A story about a barista who loves The Beatles, a "new" song from the Fab Four, and strong feelings about artificial intelligence
The more I hear it, the more I like it. Makes me sad, especially the Peter Jackson music video. The AI origin, ironically, comes from something Paul said about them using AI to make a new Beatles song a year or so ago. The problem is, I think he meant ‘machine learning technology that separates the piano from the voice’ but people heard ‘fake Lennon vocals.’ It’s AI like spellcheck is AI, but not AI like ChatGPT.
I like the new Beatles song, mostly because I saw that short docu about how it was created first - I just think it’s cool that they could get Lennon’s vocals clear off that old tape! Bill & Ted however will not be able to get their shit together without something bringing George Carlin back to help them, so maybe AI could help with that too. (Love the B&T references, as one of the kids who was an extra in the film, I’ll always hold out hope for that excellent utopia!! ;)
Like anything, I think there is good and bad here. Given that Paul McCartney and Ringo can do whatever the fuck they want and can't spend all of the money they already have, I find it hard to believe they did this for money.
I think they just wanted to give the world another Beatles' song. And it's fine song IMHO, if not exactly classic Beatles.
My problem with it is how it fits into the rest of our pop culture which so often does give us the exact same thing over and over and over -- yes, I'm looking at you Marvel -- in order to make a buck. That's the cynical part that depresses the crap out of me.
Not liking The Beatles is like not liking the sun.
I enjoyed reading this, thank you.
The Beatles. Are. Great. They were good individually but the sum of the parts is so much great than the whole. So was Pink Floyd although Gilmore kept the sounds alive without Roger. The Stones are outstanding but the percentage of their music I like isn’t nearly as high as the boys.
As far as Now and Then, well…it basically sucks. I mean, it’s not a good song and it is weird. Your barista is right to feel the way she does and much be pretty cool.
Where is question #6? Is that the one that asks what one band would you want to have on a deserted island?
I like the Beatles but I haven't listened to the song. I'm open-minded to the idea of the song, but I feel like they shouldn't have done it. Life is random. Things end. Scarcity and chance make life meaningful.
I like it. I'm particularly enjoying the remastered versions of their early songs that are using the same MAL to separate old recordings that had all instruments in one track and voices in the other. I appreciate the candor of the barista and even though this may hit us right in the nostalgia and make a piles of money in the process, well, that's capitalism, baby! Deal with it. Obviously, we will all find something to complain about at some point.
Important question, did you get a breakfast burrito? Also, what's your go to coffee order?
Michael, I was listening to this when I clicked to open your email:
I'm still working my way through it, up to Lady Madonna now as I type this.
The Beatles turned my world upside down 40 years ago. I'm still catching my breath at how amazing they are.
But they deliberately didn't record a bunch of songs, and while they have an utterly impressive body of work (huge, too!), it's just as important what they left out as what they chose to leave in.
AI isn't our enemy here as much as the music industry, IMO.
Yes, I was born in the 1950s and I liked The Beatles at the time. I remember hearing about the movie Let It Be. I went to see it in its first run by myself. I’m pretty sure I knew they were breaking up. It was truely an uplifting film for me. Of course, I was still 3 years away from draft age.
Now and Then is too down to be a great song from the band, but it is reminiscent of a John Lennon song. I enjoyed the Peter Jackson documentary. It was warming to see the backstory of the Let It Be film. think it’s great that we can process old audio to capture voice buried in the noise. But I didn’t think Now And Then added anything to The Beatles. I’m sure over the next decade well mine more of the recent history with the technology. Get ready for more recovery of band’s demo tapes.
I was too old for Bill and Ted, but if anyone can save the world, it would be them. Good Luck with that.
Baristas must be encouraged to interact with customers. I always try to interact without being a creepy pole man. It’s probably because a lot of them feel like this is just an early step on their road and don’t feel beaten down so they are able to take the work without being sour.
I wasn’t aware there are multiple déjàs. Really, you’ve given me a rabbit hole to explore, thanks.
Podcasts have been something I’ve really enjoyed since the early 2000s. But for me it’s a completely different experience than reading. I can pick up a good essay while eating breakfast. A podcast is something I do while working, driving, or at the gym. I’ll keep listening to you. I think you are doing good ones.
I wonder about what music people will be listening to in like 200 years. Will The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and the like be part of “The Classical Music” like Bach and Beethoven?
Oh man, did you read the last essay @michaldean9 published? Your two essays could have been published together. Check it out https://open.substack.com/pub/michaeldean9/p/lucy-in-the-sky-of-large-language-models
First comment on your Substack Michael, and I can already see the pitchforks. Well here goes! I'm not a Beatles fan in general, although I do like certain specific songs and I do like John Lennon a lot. I'm a diehard U2, Imagine Dragons, and Rolling Stones girl — actually met the Stones years ago on the set of their music video for Mixed Emotions, and can share they were absolute gentlemen.
The new Beatles song is fascinating for what they were able to do with technology. To Wil Dalton's point, unfortunate that there's a misunderstanding about how ML was used, not to regenerate John Lennon's voice but to isolate it from the original tape. There are numerous forms of AI, not just one, and that's what people tend to confuse. What worries me more is the misuse of synthetic AI voices, unauthorized songs using real artists' voices without their permission, etc. Because humans will be humans.
I grew up playing my parents Beatles albums over and over and over and over and over on the turntable. I listened to all the songs so many times I can’t even hear them anymore like the way I don’t notice the air I am breathing.
Hence I neither like nor dislike. I wish I could hear them again for the first time so I could have an opinions!
The documentary is beautiful
What do those other deja words mean
"Music taps into something deep inside us—a sacred place in our souls where emotions, identity, and community intersect." This is everything. Surely there is an Etsy shop out there who can turn this into a poster, yes? I'd gift myself, and you Michael, a piece of art like that!