Well, 44 years and two months, April 23, 1973. Another birthday, another record album…from my cousins who I guess wanted to make sure my measly record collection at least contained the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll album of all-time. And so six years after everyone else, I’m sitting in my room listening to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time on my little plastic phonograph, all but blinded by the bright red back cover as I try to follow the song lyrics.
Starting with the title track (completely new to me and in that fun/goofy Beatles vein a la “Yellow Submarine”), I’m off on a wild, no-space-between-songs journey – supposedly the first album ever made with no spaces between songs. A big applause-filled blast-off and suddenly it’s “With a Little Help from My Friends” – the “hit” that I’ve definitely heard before, most likely as a schmaltzy, television-variety-show rendition. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” I recognize from a Muppets segment on Sesame Street. More new stuff follows, “Getting Better” and “Fixing a Hole,” both fine, optimistic tunes with perfect Beatles arrangements…then the melancholy “She’s Leaving Home,” which only a week or two before was a discussion subject in ninth-grade English class. And winding up side one, the magnificent “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” – my immediate favorite with its unconventional circus calliope sounds.
Side two brings on the rather lengthy “Within You, Without You” – with Indian instrumentation galore and without standard pop/rock fare…right into the jovial “When I’m Sixty-Four,” another fairly familiar tune from TV somewhere. “Lovely Rita” – never heard that one before but what a great piano solo…and dig that swirly psychedelic ending! A rooster signals the offbeat “Good Morning, Good Morning,” a barrage of barnyard animals transforms into the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, and finally, the other lengthy one, “A Day in the Life.” What a story there…about car crashes, war films, daydreaming, and holes. And that crazy crescendo at the very end! Yikes!
Today these songs to me conjure up images and memories not of the proverbial 1967 Summer of Love, but of the equally-proverbial 1973 Summer of…what, Watergate? And lo and behold, here we are, on the 50th anniversary of the album’s actual, official appearance, poised to enter the (probably proverbial someday) 2017 Summer of…Trumpgate. Which brings us to a day in the life of President Tweet:
Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill
You’re such a lovely audience
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s okay
And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong, I’m right
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Album images courtesy en.wikipedia.org, beatlesblogger.com, 45worlds.com; Trump images courtesy pinterest.com, trofire.com, democraticunderground.com, twitter.com, inquisitr.com
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC