We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...
1967, the Beatles had grown tired of touring, and with the success of Revolver, they decided to get back into the recording studio with their novel invention of an alter ego band. Paul was the first to come up with the idea of the new album and stressed his ideas on the rest of the band. With all of the Fab Four on board, it was time to begin their journey, as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is full of wonder and iconic songs of the age. The entire album consisted of many Lennon/McCartney songs and the genius of George Harrison. It was hard not to make this album iconic because of whom they were.
But rest assure, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr brought forth one of the most classic, remembered albums of the decade, and it is true that many people only remember this album and Abby Road because of their strange album covers. Sgt. Pepper's is one of my personal favorite albums of all time, if not my favorite because it blends together all types of poetry and strangeness all with in 40 minutes.
I Get High With a Little Help From My Friends
Not only is the cover a strange one with the multitudes of all the famous images, but it also had so many different types of controversy to come along with it. Firstly, John wanted some form of Jesus and Hitler on the album cover. George Martin would not have it. It wouldn't sell because of two very distinct reasons. John Lennon had previously said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, and having Jesus on the album cover could possibly mean an early retirement for the Four. And Adolf Hitler... well... enough said. But to Lennon both people inspired him. He was born on a German night raid and was lucky he didn't die coming out of the womb.
Secondly, it was no known secret that the Four were dabbling in "grass" during their American tour. Marijuana was very influential, and it could be heard in the music as well as the lyrics themselves. The most controversial of songs was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. A lovely twist on a Lewis Carroll classic of Through the Looking Glass. Lennon had a wonderful imagination growing up, and unfortunately, it always got him in trouble. He loved Carroll and his works, especially if you look into I Am the Walrus, Lennon's twist on the Walrus and the Carpenter. The song was controversial because it spelled out the letters to the drug LSD, which of course the Beatles were trying and using. Though, this isn't the real story behind it as many claim it to be. It was Lennon's son, Julian, who came home from school with a drawing of a girl flying in the sky. He said that it was Lucy in the sky with diamonds, and Lennon immediately called McCartney to begin one of his legendary songs.
Picture Yourself on a Boat on a River
All the songs on this album were brilliantly written. All are relatively bright and colorful with their images and meanings. I love how they took a simple idea of a four man band and turned it into a wonderful escape for the Fab Four. The name Sgt. Pepper came about when John's Liverpool-esque accent asked for someone to pass the salt and pepper. So the name stuck and the Fab Four were now working under Sgt. Pepper and became his Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The opening to this wonderful album is the titled song. It opens and finishes with Sgt. Pepper's to start the show and to end it. I love how the opening song sets the listener in a county park with a white gazebo and these four musicians and conductor waiting for people to hush-up so they can begin their show. I also love how the songs just flow within one another to give the essence of 1900s type of band event. The first two songs run into each other perfectly as the Four introduce Billy Shears (a/k/a Ringo Starr). The last three songs also collide perfectly as Good Morning, Good Morning ends with a rooster cawing and the first note to Sgt. Pepper's reprise are the same key, finally ending with my personal favorite song of A Day in the Life.
All the songs are giddy and happy, even though there are a few dark meanings behind a few like She's Leaving Home or Harrison's Within You, Without You. Harrison's song is similar to Lennon's closing of Revolver: Tomorrow Never Knows. Their fans took what they perceived as truth in their music, but nevertheless, Lennon always said that their songs were just words and nothing more. If he wanted to write a song about defecating, he would, and the people would think he's talking about peace and serenity.
Within You, Without You
George Harrison! Words cannot describe how lyrically amazing you were! May he rest in peace. His ideology and the essence of Indian music gave way to a whole new meaning to the Beatles. He was heavily profound in his Buddhist theology, and he expressed so much of his ideology in his lyrics. Harrison heavily used the sitar in many of his Beatles classics: Love To You, The Inner Light, and of course Within You, Without you. I love how the deeper meaning of the song slowly comes out as he talks of "life going on within you and without you." It makes one think that he is talking of humanity or life outside humankind.
George was the quiet one, but he was also the best looking of the four. He is also known as the "best looking one of the bunch" by his ex-wife Patty Harrison.
When I'm 64
Probably one of the funnest songs on the album, When I'm 64 has an amazing beat and fun lyrics. It is possibly my second favorite on the album. It was a song Paul wrote after his father had turned 64. The tidbit of "will you still feed me, will you still need me, when I'm 64" can be very catchy and will definitely get stuck in your head. Both Paul and John came up with some amazing music for Sgt. Pepper's, and this song is also regarded as a classic Beatles' hit.
Paul became best friends with John when the band was still called the Quarry Men. They were so much alike that they were almost like long, lost brothers. They were like one river at the beginning, then twinning out into two separate paths and at some points bickering with the other through songs (i.e. McCartney's 3 Legs and Lennon's How Do You Sleep?), but closer to the death of Lennon, their paths diverged into one once again, only this time they wouldn't get to see the other before Chapman assassinated Lennon in December of 1980. Paul then came out with possibly one of the most unaccredited songs ever: (If You Were) Here Today. This song became tribute to Lennon after his passing in 1981.
Paul still misses his best friend, and he would gladly tell you that HE is John Lennon's biggest fan. They never got to see 64, and the two remaining Beatles have grown into a blossoming friendship in their old age.
A Day in the Life (1967)
I Read the News Today, O Boy!
A Day in the Life is my favorite Beatles song! It is a perspective of both John and Paul in their amazing lives. Many people saw many different drug aspects of the song, but I don't read that much into it. John's lyric of "he blew his mind out in a car, he didn't notice that the lights had changed" apparently was "shooting up on LSD." Paul's lyrics in the midsection of the song "made my way upstairs and had a smoke and someone spoke and I went into a dream" turns out to be Paul speaking of smoking weed. It's possible, but I do believe that he was talking about having a smoke... with an actual cigarette.
It is a great song to end the album, and George Martin incorporating the symphonic band in the end is the epitome of this album. I come from symphonic band experience, and this could be the reason why I love this song so much. I totally recommend this album to anyone, especially a person with a love of the Beatles such as myself. Here's to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band!
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