney described artificial intelligence technology as “kind of scary but exciting,” adding: “We will just have to see where that leads.”

“The rumors were that we just made it up,” Ringo Starr told The Associated Press of Lennon’s contributions to the forthcoming track in September. “Like we would do that anyway.”

While some might be skeptical about the new technology bringing back decades-old music, West said that he was excited to have a bright spot in his day with the music he loves, however he can get it.

“Everyone’s a critic, and I’ve talked to some of my friends who are old, and their curmudgeonly complaining about the new technologies. Man, I mean, I’ll take anything at this point,” West said. “With all the crap going on in the world, and we get a new Beatle song today. I mean, that’s a beautiful thing.”

You can listen to the new song “Now and Then” below:

Listen to John Curley and Shari Elliker weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

John Curley and Jake Skorheim on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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John Curley and Jake Skorheim

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John and Shari: New AI assisted Beatles song is a ‘beautiful thing’