So it really does exist. The 14-minute “Carnival of Light” track, long the stuff of Beatles legend, will finally see the light of day, according to Paul McCartney, who says he’s always been fond of the experimental noodling “because it’s the Beatles free, going off piste.” The track is said to feature distorted electric guitars, discordant sound effects, a church organ, and gargling sounds, as well as McCartney and John Lennon screaming phrases like “Barcelona” and “Are you all right?”
McCartney says the Beatles didn’t release the track when they recorded it in 1967 because its avant-garde experimentation, described as inspired by musique concrète composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, was too adventurous for mainstream audiences at the time. It certainly sounds adventurous enough, but I have to wonder if the real reason is that it’s simply not that good, another failed attempt at translating a sublime acid trip to art. For one, the Beatles included “Revolution No. 9,” another long experimental track inspired by Stockhausen, on the White Album just one year later, in 1968. And the Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat was pretty out-there back in 1968. Then Lou Reed took his former band’s craziness a step further with 1975’s Metal Machine Music, which was so experimental people at the time thought it had to be a joke. Seems to me we were “ready” for Beatles’ experimentation long before now, and seeing as we’ve heard just about everything they’ve pressed to vinyl over the past 40-plus years, I worry that we’ll be disappointed with the release of the mythological “Carnival of Light.” Of course, all that blather aside, I can’t wait to hear the damn thing. You?