Last Friday, June 2, marked the 50th anniversary of the American release of what many, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, consider to be the most influential album of all time. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” hit the shelves and the airwaves, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
I was all of six years old at this time, with four older siblings at home and the Beatles dominated the album cabinet and the old suitcase that contained the 45s.
Those of you reading this that remember 33 1/3 rpm vinyl albums and 45 rpm singles probably feel like I do when discussing music of this era. The first part of the discussion is technological (“You would stack records and one would play after the other finished?” “Yeah, kind of like an iPod, only much larger, much heavier and infinitely less sophisticated.”), the second part is much easier, because the music has endured.
In addition to the Beatles, the Guess Who, Steppenwolf, the Bee Gees (yes, they did exist before 1977) and the Beach Boys were often stacked up on the downstairs stereo that was encased in a wooden cabinet that my oldest brother built in shop class, as well as the smaller record players that were in the rooms of my sisters, who were gaga over the Beatles. That was, they were when my dad wasn’t around.
The Chief wasn’t a fan of the newfangled rock and roll music. Said it would never last. After my brother installed an 8-track (ask your parents if you don’t know) player in the car, the Chief did develop a fondness for Johnny Cash “Live from Folsom Prison.” I believe I heard that tape so many times I could still fake my way through “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog.”
But I digress...
My oldest sister, who was 17 the summer Sgt. Pepper came out, was in love with John Lennon. She had both of his books, as well as one of those little black and white hound’s tooth caps that he caused a sensation wearing. My other sister was 11 the summer of ‘67 and got Sgt. Pepper for Christmas, a prized possession that she still has today.
Music has a very unique way to evoke strong memories associated with the time that you heard the song. Some people have songs that they demand not to hear, because the memories are too painful. Others have songs that can transport them to a time and place that was special in their lives. “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog” evokes memories of taking the trash out to the town dump with the Chief and taking the long way home afterwards.
Much has been written about the Beatles, and in doing research for this column, Sgt. Pepper brought about many technological innovations for recording, including one of the first uses of the Dolby noise reduction system which is a standard now. The engineers had only four tracks to record all of the sounds, forcing some unique arrangements. The music was a product of its time and I’ll leave it to Beatles fans and historians to decide the significance of the album.
Perhaps it’s my age or my upbringing, but it still sounds pretty good to me, even after 40 years.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress. com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
Thanks for reading, I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.