Carnival of Light & Now and Then: Release The Beatles' Lost Songs

Carnival of Light & Now and Then: Release The Beatles' Lost Songs

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Petition to
Paul McCartney and

Why this petition matters

Started by Dennis Colbert

Carnival of Light was an experimental song recorded by The Beatles and written by Sir Paul McCartney in 1967. The song was commissioned to be played at the  Million Volt Light and Sound Rave event in London's Roadhouse venue. Pre-dating John Lennon's Revolution 9 on The White Album, it was The Beatles' first attempt at an avant-garde record. All that is known about the song (from descriptions via veteran listeners and Paul McCartney himself) is that it is slightly under 14 minutes long, contains a lot of unusual percussive, echo-laden and distorted sounds. 

The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave only spanned two days, so because of the lack of an official release, Carnival of Light has only been played for the public twice in history. Since these two occurrences were nearly 54 years ago, a good majority listeners who were lucky enough to hear the record are no longer alive, nor was the technology available to bootleg or record it second-hand at the event. Therefore, Carnival of Light is arguably one of the infamous pieces of lost media.

Paul McCartney has expressed interest in releasing Carnival of Light on Anthology 2 in 1996, as well as the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band re-issue in 2016, but the idea was denied by the estates of his bandmates.

On the other hand, Now and Then was a rough piano demo John Lennon recorded in 1978 that was unfinished. Following John Lennon's assassination, this tape, alongside Grow Old With Me, Real Love and Free as a Bird, were given to the surviving Beatles members. The "Now and Then" tape had Lennon's writing on the front, which read "For Paul." With Yoko Ono's consent, Paul, George, Ringo and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne began transforming these songs under The Beatles' record label.

While Real Love and Free as a Bird were released on the first two Anthology albums and Grow Old With Me was released on John Lennon's posthumous Milk and Honey album, Now and Then was only partially recorded until George Harrison pulled the plug on the idea. This was because he thought the result was rubbish and that the demo was hard to work with at the time.

Around 2009, John Lennon's raw demos were leaked onto YouTube. Many listeners believed that the Now and Then demo was very beautiful and would like to hear what direction the surviving Beatles wanted to take it in. 

Like Carnival of Light, Paul McCartney expressly wants to try working on Now and Then once more with Ringo and Jeff, but requires approval from Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

Even more recently, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Eagles' Joe Walsh did their own recording of Grow Old With Me, so Ringo would most likely be interested working on lost Beatles projects.

Any addition to the catalog of one of the most influential bands of all time, is a welcome one. After many long years, it only seems fair to Beatles fans that the songs be released in some form. The songs would have been perfect to release alongside Peter Jackson’s Get Back film, but it is better late than never, especially with the increased interest in The Beatles that could follow it. It would be incredible to hear these songs, especially remastered and recreated under the supervision of talented individuals like Jeff Lynne or Giles Martin. We have the technology to finish Now And Then by cleaning up John’s demo and sampling archival guitar audio from George. Carnival of Light is much simpler because the song is already finished and stereo remastering is the only change that would need to happen. These songs are too culturally significant to be locked away in The Beatles’ vault.

So to any who were involved in the making of these songs or have any connections to such people, please find it in your heart to allow listeners around the world to hear two works of art that have been missing for decades.

64 have signed. Let’s get to 100!