“It was 50 years ago today” (June1) that the Beatles taught the world how to listen to an album in its entirety. In it they guaranteed that their songs would “raise a smile” and five decades plus no one has asked for their money back. The act that we have all known for years is still providing a thrill.
The band that more or less walked out on us but never sang you a “song out of key” made musical history half a millennial ago when they changed the music forever. The landmark release Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out and we all believed in “love at first sight” and listen. But according to the excellent new PBS document, they did indeed do it “with a little help from their friends.”
Producer George Martin received as much credit as the band for making the studio an instrument. Making audio kaleidoscopes where “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” just might exist. Sales of this final combined effort from the fab four “grew so incredibly high.”
What made this record tick? Leading up to its release, rock and roll music was mired in corporate bureaucracy and hit singles. The owners of the record labels where like your teachers in school not cool. They were holding artists down while “filing them up with their rules” until the Liverpool four assured us it was “getting better.”
They managed to “fix the hole” in the music world where leaders, political and otherwise, were like rain from a leaking roof. But the Beatles fixed it with this release so they ignored their advice as they just let their “minds wonder where they would go.”
It was the last really coordinated note from the band that just a few years previously had landed on the tarmac in New York and though we all hoped that “they we would say more,” they felt jaundiced. They had given us “most of their lives, sacrificed most of their lives.” Accordingly they say they “never thought for themselves” so they just turned up the recorders and had fun. Because “fun is the one thing money can’t buy.”
So for our benefit and Mr. Kite’s of course they challenged the world. They guaranteed a “splendid time” and with this album delivered one to “top the bill.” After assuring the public that “their production would be second to none,” then went off to dance their nearly last waltz.
And essentially that’s what it became. There was “space between” them was growing and they were tired so they hid “themselves behind a wall of illusion” of a new made up band. They were looking beyond themselves in hopes of finding “peace of mind waiting there.” They were frightened yet resolved not to become “people who gain the world and lose their soul.”
So they questioned everything and everyone. Even doubting that their fans would still love them as they turned 64. A feat most of them got thru, though I doubt any of them spent time “doing the garden or digging for weeds.” They should be assured that we still need them and their music will still feed us when we turn 64.
So with their crazy ass album cover they had a laugh as they “towed our hearts” away. Their modesty was most becoming. They “discreetly inquired” of Miss Rita or you the fan if they mig ht have some tea. They respected their listener and wondered where they would be with them.
It’s amazing this many years out that they felt they had “nothing to say” and that their “life was a ruin.” And even though on the outside they were smiling they felt cool and disquieted when they realized in spite of their fun “nothing had changed, it’s still the same.” The sun came up again “Good Morning.”
And the news was of a lucky man (or four men) “who made the grade.” The musical statement of a generation from an artist of the common man. To them it was just a “day in a life.” But man they “loved to turn us on.” And fifty years later they still do.