As I continue in my journey through Tom Moon’s 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die (and, mind you, I’m not going straight through it, because I have come across some recordings that I can’t easily locate yet…I’ll work on those later), the next stop was,
as noted in the title, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles. This album was produced in 1967 on Capitol Records. The caption for the article is “Lend Me Your Ears…” This may be the most famous album by The Beatles. I’m not sure about that…if I took a poll, what would you say? Some might say Abbey Road, perhaps. And the thing is, you really have to kind of ignore all the analysis and studying that has been done on this album. If you’re going to listen to it, just listen. You might be better off not even trying to find any “hidden meaning” to it, although you would be hard pressed to listen to “A Day in the Life” without thinking that there must be drug references in there somewhere, right?
Mr. Moon’s “key tracks” on this album are “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “A Day in the Life,” and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
The album starts with a little introductory piece, called the same thing as the album title. It begins as though you are attending a show and the band is being introduced. Then you get introduced to a band member, who will sing the second song. His name? “The one and only Billy Shears!!!” What? Who? Oh, yes, and this was fuel to the fire in later years as we debated whether or not “Paul is dead!” But it wouldn’t make sense for it to be Paul’s replacement, would it? After all, it was RINGO who sang lead on the next song, “With A Little Help From My Friends!” Joe Cocker later made a hit out of that song, singing it much slower and more bluesy. The third track on the album is “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” It’s hard to ignore the fact that the letters to the main words in that song spell L.S.D., isn’t it? And just listen to the lyrics…”tangerine trees and marmalade skies…” “Cellophane flowers of yellow and green towering over your head…” “…the girl with kaleidoscope eyes…” John Lennon swore the lyrics were inspired by a drawing from his son Julian. He denies any drug reference in that song.
I’m also fond of “Fixing A Hole,” although I’m not sure I get the meaning on that one.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”
Talk about some strange lyrics…
There’s another sitar-centric piece on this album, too, called “Within You Without You.” The lyrics are actually very interesting and meaningful. They seem to speak about peace among people, highlighted by the lines, “We were talking/About the love that’s gone so cold/And the people who gain the world/And lose their soul/They don’t know, they can’t see/Are you one of them.”
We also have the delightful “When I’m Sixty-Four” on this album. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” Simply a song about growing old together. This is followed by the fun, “Lovely Rita.” “Give us a wink…”
There is a reprise of the opening “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and this is followed by the very strange “A Day in the Life.” Have a listen…
The infamous last note is reported to have used three pianos and eight hands playing the chord. Another person also played the chord on a harmonium. The chord sustained for over forty seconds. It is one of the most famous final notes in music history.
How much of Sgt. Pepper’s is drug-influenced? We’ll never know, will we? But there is some great music on this album, and some incredible imagery.
Just for kicks, I’m throwing in a brief summary of the most recent album I ripped from vinyl. It was another Christmas selection, this time by Perry Como. It’s called Home For the Holidays.
I have to say, I loved listening to Perry Como when I was a youngster. This particular album, though, is not just Perry. There is a children’s choir that sings a few of the songs on this one. Published in 1968, on RCA Records, it begins with a medley of “Here We Come A-Caroling” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” This is followed by the title track. Both of these are sung by Perry. Following that is one of the children’s choir numbers (Hugo and Luigi’s Children’s Choir), a medley of “Deck the Halls” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Next is “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” by Perry, “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” by the children, and “Jingle Bells” by Perry. Side two begins with a rather lengthy rendition (but quite pretty) of “Ave Maria” by Perry, followed by Joy to the World, also sung by Perry. The children’s choir continues with “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and then Perry does “O Holy Night.” I’m sorry, Perry…it was nice, but Josh and Celine both do it better. The last number by the children is a medley of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” I find it odd that that song is featured twice on the same album. It’s not like there aren’t enough different Christmas songs to fill up a twelve song album. Perry closes the album with “Silent Night.” It would be interesting to see how many Christmas collections close with “Silent Night.”
It’s a very pleasant offering with the rich baritone voice of crooner Perry Como. A throwback to days gone by. I believe that I “inherited” it from my Grandmama’s small record collection.