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The Beatles Last Song Saga Goes On: Peter Jackson Might Release More AI Beatles Songs

The director finds the idea "conceivable".

Photo by BERTRAND MORITZ / Unsplash

Though it seemed that the hype train was about to slightly fade after The Beatles' last song's release, the story gained a new plot twist. Peter Jackson, whose company's MAL software gave birth to The Beatles AI song, says he finds the idea of releasing more AI Beatles songs "conceivable."

Who wrote the Beatles song “Now and Then” and when?

The song was initially written by John Lennon and recorded as a demo back in 1977, but all four Beatles members are credited as songwriters. Unfortunately, Lennon didn't complete the track before his passing. The string arrangement on the released version was created by Paul McCartney, Giles Martin, and Ben Foster.

Originally conceived by John Lennon as a solo piece in the late 70s, "Now and Then" was never officially recorded by him for The Beatles. The sole recording of Lennon performing the song exists from a session in his New York City apartment at the Dakota Building. After Lennon's passing, Yoko Ono, his widow, shared a cassette tape containing his rendition of "Now and Then" and a demo of "Grow Old With Me" with Paul McCartney in 1994. Despite "Grow Old With Me" making its way onto Lennon's posthumous album "Milk and Honey," "Now and Then" remains unreleased as a solo track.

And now, in 2023, the song is back with Lennon’s voice as if the whole band is here again.

Following the streaming release of "Now and Then" on November 2nd, the track is made available for purchase in physical formats starting November 3rd through The Beatles' official website. Fans can acquire the record on either 7″ or 12″ vinyl, with options in black, light blue, and blue/white.

On November 3rd, "Now and Then" had also saw a release on CD and cassette formats.

How was the new Beatles song ‘Now and Then’ created?

In 1995, The Beatles initially attempted to record "Now and Then," but technological limitations hindered them from achieving the desired standard for the track. It wasn't until the creation of a software called MAL (Machine-Assisted Learning), an homage to former Beatles roadie Mal Evans, by Peter Jackson during the making of the documentary "Get Back" that they found a solution.

The MAL software played a crucial role in cleaning up John Lennon's vocals, enabling The Beatles to finally complete "Now and Then." Jackson elaborated on the process in a documentary about the song, stating, "During the course of Get Back, we were paying a lot of attention to the technical restoration, which ultimately led us to develop a technology that allows us to take any soundtrack and split all the different components into separate tracks."

The song features the real voice of John Lennon; it’s not AI-generated—the vocals were merely isolated from the original demo.

George Harrison died in 2001. Who plays guitar on the Beatles’ new song?

In the documentary titled "Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song," Paul McCartney disclosed that he recorded the slide guitar segment audible in the track. McCartney wanted to capture George Harrison's unique musical style in the song "Now and Then" and considered it a "tribute to George." Although both McCartney and Harrison played the guitar parts together, the overall feel of Harrison's musical influence remains strong in the song.

Are more AI Beatles songs to come?

As Peter Jackson told The Sunday Times when he was asked whether more Beatles final songs might soon appear, "It did cross my mind!"

He then added, "We can take a performance from 'Get Back,' separate John and George [Harrison], and then have Paul [McCartney] and Ringo [Starr] add a chorus or harmonies. You might end up with a decent song but I haven’t had conversations with Paul about that. It’s fanboy stuff, but certainly conceivable."