Paul McCartney Uses AI to Revive John Lennon's Voice for Upcoming 'Final Beatles Song'


After John Lennon’s death in 1980, his former Beatles bandmate and songwriting partner Paul McCartney received a cassette tape that Lennon had labeled “For Paul.”

It was a demo tape with several songs, including an unfinished love song called “Now and Then.”

“Lo-fi and embryonic, the tracks were largely recorded onto a boombox as the musician sat at a piano in his New York apartment,” the BBC reported.

For decades, McCartney had wanted to do something with the song, but the technology just didn’t exist to pull it off.

But now, more than 40 years after Lennon’s death, McCartney — now known as Sir Paul McCartney — has employed AI technology  to bring Lennon — or his voice, anyway — back into the studio for a do-over to create what he’s calling “the final Beatles record.”

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It’s widely believed that that recording will be “Now and Then.”

Peter Jackson’s 2021 Beatles documentary, “Get Back” was the catalyst for the new recording, the BBC reported.

“Dialogue editor Emile de la Rey trained computers to [recognize] the Beatles’ voices and separate them from background noises, and even their own instruments, to create ‘clean’ audio,” according to the report.

“He [Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney told BBC’s Martha Kearney.

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“We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s a voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’

“[W]e were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. It gives you some sort of leeway.”

The new-old song will be released this year, McCartney said.

The rock pioneer said he is all in favor of using artificial intelligence in music applications. In fact, he used a similar process last year at the Glastonbury Festival to sing a “duet” with Lennon, according to ABC.

“There’s a good side to it, and then a scary side,” McCartney told Kearney. “We’ll just have to see where that leads.”

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McCartney appeared on the show to talk about his new book, “Eyes of the Storm,” which features more than 250 pictures he shot of his fellow Beatles bandmates at the start of the band’s rise to fame in the early 1960s.

A photo exhibition by the same name will open later this month at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.