Interview for Front Row • Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interview for BBC Radio 4

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Front Row
Published by:
Interview by:
John Wilson
Timeline More from year 2008

Songs mentioned in this interview

Carnival of Light

Unreleased song

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From BBC Radio 4 – Front Row, 20/11/2008:

In 1993, Paul McCartney teamed up with producer and musician Youth to release an experimental ambient music album under the name The Fireman. Fifteen years later and with the identity of the musicians revealed, lyrics have now been added to their third album, Electric Arguments. Paul discusses the freedom of recording as The Fireman and how his experimentalism goes as far back as 1967 and the improvised Beatles track, Carnival of Light, which, he says, the public might soon hear for the first time.

From BBC NEWS | Entertainment | ‘Mythical’ Beatles song confirmed:

Sir Paul McCartney has confirmed a 14-minute long Beatles track many thought was a myth does exist – and says he wants the public to hear it.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row the track – called Carnival of Light – was not released because the other Beatles thought it was too “adventurous”.

The improvised track was recorded in 1967 for an electronic music festival.

Sir Paul said Ringo Starr and John Lennon’s and George Harrison’s estates would have to agree to a release.
He said he had been asked to create the piece for an electronic music festival, and asked the other band members to be “indulgent” for 10 minutes at London’s Abbey Road studios before giving them vague directions.

Sir Paul explained: “I said all I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn’t need to make any sense. Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around.

“So that’s what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It’s very free.”

The track was played just once, at the festival, and is said to include distorted guitar, organ sounds, gargling and band members shouting phrases such as “Barcelona!” and “Are you all right?”

Sir Paul said he was fond of the track, which was inspired by experimental composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen: “I like it because it’s The Beatles free, going off piste.”

He said he still had a master tape of the piece, adding: “The time has come for it to get its moment.”

Sir Paul had wanted to include the track on the Beatles’ Anthology compilations in the mid-1990s, but the rest of the band vetoed the idea.

He said: “I said it would be great to put this on because it would show we were working with really avant-garde stuff.”

The full interview will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Thursday 20 November at 1915 GMT.


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