Yes, you read that right. Despite the band legally having broken up in 1974, despite two of its members–John Lennon and George Harrison–being deceased, the Beatles officially released their newest single, “Now and Then,” on November 3rd, 2023. According to the BBC, John Lennon wrote the song in 1978, which he recorded a demo of at his home. Artist Yoko Ono, widow to Lennon, gave the surviving Beatles the recording after Lennon’s death. The Beatles tried and failed to record a version of “Now and Then” in the ‘90s.
But it’s the year 2023, and we (I use the royal “we” to include the extremely wealthy) have artificial intelligence and other such sophisticated technology at our disposal. Using the Lennon demo, AI technology recreated the singer-songwriter’s voice, making it sound like it was recorded in the actual studio. The song was then mixed with Harrison on guitar from the ‘90s attempt and newly recorded vocals, guitar and drums from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The song, released on November 3rd 2023, is accompanied by a music video directed by Peter Jackson as a tribute to the band.
There’s no doubt that the song sounds like the Beatles. To someone unaware of how the music was recorded, it might even be indistinguishable from their earlier studio work. The song isn’t particularly complex, but its mere existence gets the emotions welling up for all of us Beatles fans, and it sure is something special to hear McCartney and Lennon singing together again.