On Nov. 2, The Beatles did something unheard of when they released a new original song titled “Now and Then.” This release shocked fans worldwide, considering that the last original song they released was over 28 years ago and that there are only two surviving members of the band left. So, you may be wondering, how was this track brought to life in 2023?
There’s no doubt that this is a unique situation, but what makes this a cardinal circumstance is the method behind the song’s production. What many fans might not know about this song is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) was used to make it.
It’s important to note that two members of the Beatles have passed: John Lennon (the band’s singer, songwriter, and pianist) and George Harrison (the band’s lead guitarist). It was safe to think that because of their deaths, no new songs would ever emerge from The Beatles again. Well, weren’t we all wrong?
It all started in the ’90s, around 10 years after John Lennon’s assassination. The other three band members took an old track that Lennon had created and tried to recreate it using Lennon’s music in the background. However, the group ran into a problem when technology wasn’t good enough to really focus the sound, and “Now and Then” got shoved into a closet for the foreseeable future. Now, over 30 years later, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the surviving band members, decided to retackle the song.
With the help of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, a technology was made that could separate different parts of the song into multiple tracks. Even with this revelation, there were still a few hiccups. George Harrison was not a huge fan of the song in the first place, so finding guitar clips for the song was difficult. They settled on McCartney playing a few riffs in Harrison’s style and using some of Harrison’s old sounds from past sessions.
A new song isn’t the only thing Beatles fans have received this week. Along with the actual release of the track “Now and Then,” a YouTube short film was also made about the creation of the song. It’s truly worth the watch, if for nothing more than its sentimentality. Both McCartney and Starr admit that they were lucky to have been part of such a wonderful group and that they miss Lennon and Harrison dearly. “Now and Then” is both a tribute to them and a reflection on their history as a world-renowned band.
It is truly astounding that technology has allowed the voices and sounds of all four members to reconvene one last time. This is the closest that we’ll ever get to having The Beatles back together again. However, who’s to say that this is even their final song? We were wrong to think that they would never release a new track, but here we are — and we might just be surprised again in the future.