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More from year 2023
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On August 25, 2023, The Beatles’ social media accounts published a teaser picture of an orange and white cassette tape, hinting at an announcement the following day. This announcement had been widely anticipated.
On June 13, 2023, during a promotional interview for his photography book “1964: Eyes Of The Storm” with BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney, Paul McCartney revealed that a new Beatles song would be released before the end of the year, utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology. He referenced Peter Jackson’s use of AI in the 2021 TV series “The Beatles: Get Back.”
What do you think about efforts that are being made through technology, through artificial intelligence, to recreate the early Beatles, making your voice sound younger [and] bringing those voices back from the grave?
Well, it’s a very interesting thing, you know. It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with. What does it mean, you know? I don’t hear that much because I’m not on the internet that much. But people say to me, “Oh, yeah, there’s a track where John’s singing one of my songs.” And it isn’t, it’s just AI, you know. So all of that is kind of scary, but exciting because it’s the future.
We were able to use that kind of thing when Peter Jackson did the film Get Back where it was us making the Let It Be album, and he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette where it had John’s voice and a piano. He can separate them with AI. They tell the machine “That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.” And he did that, so it has great uses.
So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record — it was a demo that John had, that we worked on and we just finished it up and it’ll be released this year — we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI, so that then we could mix the record as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway. So there’s a good side to it and then a scary side, and we’ll just have to see where that leads.Paul McCartney – Radio interview for BBC Radio 4, June 13, 2023
Everyone speculated that the song to be released was “Now And Then,” a demo by John Lennon that was considered for the Anthology sessions in 1995 as the third new Beatles track to be released as part of that project.
Paul’s comments were misinterpreted, with many believing that AI would be used to fake John’s voice. Ringo Starr and Sean Lennon both clarified that the technology would only be used to isolate John’s voice from the demo tape and remove noise.
Tony Rosamilia: Why is Paul McCartney turning John Lennon into an AI model for an “unreleased” song based on demo tapes?? Are you OK with this? Did you reach out??
Seán Ono Lennon: That is not happening. All we did was clean the noise from the vocal track. People are completely misunderstanding what occurred. There have always been ways of ‘de-noising’ tracks but AI just does it better because it learns what the vocal is and is able to very precisely remove everything that is not the vocal.
Anne-Marie: I’ve no interest in a “fake” Beatles song
I think people are deeply misunderstanding this story. The AI did nothing but clean the noise off my dad’s vocal track. That’s all. Nothing else. The song was a demo dad had recorded and the other Beatles finished it off. Exactly like “Free AsA Bird”, only the original vocal was a bit dirtier on this one so they cleaned up the noise with AI. There’s nothing fake about it. It is a new recording made by all four Beatles. My dad’s voice is exactly as he recorded it minus the noise.Sean Lennon – From Twitter, June 17, 2023
It’s not down to AI. It’s not like we’re pretending anything. That is actually John’s voice, Paul’s voice and bass playing, George on rhythm guitar and me on drums. And the two things that are new are Paul’s bass and me on drums. … I really worked at it just months ago here. And it works. It’s a beautiful song. You know, for all the madness going on around it, it’s still a beautiful track. And our last track.Ringo Starr – From Ringo Starr Talks New Beatles Track, Turning 83 at Birthday Gathering – Variety, July 7, 2023
I liken it to baking a cake and then realizing that you want the ingredients back. And so you have to separate the flour, the milk, the eggs, the sugar, and you end up with the source materials. If you imagine recording yourself on a [telephone answering machine], and having a dog bark in the background, and then you’re thinking, ‘How do I get rid of that dog?,’ a computer [can] work out there’s a dog sound, and that dog will be removed. So it’s removing audio [from a single complex track and placing each instrument and voice on separate tracks], and that means that when I come to mixing, which is where you’re choosing the levels of different [instruments and voices], I have control over those in a sound field.Giles Martin – From The Last Beatles Song (and Other News) | Stereophile.com, October 26, 2023
In late July, Penn Jillette, an American magician, released a podcast episode in which he revealed that he had exclusive access to “Now And Then” through Giles Martin, the Beatles’ producer. He also revealed that Martin was working on remastering the Beatles compilations “1962-1966” (Red Album) and “1967-1970” (Blue Album).
There was a recording. The last recording that Paul McCartney did not make money off. There was John Lennon playing piano and singing while watching TV. The TV is loud and John is playing the piano and singing. Paul had this in the 80s [sic – 90s] when they were doing all Anthology stuff and Paul got every engineer in the world to try and take out the TV and they all tried and they all failed. Gilessaid to the people on ‘Get Back’ “can you take out the TV on this?” and they said “yeah” and sent them John Lennon from three mics, voice and the TV all separate. So they now have a verse and chorus of John Lennon. In the 80s [sic – 90s] Paul played the track to George and George played some guitar over it so they have that. […] ‘Now and Then’ will also feature a chord from an outtake of ‘Because’. “They took that chord, changed the key.Penn Jillette
Insiders expected an announcement for the release of “Now And Then” and the reissues of the Red and Blue albums in late August. However, this announcement never came, and according to the same insiders, it was postponed at the last minute. This was indirectly confirmed by Ringo Starr in a late September interview, when he said that “[Now And Then] should have been out already. So it’s coming out when they decide it’s coming out. I’ve done my part!“
The announcement finally came on October 26, with the following highlights:
- New Beatles song “Now And Then” to be released worldwide on Thursday, November 2.
- The song is a double A-side single with the band’s 1962 debut UK single, “Love Me Do.”
- Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos, and the release features original cover art by renowned artist Ed Ruscha (who designed the “McCartney III” sleeve).
- A 12-minute documentary film, “Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song,” will debut on November 1.
- The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (‘The Red Album’) and 1967-1970 (‘The Blue Album’) collections will be released in 2023 Edition packages on November 10.
- Both collections’ tracklists have been expanded, with all the songs mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos.
From TheBeatles.com, October 26, 2023:
“NOW AND THEN” TO BE RELEASED WORLDWIDE
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2 AT 2PM GMT / 10AM EDT / 7AM PDT
THE BEATLES’ 1962-1966 (‘THE RED ALBUM’) AND 1967-1970 (‘THE BLUE ALBUM’) COLLECTIONS EXPANDED, MIXED IN STEREO & DOLBY ATMOS FOR 2023 EDITION RELEASES OUT NOVEMBER 10
London – October 26, 2023 – Together and apart, The Beatles have always had a talent for the unexpected. And now, 2023 brings one of the most anticipated releases of their long and endlessly eventful history. “Now And Then” is the last Beatles song – written and sung by John Lennon, developed and worked on by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, and now finally finished by Paul and Ringo over four decades later.
“Now And Then” will be released worldwide at 2pm GMT / 10am EDT / 7am PDT on Thursday, November 2 by Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe. The double A-side single pairs the last Beatles song with the first: the band’s 1962 debut UK single, “Love Me Do,” a truly fitting full-circle counterpart to “Now And Then.” Both songs are mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos, and the release features original cover art by renowned artist Ed Ruscha. The new music video for “Now And Then” will debut on Friday, November 3. More details including global premiere plans will be announced.
A 12-minute “Now And Then – The Last Beatles Song” documentary film, written and directed by Oliver Murray, will debut on November 1. The film’s global online premiere will be hosted on The Beatles’ YouTube channel at 7:30pm GMT / 3:30pm EDT / 12:30pm PDT. This poignant short film tells the story behind the last Beatles song, with exclusive footage and commentary from Paul, Ringo, George, Sean Ono Lennon and Peter Jackson.
THE BEATLES’ 1962-1966 (‘THE RED ALBUM’) AND 1967-1970 (‘THE BLUE ALBUM’) COLLECTIONS EXPANDED, MIXED IN STEREO & DOLBY ATMOS FOR 2023 EDITION RELEASES OUT NOVEMBER 10
On November 10, The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (‘The Red Album’) and 1967-1970 (‘The Blue Album’) collections will be released in 2023 Edition packages by Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe.
Since their first incarnations appeared 50 years ago, these albums have introduced successive generations to The Beatles’ music. Now, both collections’ tracklists have been expanded, with all the songs mixed in stereo and Dolby Atmos. New 4CD and 180-gram 6LP vinyl collections pair ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ in slipcased sets. The UK single version of “Love Me Do” now kicks off 1962-1966 (2023 Edition) and “Now And Then” is featured on 1967-1970 (2023 Edition) to complete the career-spanning collections.
The story of “Now And Then” begins in the late 1970s, when John recorded a demo with vocals and piano at his home in New York’s Dakota Building. In 1994, his wife, Yoko Ono Lennon, gave the recording to Paul, George and Ringo, along with John’s demos for “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” which were both completed as new Beatles songs and respectively released as singles in 1995 and 1996, as part of The Beatles Anthology project. At the same time, Paul, George and Ringo also recorded new parts and completed a rough mix for “Now And Then” with producer Jeff Lynne. At that point, technological limitations prevented John’s vocals and piano from being separated to achieve the clear, unclouded mix needed to finish the song. “Now And Then” was shelved, with a hope that one day it would be revisited.
Cut to 2021, and the release of “The Beatles: Get Back” docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, which astonished viewers with its award-winning film and audio restoration. Using WingNut Films’ MAL audio technology, Jackson’s team had de-mixed the film’s mono soundtrack, managing to isolate instruments and vocals, and all the individual voices within The Beatles’ conversations. This achievement opened the way to 2022’s new mix of Revolver, sourced directly from the four-track master tapes. This led on to a question: what could now be done with the “Now And Then” demo? Peter Jackson and his sound team, led by Emile de la Rey, applied the same technique to John’s original home recording, preserving the clarity and integrity of his original vocal performance by separating it from the piano.
In 2022, Paul and Ringo set about completing the song. Besides John’s vocal, “Now And Then” includes electric and acoustic guitar recorded in 1995 by George, Ringo’s new drum part, and bass, guitar and piano from Paul, which matches John’s original playing. Paul added a slide guitar solo inspired by George; he and Ringo also contributed backing vocals to the chorus.
In Los Angeles, Paul oversaw a Capitol Studios recording session for the song’s wistful, quintessentially Beatles string arrangement, written by Giles Martin, Paul and Ben Foster. Paul and Giles also added one last, wonderfully subtle touch: backing vocals from the original recordings of “Here, There And Everywhere,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Because,” woven into the new song using the techniques perfected during the making of the LOVE show and album. The finished track was produced by Paul and Giles, and mixed by Spike Stent.
Paul says: “There it was, John’s voice, crystal clear. It’s quite emotional. And we all play on it, it’s a genuine Beatles recording. In 2023 to still be working on Beatles music, and about to release a new song the public haven’t heard, I think it’s an exciting thing.”
Ringo says: “It was the closest we’ll ever come to having him back in the room, so it was very emotional for all of us. It was like John was there, you know. It’s far out.”
Olivia Harrison says: “Back in 1995, after several days in the studio working on the track, George felt the technical issues with the demo were insurmountable and concluded that it was not possible to finish the track to a high enough standard. If he were here today, Dhani and I know he would have whole-heartedly joined Paul and Ringo in completing the recording of ‘Now And Then.’”
Sean Ono Lennon says: “It was incredibly touching to hear them working together after all the years that Dad had been gone. It’s the last song my dad, Paul, George and Ringo got to make together. It’s like a time capsule and all feels very meant to be.”
Excitement and anticipation for “Now And Then” has been building since June, when Paul first teased “a new Beatles song” in a media interview. Finally, on Thursday, November 2, “Now And Then” will be shared with the world as it was always meant to be heard.
This last installment of The Beatles’ recorded history will be followed by new editions of the two compilation albums always seen as the definitive introduction to their work. Since their 1973 debuts, 1962-1966 (‘The Red Album’) and 1967-1970 (‘The Blue Album’) have ushered countless listeners of all ages, from all parts of the world, into lifelong Beatles fandom. Expanded for their new 2023 Edition releases, the collections together span The Beatles’ entire recorded canon with 75 standout tracks, from their first single, “Love Me Do,” to their last, “Now And Then.” The collections’ 21 newly-added tracks (twelve on ‘Red’ and nine on ‘Blue’) showcase even more of The Beatles’ very best songs.
In recent years, several 1967-1970 tracks and a few from 1962-1966 have received new stereo and Dolby Atmos mixes for The Beatles’ Special Edition album releases, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017), The Beatles (‘White Album’) (2018), Abbey Road (2019), Let It Be (2021), and Revolver (2022), as well as new stereo mixes for The Beatles’ 1 (2015). All tracks not also featured on those releases have been newly mixed in stereo and/or Dolby Atmos by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios, aided by WingNut Films’ audio de-mixing technology. Both collections include new essays written by journalist and author John Harris.
“Now And Then” Credits:
Produced by Paul McCartney, Giles Martin
Additional Production: Jeff Lynne
Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Backing Vocals: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Guitars: George Harrison
Guitars, Bass, Piano, Electric Harpsichord, Shaker: Paul McCartney
Drums, Tambourine, Shaker: Ringo Starr
String Arrangement: Paul McCartney, Giles Martin, Ben Foster
Mixed by Spike Stent
Engineered by Geoff Emerick, Steve Orchard, Greg McAllister, Jon Jacobs, Steve Genewick, Bruce Sugar, Keith Smith
Source Separation / MAL Courtesy of WingNut Films Productions Ltd.
Head of Machine Learning: Emile de la Rey
Project Management: Adam Sharp
Recorded at Hog Hill Studio, Capitol Studios and Roccabella West
Mastered by Miles Showell
Project Producers: Jonathan Clyde and Guy Hayden
Executive Producer: Jeff Jones
From Building The Last Beatles Song – Mixonline, October 26, 2023:
[…] The new tune, played for the press at a top-secret listening event at Dolby’s NYC headquarters in late September, is vintage Lennon, sporting a simple, melancholy verse melody on piano that is instantly unforgettable, eventually leading into a thick, chewy chorus that may not match the verse for sheer magnificence, but which fits comfortably into the Beatles’ oeuvre all the same. […] Despite the track being built from elements recorded on a variety of formats over the course of nearly 60 years, “Now and Then” gels together surprisingly well—enough so that the credits for the tune are likely more complicated than the song itself. […] As for the use of WingNut Films’ MAL technology on other recordings in the Beatles’ archives, it was noted at the press event that there are no current plans to re-extract Lennon’s vocals and remix “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” but it was also cryptically offered that the massive Anthology project—which begat a TV series, eight-volume VHS and 5-volume DVD sets, a book and three multi-CD sets—will reappear, making revised tracks derived from the Lennon cassette seemingly inevitable.
From nme.com, October 26, 2023:
The Beatles are continuing to tease their upcoming “final song” by launching projections across their hometown of Liverpool. […] A series of projections have popped up around Liverpool overnight, leading fans to believe that the new single is just around the corner.
In these projections, an orange and white cassette tape with the tape reel winding is seen, and the bottom left corner of the tape reads “Type I (Normal) Position”. There also appears to be words on the bottom right corner of the tape that are intentionally blurred out.
Overnight, the new displays appeared around The Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool – particularly in areas synonymous with the band’s discography.
These include outside the grounds of the Strawberry Fields – most famously recognised for the McCartney and Lennon-written track ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ – as well as next to the road sign for Penny Lane, which is also the name of a Beatles track released around the same time.
Other locations where the new display appeared included outside the childhood home of late member John Lennon, projected across the fence in front of the house, and on the wall next to the Sgt. Pepper Bistro in the city – relating to the band’s eighth studio album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.
Two projections were also seen outside the iconic Cavern Club, where the band played over 200 times. This included one larger projection on the wall next to the venue, and a smaller one next to the statue of John Lennon that is displayed outside. Find more images of the projections below.
The photo of the cassette which has been used throughout all of the displays was first shared with fans yesterday (October 25) in a cryptic post the band shared on social media.
From BBC News, October 26, 2023:
[…] To tie in with all of this, the BBC has announced a new six-part podcast on the story of the Liverpool-born group. The first five parts arrived on Thursday, including a recently re-discovered interview from 1964 which has not been heard since.
The final part will come out on 2 November, along with the record, and will include exclusive interviews with Sir Paul and Sir Ringo Starr – the two remaining Beatles – about the new material.
Last updated on November 3, 2023