June 1, 2007

Picture yourself with a psychedelic record...

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" turns 40 this weekend. How strange this makes me feel! "It was 20 years ago today...," the opening line of the album, referred to desperately old-fashioned times, and now the album is twice that old, and yet... it seems to be all about youth and promise and newness.

At the time, I thought my parents were so hopelessly mired in the past to still be listening to the music they loved from the 1940s. I enjoyed mocking my father's ridiculous belief that the big bands would come back. The old man needed to face the fact that rock and roll had conquered everything. But they were in love with music that was only 20 years old. That would be like someone today loving U2's "With or Without You" and Prince's "Sign O' the Times" -- which seems utterly normal and not at all pathetic.

Funny how things within your own lifetime remain so alive. But step across the boundary into that infinity of time when you were not yet born, and it's so far away. When I was growing up, WWII seemed disconnected from anything that related to me -- though in truth, I owed my existence and everything about my way of life to it -- but it was no longer ago that the Clinton Era is now.

Enough about me. Back to "Sgt. Pepper." Let's see what Steven Van Zandt has to say:
After being obviously the "greatest album ever made" for years, it ran into a bit of revisionist history these past, oh, 30 years or so.

It probably began with one of the Beatles putting it down or shrugging it off or making the mistake of suggesting that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be....

So, with the only disclaimer that the appallingly awful stereo mastering is, tragically, the only available version right now, let me revise revisionist history and suggest that "Sgt. Pepper" was, and is, an incredible piece of work and absolutely the best representation of the Summer of Love and the very psychedelic 1967. (Blog: What are your "Pepper" memories?)
Are you asking me, Stevie? Right when I was going to stop talking about myself and listen to you. Okay.

Well, the day the album came out, I bought it. My friend was having her "Sweet 16" party that evening, which was bad timing, because all I wanted to do was to listen to that album over and over and get it thoroughly imprinted on my brain so I could listen to it on a deeper level, over and over. So I brought the album to the party, thinking everyone would freeze, stunned by the brilliance, and want to do nothing but listen and talk about how the entire world had changed today.

But it played too much in the background for us to hear it properly. Someone's mother said to me, in a disgusted tone, "What is this music?" I can't remember how much of my contempt I conveyed as I said this was the new Beatles album. I silently counted her as one more example that my parents' generation was the lamest. The entire environment of a suburban "Sweet Sixteen" party was giving me that she's leaving home after living alone for so many years feeling. How right George was about the space between us all. But this is not the way we're going to live from now on. Bring on the tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
It was universally mind-blowing at the time....

Interestingly, in direct contrast to the album's ultramodern sound, its lyrics and sensibility were wistful, nostalgic -- very much looking back when the world was looking forward (and made more obvious if you include "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane," both meant to be on the album). It's full of depressed, dysfunctional, cynical, confused and, yes, lonely characters going through the motions of life, implicitly asking, "Is this all there is?" when the band's audience was never more full of hope, discovering love and becoming philosophically enlightened.

The world was unified in its praise of and inspiration from the album as it has never been for anything before or since.
Stevie says to get the album in mono -- I've had it right by me for 40 years -- and listen straight through:
I promise you will be transported to a place you've never been....
Oh, but I was.

ADDED: Excellent "Sgt. Pepper" website.


Saul said...

We didn't get the record the day it came out, but soon thereafter. I remember pulling up to Wheaton Plaza (before it was a mall) in the 1960 station wagon with my mom and then three other siblings. My oldest brother got the honor of buying the record. I was five at the time and listened to the record over and over (except within you and without you, which at age 5 was a must skip). My fav was day in the life, which left a huge impression on a five year old mind that has stayed with me to this day.

My fav song now from the record is She's Leaving Home, which I would argue is the most complete pop song ever, and extremely collaborative, as John's background vocals are as important as the main lyrics.

All the technology in the world has never been able to beat the best rock and roll record ever.

reader_iam said...

"Surreal" would have worked better rythmically than "psychedelic," but then, there is that pesky imperative of precise word choice for meaning.

Sometimes my ear gets in the way of other parts... .

Eli Blake said...

One wonders how many Eleanor Rigbys there are even today, what they could do for the world, and why we as a society prefer that they remain invisible.

That said, I beg to differ about something:

The world was unified... as it has never been for anything before or since.

I wish you were right. The world was unified, and in support of the United States right after Sept. 11, 2001. And the support we got from virtually anyone who we asked for it for the Afghan war that began about a month later was also remarkable.

And then came the shift in focus to Iraq. An outright invasion, conquest and occupation of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

And the world was disunified for a time.

And now, mostly the citizens of the world are becoming unified again. Against us.

Ann Althouse said...

John's contribution to "She's Leaving Home" expresses the point of view of the parents, which is very touching. And since it's John, you also feel he's being sarcastic and making fun of the poor old couple.

Ann Althouse said...

Eli: "Eleanor Rigby" isn't on "Sgt. Pepper."

Saul said...

John's background vocals almost turn the song into a three minute play... and yes there is a reserved sarcasm overlayed by John... as he does on Getting Better

Fen said...

The world was unified, and in support of the United States right after Sept. 11, 2001.

No,thats revisionist. There was sympathy for a few days, spattered with cheering in some foreign capitals and editorials that we "had it coming". The world that you claim has now united against us is the same set of america-bashers that existed prior to 9-11. They just use Iraq as an excuse for the scapegoating, same way they would use Kyoto if we had avoided Iraq.

BTW, what was this world doing to handle Iraq? 12+ UN resolutions threatening harsh words. Sanctions that had devolved into the corrupt oil for food scam. France backstabbing us at the UN with promises to Saddam that they would obstruct action in exchange for oil contracts. Russia feeding Saddam intel of our troop movements in Kuwait and Persian Gulf. These are the "allies" who's good opinion you so desperately crave?

George M. Spencer said...

See the people standing there
who disagree and never win
and wonder why they don't get in my door

Bissage said...

Eli seems to be having an off day.

I hope it's not enabling his attempted threadjack to note that the unified-as-never-before thought comes from Steven Van Zandt, not Althouse.

Eli should have typed: "I wish he were right."

That out of the way, all was clear for Eli to dump his steamy pile of sloppy bunee.

Fen said...

Yah, but should I have ignored it or challenged the lie? I always seem to find myself in a similar dilemma Ann mentioned on that blogging head's episode. You don't want to derail, but some things can't be left out there.

I think thats how the Gingrich served divorce papers on wife in hospital mythology was created. Lefties repeated the lie enough, unchallenged, that it became urban legend.

Laura Reynolds said...

Its my favorite Beatles' album which makes it my favorite album.

Another irony is the contrast between the image of the "old man" in "When I'm Sixty Four" and how it actually turned out for them (or didn't).

Took her home, and nearly made it

Simon said...

One of my favorite records of all time. My parents are maybe five years older than Ann, but very much of that generation for whom the Beatles were "their band," particularly my dad, and because I didn't really develop an independent interest in music until early teens, I grew up immersed in those records. Maybe it's just me, but I never worried about when music was made; the thought just wouldn't occur to me. Most of the best music was written a couple of centuries before I was born, so why worry that a song is twenty years old? ;) Sgt. Pepper is, in a very real sense, a spring chicken.

It's an awesome record, the opening is just fantastic. I never got over my dislike of Within Without You, but as I got drawn into Pink Floyd - and particularly The Wall - in college, I've been drawn into Harrison's line that "We were talking about the space between us all / And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion."

If I had to pick a favorite song off of it, it'd be Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (which stands out as quirky and odd) or A Day in the Life (that gorgeously simple and elegiacal arrangement in its opening bars).

Unknown said...

This is an album that has stood the test of time; its lasting vitality is strong evidence of its greatness. Like Ann, I listened to it repeatedly when it came out and argued endlessly with my brothers and friends about the meaning of lyrics as well as the ever-engaging album cover.

Although many other albums before and after were considered "cooler" by "cooler" kids than I, few of them (including the Beatles' own White Album) garner the same continuing interest this extraordinary work does.

And I agree with Van Zandt. The album can't be really appreciated song by song, although there are a lot of great ones on it. The amazing freshness of the album comes not merely from the music but the incredible range of the songs in mood and style and constant shifts that surprise at first and then, after many listenings, seem inevitable and impossible to stop listening to.

Kenneth Burns said...

Peggy Lee should indeed have been the fifth Beatle.

KCFleming said...

Nick Hornby describes in "Songbook" the process of infatuation and falling in love with a song much as Ann does here.

Still a wonderful album. And I am grateful that I still find new music loveable, and listen over and over to some new tune that captures my heart for awhile.

Currently, that'd be Amy Winehouse and "Rehab", Brandi Carlile's "The Story", and, still Gary Jules singing "Mad World". Every song on Sgt. Pepper did that, though, and still does.

Joan said...

When I was in high school (77-81), I was one of only a few kids that were really into the Beatles. My interest came from my older brothers' and sisters' record collections, so that when they grew up and moved out, I had to buy my own copies of the albums I had been listening to. My first-ever album purchase was Abbey Road, but Sgt. Pepper was my second.

It was bizarre hearing all the Pepper songs on American Idol. It made me want to listen to the real deal again -- and I realized that I don't even have it on CD! The vinyl, alas, is long gone, destroyed by damp basement storage.

I feel oddly disloyal, like I've betrayed an old friend -- but at the same time it's delightful to rediscover something that I once enjoyed so much, and to find that it is still as compelling now as it was then.

stoqboy said...

My kids listen to the Beatles all the time and love them. I have one album, Sgt. Pepper on CD. They have at least a couple, Love and The Beatles 1. They probably have dozens of other songs they have variously acquired. More generally, they listen to a lot of older music. I can only guess that they get the flavor of it from tv (many many commercials) and movies (e.g. Sweet Home Alabama). My younger daughter wants to visit Jim Morrison's grave.

Revenant said...

I wish you were right. The world was unified, and in support of the United States right after Sept. 11, 2001.

What a load of crap.

Ann Althouse said...

Reader: If you're going to go off on "ear," you should suggest a 3-syllable word.

George M. Spencer said...

Nov. 5, 1972, is only about 150 days away, folks....

...35th anniversary of the release of "Europe '72,' America's answer to 'Pepper.'

"I wish I was the headlight on a northbound train.
I'd shine my light through the cool Colorado rain."

Steven said...

I've always preferred Revolver. In particular, I'll take "Love You To" over "Within You Without You" any day (for the "Eastern-influenced George Harrison song" slot). But I also prefer "Eleanor Rigby" to "She's Leaving Home" (for the "bathos-drenched Paul McCartney song" slot), "She Said She Said" to "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" (for the "offbeat John Lennon song to close side 1" slot), "Tomorrow Never Knows" to "A Day in the Life" (for the "psychedelic John Lennon song to end the album" slot), and "Yellow Submarine" to "With A Little Help From My Friends" (for the "token Ringo vocal" slot). Basically, Revolver features "the boys" (as George Martin would call them) at the peak of their creativity, without any of the self-indulgence that began to creep in on Sgt. Pepper.

reader_iam said...


Surreal had three syllables last time I checked (though I admit you have to change the accent to make it work).

So does:


; )

Anonymous said...

Great album. But alas bad memories, echoing Joan's comment. It's 1977 and four young gents are totally enthralled with the album. Listening to it everyday. We decide to cover one of the songs for the basis of our entry into the annual elementary school talent contest. Costumes impeccable. Lip synching superb. Parents and teachers grooving in the aisles. But from almost all of our fellow students--mock and disdain. The Beatles--totally yesterday.

(By the way Eli's comment interested me since as someone who lives abroad and does a lot of travelling abroad, speaks a few foreign languages too, I was curious how anyone could actually believe the impression he gives about the world post 9/11. Poking around one comes to the conclusion, for Eli, this he must believe or much starts to unravel in his dogmatic mind. He's a true believer. I especially liked the name of the blog he writes for: "Coalition for a Republican-Free America" And the blurb explaining the blogs reason to be: "The hyphen says it all. We strive for an honorable America free of Republican greed, arrogance, rapacity, and ineptutude." Eli you might want to get one of the contributors to your group blog, maybe the Ph.D., to run a spell check. First rule of condemning others ineptitude--spell ineptitude correctly. (See this wasn't off topic. I'm connecting it to the spelling bee entry earlier. And the spelling mistakes I've made above, typos, of course.)

Anthony said...

I went through a brief phase of semi-fandom of the Beatles when I was probably 14-15. My sister(?) had the red or blue (or both) Greatest Hits LPs and I listened to them a lot for a bit.

Musically, it's significant, but the rapture many experience is only due to having some connection to the time and attitude. I have none, so I can take it or leave it. Mostly leave it.

It's been argued that the music that we tend to latch onto for the rest of our lives is the stuff we listened to between about 16 and 22. That may be true; I have several LPs from that time in my life (which would be. . .'round about 1976-1982), but I progressed. Some of my most-played CDs are from the 1990s.

I'm a bit out of the loop these days, but I seriously haven't found a whole lot that strikes my fancy lately, at least not enough to rush out and buy/download CDs. . .

KCFleming said...

Re: "It's been argued that the music that we tend to latch onto for the rest of our lives is the stuff we listened to between about 16 and 22."

I hear this all the time. But it weren't never true for me. I discover new and wonderful music frequently. My own high school years were plagued by disco. I was the only kid in town who listened to Elvis Costello. God, the 1970s were lame.

Susan said...

And, oh how we pored over the faces on the cover. I loved seeing the making of the alubum cover on the sgt peppers website you added. The life-size cutouts all staged. Today it would all be done with photoshop.

Laura Reynolds said...

steven: To me you're splitting hairs. The Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Peppers era is hard to pick apart, even though many see it your way. In the fight over which to take to the desert island, I'll gladly take the one left over.

vnjagvet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vnjagvet said...

Summer 1967. Nha Trang, RVN. A package from one of my best friends in law school and his wife has come and in it is a reel to reel audio tape in the ultra-high fidelity of the day with the complete Sgt. Pepper album, and a Mozart Piano Quintette among other things on it. Sheer joy.

We played it over and over until I came home the following May.

Wore it out.

Never thought I'd make it to 64, but am now 67.

Something great about that.

Even Eli can't take away the pleasure of the memories from that tape.

Anonymous said...

I was ten when Pepper came out and wearing cute little Mary Quant dresses and go-go boots to grade school. Even though I was too young to do drugs or understand counter-culture and psychedelia other than visually, I loved this album. Thought of it as one piece- the separate songs were great but to me they ran and blended together into one long perfect groove.

In a way, my teen is living the Beatles better than I did. She knows their lyrics better and ended up being good friends with one of their kids. When they hang out he teaches her music theory on the guitar and keyboard. He's very cerebral and a nice chap who loves to discuss the big questions. Hey, they’re all just getting by with a little help from their friends!

Howard said...

If you play it backwards you will hear the GWBush inauguration speech....

Simon said...

dan said...
"The Beatles--totally yesterday."

So to speak. ;)

Steven said...

SteveR: Very true. I love Sgt. Pepper too; I just prefer Revolver, and it would be my desert island choice (over Rubber Soul as well). And I think Revolver "suffers" from relative (emphasis on relative) neglect because of all the hype that has always surrounded Sgt. Pepper.

Cedarford said...

I do notice that 3 subsequent generations have at least partially embraced the Beatles. My Gen X rediscovered them. Like some of the best R&B singers, do-wop groups, Elvis, Country classic. Good stuff lasts, younger people find it and make it their own. Long after George Martin and Paul McCartney are dead, their work, Lennons, and Harrison's to a much lesser extent, will be sung and resung.

The best of their songs remain fresh....
And I will say that the most dated are of the "SGT Peppers" era - sung as "campy things". Great musical concept album, maybe the greatest ever, but their best songs are located elsewhere.

Last summer, at a local outdoors "chamber" concert, I heard a 20 year old contralto with two other backup singers do "I'll Follow the Sun". It was spectacular. That 1964 release is one of my 4 or 5 favorite songs, they did. McCartney wrote it when he was 16 and held it nearly 10 years because the Quarrymen and early Beatles were focused on harder R&B...
A few days after the concert, my neice, who is 14 and had gone with my brother's family with us to attend - asked where "that one beautiful soaring song" came from. Finding out, she downloaded the Lennon-McCartney original to her iPod, pronounced it even better than the concert version.

The good stuff lasts. Althouse doesn't have to worry about culturally and musically being stuck in amber.
It doesn't get old. Kids with their musical and entertainment fads may move past it, reject some quality stuff, but it seems that many eventually discover real quality - there is always an audience for "Casablancas", an appreciative ear for Ledbetter and Roy Orbison..admirers of Vladimir Horowitz...fans of Robert Burn's poetry.

zzRon said...

IMO Rubber Soul was the Beatles last "great" album. Starting with Revolver, the Fab Four began taking themselves a little too seriously (probably drug induced mind expansion....heh heh).

Anyway, I was 12 when "Meet the Beatles" hit the AM radio waves and have been hooked ever since.... but I prefer songs like "Youre Gonna Lose That Girl", "Ticket to Ride" or "You Cant do That" in place of stuff like "A Day in the Life" or "Helter Skelter". I know Im in the minority on this though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for noticing Simon.

Charlie Eklund said...

I've always considered myself to be the luckiest guy in the room...any room...due to the fact that a relative of mine is pictured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Which relative, you ask?

Tom Mix.

Beth said...

Somewhat off topic, but also somewhat coincidentally related:

The piano John Lennon plays on Imagine is in New Orleans this week--pianos go on tour, who knew?--and tonight is at Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop, where anyone can stop in and play it. There'll be some great piano players there, playing it as part of a program (Tom McDermott, David Torkanowsky) but if you're here, you can play, too.

Lafitte's is one of the oldest buildings in the Quarter. It's really like walking into a pirate's lair.

lee david said...

Taking the gritty hot subway from the Village up to a closet of an apartment just above Hells Kitchen with a few newfound friends, all dressed in the street uniform of the day, bellbottoms, t-shirts, Levi jackets, and long hair. The towel was placed in the crack under the door so the smell woudn't escape into the hall and betray our activities to someone who might alert the "pigs". The new Beatles album was the occasion and there was only one way to properly share this experience. We sang along to With a Little Help From My Friends as we passed those pinners around. By the time the swirling end to A Day In The Life came around for the third time we truly knew the meaning of psychedelic. All were sprawled on the floor and draped across the two chairs in the room. No one moved for what seemed like a very long time to pick the arm off of the record as it went click, click, click in that final groove. It was time to venture back into the night strees and find the all night diners and pizza shops.

Ha, ha, memories?

It did seem like that record was the first one that seemd all of a piece. A progression from start to finish, a real "head trip". The biggest problem was that someone had to rise off of the floor and turn the record over. This kind of messes up the flow, you know. Bummer.

Russell said...

I disagree with Van Zandt's trashing of the Sgt. Pepper stereo mix. Some things work better in the stereo version, and others are better in the mono. Biggest difference: "She's Leaving Home" runs faster (and a half-step higher) in mono. Both versions ought to be on the market, and that goes for all the Beatles records up through the white album.

blake said...


Gary Jules singing "Mad World"

Yeah, that's haunting. I was never a Tears for Fears fan but...wow.

Younger than Joan (she was already no doubt studying pataphysical science when I was in high school) but in my school there were The Beatles kids and our more modern, popular peers, who fancied KISS. And then Adam Ant. And then whatever else came along.

Then there was one poor kid who liked The Eagles.

The thing about "Sgt Pepper" is that it won't come again. Nor will The Beatles. Like so much of yesterday's phenomenons, it relies on a kind of monoculture that no longer exists, and never will (presuming the continuing fragmentation of pop culture).

Dad Bones said...

vnjagvet: Just missed you. Started my tour in the "French Riviera of Vietnam" in Jun 68.

The Beatles - and everybody else - got covered by all the Filipino bands that played Nha Trang.

Terri said...

My parents also couldn't stand "that music". They were into Sinatra and Doris Day, et al. I thought their music was so lame..... Today, I have a great appreciation for Frank and his peers. But they can't replace rock and roll! And my children adore the music of my youth! Youngest son (16) listens to nothing that was published after 1979. Oldest son graduated high school in 2006, and a tear fell from my eye as the balloons dropped and the speakers cranked up "Freebird" by Skynyrd. That was MY class song back in 1977!!! Dayum!

A sad thing about the digital age is the loss of the concept album. Sgt. Pepper, like many great albums of the day, was not just an album of individual songs. It was an opera in a way. You were compelled to listen to the whole thing. Today, CDs are just one or two worthy songs (which are downloaded individually) while the rest of an album is not even noticed because it is just filler. I can remember in my teens when a new album was released (by Fleetwood Mac, or Springsteen, Yes, Floyd or whoever), the DJs on my favorite FM station would play the entire album without interruption. Radio stations and the music industry just don't operate that way anymore.... No wonder my children appreciate the soundtrack of my youth so much!

Bruce Hayden said...

I am maybe a year older than Ann, but I suspect that because I am a guy, I never caught Beatlemania. I think that it was all the screaming girls that turned me off more than anything. So, I ended up jumping from the Beach Boys to the acid rock of the end of the decade.

Part of it though could also be that esp. their earlier works seem to have been aimed at girls. Sappy love balads, when we were more interested in fast cars, picking up girls, etc. And then, later, drugs and protesting Vietnam.

But their music has stood the test of time. I know teenage girls today who really like the Beatles, indeed, in preference to many of the more contemporary artists.

Anonymous said...

All you women are fools. You think you know things/everything,but you are,in that sense,pitiable.

Cabbage said...


If you're going to throw "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" onto Sgt. Peppers, I'm going to throw "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes and Villians" onto Pet Sounds and win that round.

On an unrelated note: I'm a young guy, so maybe I'm missing something here. I really enjoy the Beatles, but find the White Album is really boring. Its certainly no Help!.

Simon said...


blake said...
"Gary Jules singing "Mad World" Yeah, that's haunting. I was never a Tears for Fears fan but...wow."

Really? I love Tears for Fears. Watch the video for Woman in Chains, which really completes the song. I think it's exceptionally emotionally resonant. "And I feel / deep in your heart there are wounds time can't heal" - that line kills me.

(Although I do think that the Gary Jules version of Mad World is much better than the original).

Tim said...

The Beatles are good (not my favorite, but my wife's, and my daughters like them too), and I'll routinely load the CD changer in the truck with Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour one after the other. Definitely fun.

But I'm a subversive, and I've got my daughter listening to The Who's Tommy and Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here - and she digs both. Her mother is displeased with me. I've made amends by introducing The Talking Heads's Stop Making Sense - and she can't get enough of the opening from the DVD on the home theater system.

The youngest one likes Queen and George Thorogood and the Destroyers. Go figure.

Anyway, tt's really cool when your kids dig the same music you do. Next, I've got to work in some Hendrix and Zeppelin.

Simon said...

Tim said...
"But I'm a subversive, and I've got my daughter listening to ... Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here."

I've tended to find that people connect with Floyd to the extent that they can connect it to a deeper well of emotion. Waters' profound sense of loss (WYWH), contempt (Animals) and alienation (The Wall) coincided very much with where I felt in my first couple of years in college, and the connection has stuck. So in a weird way, if your daughter connects with those albums, I'm not certain that's a good thing.

(OTOH, she may just like the music.)

Tim said...


She's only ten, so I'm pretty sure she just likes the music - she likes old movies too - and the fact her dad likes the music too.
I've enough experience to understand your concerns though - I once selfishly forced my exceptionally well educated grandfather with a deep appreciation of the classic, fine arts to listen to Floyd's Animals - he wasn't nearly as impressed as I was - and it wasn't until years later I fully appreciated his tolerance - not because I think the album doesn't stand the test of time (it does), but because it was so alien to his sense of music.

So our tastes/play lists are very eclectic - from Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and other classics through choral, opera, jazz, Gershwin, big bands, swing, country and western, Sinatra, Cole, Bennett, Crosby, some New Age-y/Celtic stuff (inc. Scottish bagpipe marches), Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Annie Lennox, early rock, 60's, 70's and 80's rock, easy listening, motown, etc., etc., etc.

And the damned soundtrack from Paint Your Wagon. Don't ask.

But no disco, hip-hop or rap. Don't care much for punk either, and other than U2, I can't think of a band from the mid-90's on we listen to. I'm getting old, I guess.

My favorite is probably Beethoven's 9th, followed by the 5th, but on every Bastille Day I wake up my Francophile neighbors playing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and in the fall, driving up to the stadium before kick-off I've always got AC/DC's Back in Black ripping.

My daughter loves singing in the parish choir, so it's all good.

TMink said...

Tim, I think our ipods are pretty similar. You obviously have impecable taste in music. 8)

Hard to pick a favorite between Rubber Soul, Revolver, SPLHCB, and Magical Myster Tour. Revolver for me is still a bit of a pot album like Rubber Soul. Not AS psychedelic as Pepp and Tour. They all work for me, and I have multiple vinyl copies from multiple countries of all of them. Japanese, British, Mobile Fidelty, they take up lots of space on my record collection.

But I have never forked over the bucks for the mono Pepper. The lads said they worked for a week on that mix and put out the stereo in a day because stereo was rare in England.

I do have mono of some Hendrix and Birds and the Airplane and many Beatle albums, and they are fun to compare. But so far, I have not found them to be anything to get too worked up about, and I in general do get worked up about that sort of thing.


Tom T. said...

Area Man's Pop-Culture References Stop At 1988

FLAGSTAFF, AZ—According to sources, area resident Scott Marchand, 37, lives in a state of pop-cultural stasis, never making references to movies, music, or television shows that came after 1988.

Stephen said...

"When I'm Sixty-Four" was a jaunty jig when I first heard it. 64 was impossibly far away, as was losing my hair, and of course my true love would need me and feed me forever. Now the cheeriness is leavened with poignancy because our lives didn't turn out that way and because of the knowledge of those who never made it, including John and George.

hdhouse said...

I was bussing tables in the Student Union Grill as my extra $ gig when that came out. The entire world passed through that grill..even cleaned a table after Ralph Nader and Mitt Romney's father. I can still hear and smell and nearly feel the place when I hear Penny Lane.

Still have the album. It isn't pristine and frankly, pretty soon you won't be able to by a needle for the record player, but I'll just keep it. ya' know.

Anonymous said...

"It's been argued that the music that we tend to latch onto for the rest of our lives is the stuff we listened to between about 16 and 22."

Like my penchant for Smash Mouth, Chumbawamba, Gold Finger and Roberto Carlos?


Richard Fagin said...

Time to weigh in. Listening to the likes of Sgt. Pepper after 40 years REALLY shows how period specific that music was. It almost sounds silly now. Go back a few years from then, to say 1962, 3 and 4 and you'll find more timeless pieces - Beatles included.

Stuff I hated as a kid, like Ketty Lester's "Love Letters", or the Beatle's "Ringo's Theme" sound wonderful now. The production was simple, even crude, but the craftsmanship was superb. There's tons more like it from that period of time.

I turned my radio off in 1967. All the dope just ruined the music.

George M. Spencer said...

Good profile of a weary, depressed, unable-to-understand-the-Internet McCartney in the new Soprano issue of The New Yorker.

The guy's got deKoonings all over, and people with cell phones won't leave him alone.

Anonymous said...

Lee David, enjoyed your account.

vnjagvet said...


Wonder if any of those hotels in Nha Trang are still there?

The Viet Nam Riviera sure had a beautiful beach.

lee david said...


Memory is a funny thing. I probably would never have ever thought about that night or the scene that I describe for the rest of my life, had it not been for Ann's post. I don't think that I ever thought about it from the time it took place until now. The memory of the music and the time frame brought back by the post and the comments was a trigger for the visual memory.

I was 17 at the time. In a little more than a year after that I would be working at The Fillmore East in NYC and seeing most of the really great shows from that period. 6 years later, in '74' I toured with George Harrison as the lighting designer/director for the show. I can say for sure that as I was lying on that bare floor listening to that record that I couldn't imagine that eventuality. The time seems overfilled with events from this distance. I find it truly amazing that when a connection is made to an aural memory, such an insignificant visual memory comes back with such clarity. Do all of our really vivid memories have a sound track?

Christy said...

Very late to this thread, but I was just looking for the Eric Clapton/George Harrison "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on iTunes and couldn't find it. Then I discovered there are no Beatles, the group, on iTunes. Why is that? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

"Do all of our really vivid memories have a sound track?"

Lee, as much as I love music and attempted to play the piano valiantly in competitions, my most vivid memories are bird’s eye visuals full of mood atmospherics akin to paintings. You must be musical down to the bone, and of course your recollection here was about some emblematic music of the times.

But you must be right about how most of us associate particular pieces of music with past times and places, and even with movie scenes embedded in our suggestible minds. Funny, though, how nobody here recalled that Sound of Music was still top of the charts when Pepper came out-- Do you remember what you were doing when Julie Andrews first sang Do-Re-Mi? The only drugs associated with that music are Coke and movie house mystery butter.

Lucky you that you saw so many of the greats and toured with Harrison! You were really there for the big rock Moment--

lee david said...


I wrote you a long explaination but the machine ate it. The short version is that Michael Jackson and Sony who own the publishing for the catalogue wouldn't make a deal with Itunes for distribution. A mistake in my estimation, but who knows?

lee david said...


Thanks for the reply and your perspective. It was a genuine question. The more I understand about how my brain processes information the better I can make use of it. The more I understand how others do, the more I see how our perceptions can be so different. Facinating. I consider myself to be a visual sort hence, the attraction to the lighting. It just seems that those memories are so much more complete and vivid that have a sound association as well.

Are you in the UK? I followed your link and the album chart was for the UK. The US one for 67 was almost all Monkeys, Sargent Pepper, and Supremes. I consider the Monkeys to be pretty much what's known as bubblegum. The Rock and R&B stuff that was going to dominate those album charts for the next few years was just starting to get some traction at that time; and, this was the same time that the baby boom demographic was getting to work in great numbers, their buying power exploded. Commercial success is a very poor indicator of quality, though it is a very good indicator of popularity. When you hook up even a modicum of quality with popularity you get a commercial blockbuster that has legs. The repitition gives it a larger and larger share of the gates of access (triggers) to the memory pathways. That's my little theory anyway. I don't consider Sgt. Pepper to be any sort of masterpiece; but, it was most assuredly influential. I think that is why you get so much comment on the topic and so much variation of opinion as to the records significance.

Anonymous said...

Oops, Lee, you caught me using a UK chart when I couldn’t locate the US one fast enough :) I split my time between two southern states with frequent trips to NY. Haven’t been to England for maybe 18 months.

I took your question seriously, but my answer—that for me memories don’t trigger music as often as music evokes past times-- wasn’t as clear or grounded in psychology as it could have been. What about smell? Brings on the strongest recollections for me and always of something “inconsequential”, a between moment from long ago that was blissful or at one with everything. You must be astutely self-aware if you’re studying how your brain perceives in order to maximize it. I just take vitamins and hope I can remember where I put the keys! Are you still doing lighting? Building design and restoration here.

I agree with your take on Sgt. Pepper. The Beatles weren’t absolute leading edge musicians, but they were phenoms who pushed the mainstream envelope musically and culturally. They worked image, media and trend ingeniously, while giving us music that both resonated with us and changed us a bit. I can’t even get exercised over their politics of back then. B/c that was Yesterday.

Christy said...

Thanks, Lee. I suspected as much, but then Jackson, himself, was available so I wondered if it could be something else. Yes, it is a mistake. I am highly unlikely to buy the CD but perfectly willing to pay the buck for download of the one song.

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