A new Beatles song, produced with some help from artificial intelligence (AI) to include John Lennon's voice, will be released this Thursday more than four decades after being recorded on a demo.
"Now and Then", first written and sung by Lennon in 1978, was completed by his colleagues Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and also by the AI.
The song will be released at 2:00 p.m. GMT by Apple Corps, Capitol and Universal Music Enterprises. A video clip will be released on Friday.
McCartney, 81, announced the song's release in June in a promotional video that called it "the last Beatles song."
«It's quite emotional and we all play in it. "It's a genuine Beatles recording," she said in a video on YouTube before the song was released.
"Now and then" was one of the songs on a cassette that Lennon had recorded for McCartney in his New York home in the Dakota building in 1979, a year before he was murdered.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, gave it to McCartney in 1994.
The other two songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", were arranged by producer Jeff Lynne and released in 1995 and 1996.
The same was attempted with "Now and Then", but the project was abandoned due to the background noise of the model.
– «As if John were there» –
Now it has been possible thanks to AI, whose use generates debate in the music industry, where some denounce possible violations of copyright and others praise its exploits.
After processing the recording with this new technology, "there it was, John's voice, crystal clear," McCartney explained.
The two living Beatles finished "Now and Then" last year, including the acoustic and electric guitar part that George Harrison had recorded in 1995.
At Capitol Studios in Los Angeles they added backing vocals, Starr's drums and bass, piano and a McCartney guitar solo inspired by Harrison's style.
The 83-year-old percussionist said the process "is the closest we will get to having him (Lennon) back in the room and it was very emotional for all of us."
«It was like John was there. “It was fantastic,” he declared.
– “The Last One” by the Beatles –
Sean Ono Lennon, John and Yoko's son, said it was "incredibly moving" to hear the Beatles work together again "after all these years that my father is gone."
«It is the last song that my father, Paul, George and Ringo have done together. It's like a time capsule and everything is very meaningful to me," he confessed.
The Liverpool quartet broke up in 1970. They all began solo careers and never got back together.
McCartney said that at first he agonized over whether to finish the song or leave it unfinished.
«Every time I thought about this I said to myself: 'Wait a minute, let's say I have the opportunity to ask John' (…) I'm telling you. “I know the answer would have been yes,” she explained.
Lennon was murdered in front of his building in New York in 1980, when he was 40 years old. Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001, aged 68.
"Now and then" will be released as a double A-side, featuring the band's 1962 debut single "Love Me Do" and a cover by American artist Ed Ruscha.