Written by Jon Mercer in Music
Viewed by 103 readers since 11-25-2008
Beatles fans will do just about anything to get their hands on rare and unreleased material by the Fab Four. For many years, there have been rumors amongst hard-core Beatles fanatics of an unreleased song known only as “Carnival of Light.” This week, Sir Paul McCartney officially confirmed the existence of the 14 minute experimental track, which the band considered to be far too “adventurous” to release to the general public. The track was subsequently shelved in 1967, and has never been heard since.
According to Sir Paul, the song was improvised in a recording session at Abbey Road Studios, and the band had planned to debut the track at an electronic music festival taking place in London. Unfortunately, the band members decided that “Carnival of Light” veered too far from the band’s traditional sound to ever be accepted by fans.
But after all these years, the band’s fans may have a chance to judge the track for themselves. McCartney stated that he would like to release the song to the public, and to finally get the reaction of the fans to the unusual tune. He emphasized though, that the estates of the other Beatles members would have to agree before the track could be released to the public.
When asked to describe “Carnival of Light,” McCartney pointed out the experimental and electronic nature of the tune. According to Sir Paul, the song was recorded at Abbey Road in a very short afternoon session where he directed the other band members to improvise and “wander around” musically. He describes the results as “very free,” and with “a bit of an echo.”
But even though the song was never released by the band, it was actually played — just one time. The group allowed the track to be featured at an electronic music festival, were critics compared it to the avant-garde work of experimental composers such as legendary “noisemaker” John Cage.
In an interview with the BBC, McCartney also revealed that the original master recording of the song was in his possession, and had been for all these years. In fact, he said he had sought to include “Carnival of Light” on a Beatles anthology record released in the 1990s. Unfortunately, his fellow band members disagreed and the idea was promptly scrapped.
Hopefully, if McCartney can secure the consent of Ringo Starr and the estates of both John Lennon and George Harrison, the band’s fans will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss was about, and if “Carnival of Light” is a worthwhile addition to any serious Beatles fan’s collection.