Like most Beatles fans, there was a time when we hoped the band would somehow reunite for just one last show. That hope took a nosedive first with the shooting death of John Lennon, then George Harrison’s death from cancer.
Along the way, we got a few tidbits, including a new song by the surviving members (Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney) remixed with archival recordings of John Lennon for a best-of collection back in the 1990s. Honestly, that was just a little creepy – basically the three survivors discovering ghost tracks on an old reel, writing a little music around it and deciding to send it out into the world anyway.
Granted, Paul in concert does a pretty good job of echoing the Beatles experience (at least the parts of it on which he sang lead), and he’s even teamed up with Ringo for TV performances here and there. Still, the experience of having the lads back together is one we’ll now have to just imagine.
Now, with all the fancy-shmancy artificial intelligence tech emerging in the world, we have this offering from the folks and SONY CSL Research Laboratory that claims to be the work of an AI that took the entirety of the Beatles catalog, digested it and came up with something similar on its own.
Truth be told, very little of this is AI-made – a human wrote the lyrics and arranged the piece from melodies the machine spat out. Still, given the constant advances in AI tech and various forms of virtual and augmented reality, how far away are we really from an immersive concert experience featuring digitally aged avatars of the whole band – Lennon and Harrison included – performing “new” material?
This could be the dawn of a new age, particularly for those folks who cling to the artists and music of their youth with a death grip. We could digitally resurrect Jerry Garcia to once again front The Grateful Dead so his hippy minions and their children (and grandchildren) won’t have to settle for following Phish.
For other music lovers, we could finally insist that digital Stevie Ray Vaughn be the headliner at all shows that previously would have showcased living, breathing John Mayer. Vegas could digitally host both Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole forever performing in duet, while right down the Strip the entire Rat Pack realistically drinks, smokes and riffs on which one of them would get to go home with Celine Dion (my money’s on Sammy Davis Jr.).