And so it now goes, “it was (fifty years) ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”.
Celebrating the original release date of May 26, 1967, The Beatles is a gift that keeps on giving, and who among us then would have known at that time that we would be looking back nostalgically at Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band in the spring of a 2017. Iconic, the longevity of its magic is arguably, still a major influence on the production of recorded music.
And what other musical group would have their magnum opus reissued almost every ten years or so with a re-mastered version of some kind? Once again, this week for the 50th anniversary, Sgt. Pepper is to be released in four formats and a “super deluxe edition” with all sorts of new goodies of remixes, outtakes and other material inserts. News of this prompted me to go into the vault and dig out my original copy of the LP.
I picked up my own treasured Sgt. Pepper at Toronto’s legendary Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street. Still a happy memory, that trip downtown was an event in itself as I recall, lining up to find piles of the LP’s stacked up on the floor with a mangle of arms and hands grabbing in a frenzy for this unbelievably different sound from the Beatles. Of course, at that time you had to wait until you got home to the sanctuary of your bedroom to actually listen to it.
Judging by the musty smell of the album cover and the dog-eared corners of the jacket, scotch taped in sections of the sleeves, it would appear I must have worn that album out, replay after replay. This album marked the beginning of my creative flourishing, a defining moment of inspiration for writing poetry and songs, finding self-expression.
The music had colour, the lyrics were fresh with imagery and every song was a story, inviting you into a new world full of vivid fictional characters, from Billy Shears to Mr.Kite and Lovely Rita to Lucy in the Sky. My mind’s eye still sees those “newspaper taxis appear on the shore” and “of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz”, while I’m “sitting on the sofa with a sister or two”.
Happy Birthday Sgt. Pepper, but I don’t know that a 50th anniversary remix sound box needs to prove to me that Pepperland was and is still a bright and delightful dream world, still flourishing with age – and even with the scratchy grooves, pops and clicks on my 1967 vinyl, I’m still getting by with a little help from my friends. My musical ride still runs fine on my forty-year-old turntable.