Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper
My friend Joshua sent me this link.
To be honest, Sgt. Pepper has never been a favorite of mine. When it comes to the Beatles, I like their early stuff, I like Revolver a whole lot, some of their latter-day tracks like “Revolution” and “Helter Skelter” are balls-out amazing, and Magical Mystery Tour is wonderfully psychedelic. Sgt. Pepper (especially the title track) has never been a fave of mine because it seems to try too hard (and, uh, “Sgt. Pepper?” What the hell kind of concept album is that?).
But listening to the title track with separation and punch-ins is really doing it for me this morning. Bereft of its words, and exposed in parts, this tune is amazing!
I dunno. I still have a hard time understanding what about this song was so earth-shattering at the time it came out. I get why Elvis’s Sun Records stuff was so groundbreaking and helped cause a teenybopper rock explosion. I get why the Ramones’ sound was so different that it helped foment an explosion of punk bands. I even get why “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and all that Ed Sullivan stuff made the Beatles explode on the U.S. scene.
But the way people talk about Sgt. Pepper–I mean, I remember one of the Monty Python boys saying that before Sgt. Pepper, the world was in black in white, and after it, we lived in color. I’ve read that one of the reasons why Hendrix got so big in England was that he was the first performer, the week Sgt. Pepper came out, to play live the title track. I’m not sure why this track or even the album in its entirety was considered such a launch above the already breathtaking Revolver, but maybe these deconstructed tracks go some way towards establishing what other people hear/heard in this tune that I missed.