Paul McCartney has somewhat belatedly responded to the hysterical speculation that followed his announcement earlier this month that a “new” Beatles song has been created from a late ‘70s John Lennon demo recording with the assistance of AI.
“Been great to see such an exciting response to our forthcoming Beatles project,” he wrote on social media. “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,” he continued. “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 – Paul.”
McCartney’s initial announcement of the track during a June 12 BBC interview was relatively clear if short on details — “It was a demo that John had that we worked on, and we just finished it up, it’ll be released this year,” he said. “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.”
Due to the recent uproar around what AI might mean for the music business — and alarm from musicians that it might actually make them obsolete — many fans assumed that the announcement meant AI had been used to fabricate a Lennon song and vocal, as the anonymous artist Ghostwriter did earlier this year by creating the song “Heart on My Sleeve,” which featured false, AI-generated vocals from Drake and the Weeknd. (That song ultimately was removed from streaming services for copyright violations, even though the exact legal issues around it remain unclear.) As McCartney clarified today, that was never the case with this “new” Beatles song.
Although McCartney did not reveal the song’s title, sources say it was a demo recorded during the late 1970s that Lennon’s widow Yoko had sent to the surviving Beatles in the 1990s while they were preparing material for their “Anthology” albums and videos. While the bandmembers and producer Jeff Lynne created two other songs from Lennon demos from the same era — “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” both of which were released on the “Anthology” series — and worked on the “new” song, ultimately it was not considered suitable for release, particularly by George Harrison, one source said. However, Harrison, who died in 2001, did play on the forthcoming recording.
Whether that was due to the sound quality of the recording or the song itself is unclear, but McCartney clearly feels that using a similar version of the AI technology that director Peter Jackson used to isolate and clean up voices in the 2021 “Get Back” documentary taken from 1969 film footage — in which conversations previously obscured by background noise or other voices could be isolated — renders the song suitable for release. That technology was also used on the latest expanded reissue in the Beatles’ catalog, the 1966 classic “Revolver.”
However, neither the new song nor “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” can be considered “lost” Beatles tracks — they’re songs Lennon recorded and apparently wrote in the late 1970s, many years after the group had broken up — nor do many fans feel they’re up to the standards set by the group during its career. The Beatles split up in the fall of 1969 but did not announce the news until the following spring.
In the BBC interview, McCartney called AI “a very interesting thing,” adding, “It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment and trying to deal with. What it means? I don’t hear that much because I’m not on the internet that much, but people will say to me, ‘Oh, there’s a track where John is singing one of my songs.’ And it isn’t. It’s just AI All of that is kind of scary, but exciting because it’s the future.”