Before his passing in 1980, John Lennon, leader of one of the most influential bands in music history, The Beatles, recorded a song titled "Now And Then." Lennon wrote and performed the track in 1977, recording it onto a single demo tape. Unfortunately, as Lennon passed three years later, the song was never finished. The other band members, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, attempted to add to the song in the mid-90s as part of The Beatles Anthology project, but it simply couldn't be done without Lennon's input. However, with the power of modern technology, the remaining members of The Beatles have managed to complete the song at last.
Today, "Now And Then" has been officially released for listening on The Beatles YouTube channel, accompanied by a short film entitled "The Beatles – Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song," also available on YouTube. In addition to the digital release on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and YouTube Music, "Now And Then" will be released physically in the form of a double-A side CD, vinyl record, and cassette tape this Friday, November 3.
How the song was finished
The primary obstacle that prevented "Now And Then" from being finished for all these years was the difficulty in separating Lennon's vocal track from the backing piano on the original demo tape. While the other band members were able to make their additions in the 90s, it didn't sound natural with Lennon's voice and the piano meshed together.
The secret weapon used to remedy this problem was an audio software system created in 2022 in part by prominent filmmaker Peter Jackson, used extensively in the documentary series "The Beatles: Get Back." This audio software used AI algorithms to read Lennon's vocal track from the demo and separate it from the backing piano to get a clear cut. Afterward, it could be properly synced up with the additions from the other members to create the finished track.
Back in June, in the face of concerns regarding the usage of Lennon's voice with AI, Sir Paul McCartney offered some clarifications on how the algorithm was actually used.
"Can't say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created," McCartney wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) profile. "It's all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings – a process which has gone on for years."