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06/08/2017

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I know I've said this somewhere here before, but I went to high school with the girl who made the striped T-shirt that the Shirley Temple doll on the right is wearing.

I like a lot of the songs on this album, but unfortunately "She's Leaving Home" is not fun when you have had that experience, even if it was only for a week, and that's the first thing I hear when I see that album cover.

I started to listen to music when I was 12-on the radio in my grandparents bedroom when we went over there on Sundays for lunch after Mass. It was my own little paradise.

AMDG

Even before I was old enough to sympathize with the parents in "She's Leaving Home," I thought that last line was amazingly stupid: "Fun is the one thing that money can't buy." And the whole implication that "fun" was What It'S All About.

"Meeting a man from the motor trade." Yeah, we can guess how that will turn out.

But weren't you in high school when this came out? Or not far out? Your schoolmate moved into the big leagues awfully quickly.

When the Beatles came to Memphis, the local top 40 station, WMPS, had a contest for the best welcoming sign, and the winner got tickets to the concert. These two girls who were a year ahead of me in school. On the front of the T-shirt it says something like, the WMPS Good Guys Welcome the Beatles. I think she brought it to school and I saw it, but maybe not. Anyway, they won, and somehow when they were designing the album cover, the T-shirt came to light and they put it on the doll.

My father was an Oldsmobile dealer. ;-)

AMDG

OH, the T-shirt was for the Rolling Stones, not the Beatles.

AMDG

Odd, that. I also think SPLHCB is the best Beatles album, but my favorite is Rubber Soul, which I hope to review some time soon.

I agree about "She's Leaving Home," Mac. That line just ruins it for you.

I'm of the opinion that most of the time the Beatles were mediocre lyricists at best. They tend to be like adolescent. If only they had had a liberal arts education!

I'm pretty tied up today but will have more to say about this later. But, Janet, "man from the motor trade" always sounded to me like "used car salesman." :-)

As I said to Stuart, Sgt Pepper is so hugely praised that I can't help reacting a little bit. Greatest album of all time? Well, it's a bit silly to say that about any one album, but things like that bring out the contrarian in me, and make me want to take it down a peg. Resisting that, I certainly agree that it's a great album. It just never meant to me what it seems to for a lot of people.

I was in college when it came out, and I guess I'm probably one of a very few people reading this who were that old at the time. It certainly made a huge impression because it was so different from anything else. Thinking about that brings back the times, which were full of expectation. In the cold light of day, years later, just taking it purely as music...well, it's not my favorite. Some of the songs almost seem like throwaways, although they add up to an impressive whole.

I actually like Magical Mystery Tour better. I've always said that that's just my personal quirk, but I was pleased the other day to find someone actually making a serious argument for it:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448175/sgt-peppers-50th-anniversary-second-best-beatles-album

The addition of George Martin to the credits, btw, is just my bit of mischief. Stu didn't include it. I'm actually not sure whether it's justified but I've always heard that he was very important to the album.

Beatles as lyricists: I wouldn't say they're bad, their best songs are at least interesting and well-crafted in that respect. Profound guru-prophet stuff, no.

And that brings me to another reason for the take-them-down-a-peg impulse in me. Too many people made them into profound thinkes, which they aren't. I have friends who still credit them with some kind of breakthrough in consciousness, or something--it's not real clear to me.

Terry Gross interviewed Giles Martin (George's son, who is responsible for the remix) here.. I thought it was really interesting.

AMDG

I hesitated to say I would listen to it, because I'm not usually willing to spend that much time listening to an interview. But I see there is a transcript, so I'll read it.

Thanks for the link, Janet; really a lot of interesting stuff in that discussion.

This from Terry Gross is what I remember most about what it was like at the time of the album's release in 1967:

...one of the things that made this album such a kind of cultural turning point musically is that it was a psychedelic album. I mean, there were things going on in the album that seemed almost designed for people to listen to while smoking marijuana or taking LSD. There's, like, weird effects that people thought of as, like, really trippy.

No kidding! It was THE psychedelic album. One criticism of it has always been that that aspect of it covered up the weakness of some of the songs.

As a child and a young teenager, but particularly when I heard it as a child in New York, I loved 'She's leaving home.' I had a whole fantasy about running away from home which it fed into! I loved the idea of meeting a man from the motor trade. Of course that meant a second hand car dealer. In general, I always liked the Beatle songs that had a bit of a narrative or story, from 'Michelle' onwards.

Not surprising that a young girl would think that.

I think I'm going to listen to the album right now.

Ok, it's a great album. It's a little like some great artistic landmark, Hamlet or the Mona Lisa--sort of heard to just hear it for itself, trying to put aside its status and reputation and everything that's been said about it.

One or two further comments:

"I'd love to turn you on" is an unfortunate trivializing period to the most impressive piece on the album.

Whatever else you want to say about "She's Leaving Home," the string arrangement is really gorgeous. Martin's work, I guess.

I agree with Stu about the "sidedness" of LPs. I always liked it, too, and the break between sides is very effective on this album.

I don't think it is the best album ever, just the best Beatles album. And there is some dead wood on the second side, esp. "Good Morning, Good Morning."

As for there lyrics, yes, sometimes, esp. Paul, can tell a good story, although he often has to add something a little twisted or some kind of sexual innuendo in an adolescent way. E.g. "Lovely Rita," "Ob-la-di, ob-la da," John does it, too ("Norwegian Wood." I guess "Eleanor Rigby" is pretty serious, although the message in the end is vapid. The "I'd love to turn you on" line is also an example. It is like saying, "life is empty; smoke this (or let's have sex)."

Both John and Paul had a tendency to become trivial and even nonsensical, so there's just really nothing much to the lyrics. It always felt to me like they got to a point where they just didn't much want to bother, because they were certainly capable of great lyrics (I mean, in the pop context.)

To my taste "Ob-la-di" is an example. The tendency really took off on the white album. I'd say roughly half of its lyrics are forgettable or worse. For that matter I'd say half of it, period, is forgettable or worse. I do disagree strongly with Stu about its merits. I listened to it a few months ago for the first time in years, to see if my opinion would change, and it didn't. Much or most of it just seems cold and empty to me. I could probably pick out a single LP's worth of songs and enjoy it.

I read the Giles Martin interview and now I'm going to have to listen to it so I can hear those samples of the remixed versions. I don't really expect to hear much difference. I sort of hope I don't so I won't be tempted to buy it.

I thought that might happen. You can hear the difference even on a car radio.

AMDG

I really wasn't expecting much difference, partly because I don't have that good an ear, and partly because a friend of mine who has a much better ear doesn't seems to find the differences all that noticeable.

I think if you've listened to the original a billion times, you'll notice.

Greetings from Silver City, New Mexico everyone. I don't really have anything further to add except that every woman named "Rita" I have ever met has forced me to sing those lyrics in my head.

After I quickly wrote the blog post I thought more about the George Harrison song and how I probably was annoyed by it as a child and felt it slowed down the fun I was having with the other songs - a weird interlude. Now I love it. But it remains a very interesting start to "Side 2".

How sad about The White Album, Mac! I just love it, all of it, and find it to be great fun. What about "Martha My Dear"? And O-bla-di is wonderfully fun - with that song it is all about the melody. I can already guess your reaction to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road"! :)

I'm tempted to go off on what I don't like about the white album, but it's too close to bedtime. I'll just stick with what I said earlier--cold and empty, at least half of it.

I can't remember who it was now, but somebody who was involved in the L.A. rock scene in the late '60s and knew Charles Manson said that if Abbey Road had come out six months (or some number) earlier, "Sharon Tate would still be alive." That's probably not true, but it made a kind of sense to me.

On the other hand, though, I like Sgt Pepper more today than I did a week ago. I listened to the music bits in the Giles Martin interview, and yeah, there is a difference. Like a layer of dirt has been wiped off. I don't know if that first bit is from the remix or not, but my immediate reaction was that it's much heavier than what I hear on my cd.

My father explained to us what synchopation is by 'air piano' playing Lovely Rita, Metre Maid.' Its such a great song.

I've never truly understood what syncopation is. Either it's fairly obvious or it's over my head.

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