Paul McCartney Addresses ‘Confusion and Speculation’ on ‘Forthcoming Beatles Project’

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A screen grab from The Beatles: Get Back

Paul McCartney has clarified what he sees as “confusion and speculation” about the “new” Beatles song that’s coming in 2023. News of the track was initially revealed on June 13 in an interview he did with BBC Radio 4. The unnamed recording, thought to be based on a rough demo called “Now and Then” that John Lennon made in 1978, uses artificial intelligence to isolate Lennon’s vocal. The use of the technology came to light during filmmaker Peter Jackson’s extraordinary work in his recent docu-series, Get Back. On June 22, McCartney posted a comment on his social media platforms about what he now is calling “our forthcoming Beatles project.” That specific wording will, no doubt, lead to even more speculation (i.e., is it more than one song?). In the statement, he also emphasized that all four band members play on it.

“Been great to see such an exciting response to our forthcoming Beatles project,” he wrote. “No one is more excited than us to be sharing something with you later in the year. We’ve seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guess work out there. Can’t say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created. It’s all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings – a process which has gone on for years.

“We hope you love it as much as we do. More news in due course.”

For the 2021 film, Jackson and his editor were able to identify the voices of the individual Beatles members, allowing them to separate those from background noises. The same technique was put to use for McCartney’s 2022 “Got Back” tour, in which he “performed” a duet with Lennon on the song, “I’ve Got a Feeling.”

Of the new recording, McCartney told Martha Kearney of the BBC’s Today program, “[Jackson] was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette. We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine: ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’

“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, it will be released this year—we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. So then we could mix the record as you would normally do.”

Lennon recorded the rough demo of “Now and Then” in his New York City apartment. His widow, Yoko Ono, gave the cassette, labelled “For Paul,” to McCartney some time ago.

This wouldn’t be the first time that an official Beatles recording has been released. Most prominently, a pair of songs, “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love,” were issued in 1995 in conjunction with the first edition of an Anthology album and accompanying TV event.

Watch a portion of 2022’s “Got Back” tour’s opening night encore, “I’ve Got a Feeling”

McCartney was appearing on the broadcast to promote his new book of photographs that he took as the world was in the early throes of Beatlemania, 1964: Eyes of the Storm. As he and the BBC Radio host, Kearney, walked through a selection of his photos that will be on display at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, McCartney offered delightful insights into the circumstances of each photo. Full details of the exhibit, that will run from June 28 – October 1, are here.

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4 Comments so far

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 14 June, 2023, 22:42

    Despite those who disclaim this use of AI to create this, I think it’s wonderful. I mean, what’s the harm? I absolutely loved “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love.” The only problem, as I see it, and it’s not addressed here, is that it won’t actually be a “Beatles” record without George Harrison. And George’s influence was strongly heard and felt on those new songs for the Anthology. Also, there’s no mention of working on this with Jeff Lynne, whose genius was strongly felt on the new Anthology songs, as he really knew how a Beatles song should sound. It’s odd that there’s no mention of who McCartney will be working with on this. Perhaps Giles Martin? It really should be either him or Lynne.

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  2. Matt
    #2 Matt 25 June, 2023, 01:25

    Da Mack: McCartney states unequivocally that all 4 played on the song. If it’s the 3rd song from that cassette, there’s something a little off here. I remember McCartney saying that Harrison refused to do it because the song wasn’t good enough. Not the recording, the song. He said that was typically Beatles, the always had the right to do that, they held each other to high standards. Then he said he didn’t feel the same way, and maybe he’d finish it himself. Harrison could have done some work on it before he pulled out, but how ethical would it be to release something one of the group thought was substandard, and would speak out against its release if he was still here? I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more when it comes out

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  3. Batchman
    #3 Batchman 25 June, 2023, 09:47

    Left unexplained is how “all 4 Beatles” will be playing on this track. Was George part of that demo (doesn’t seem likely)? Will a snippet of George’s playing from some other song be taken and glued onto this?

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  4. Mittens
    #4 Mittens 31 August, 2023, 15:00

    Harrison recorded a backing track to NOW & THEN, but it was a ‘run through’ on Friday 11th February 1994, as verified by Jeff Lynne, and briefly again on Thursday 22nd June 1994. There was a persistent hum on Lennon’s tape, and the TV was on in the same room he was taping his vocal & playing the piano, at the same time. There was no technology in the world at that time, which could separate John’s recording from the two noises in the room.

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