Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It Was Almost 40 Years Ago Today . . .

If you are of a certain age, you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated and Neil Armstrong made his moonwalk. To which it should be added, the first time you heard "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

The 40th anniversary of the U.S. release of the seminal Beatles album -- considered by many rock music pundits to be the greatest ever -- is not until June 2, smack dab in the middle of the Summer of Love. (I'll explain later why June was the "middle.") But I’m going to jump the gun because I like to blog out ahead of big anniversaries and most relievedly, this doesn’t have a freaking thing to do with Iraq.
The biggest thing about "Sgt. Pepper," of course, is that there had been nothing like it before.

From the drum staccato at the opening of the first (and title) song to the sustained final piano note out of the orchestra crescendo at the end of “A Day In the Life,” the album was a smorgasbord of innovative instrumentation and breakthrough recording techniques, famously including reverse taping effects.

Then there was its psychedelic aspect, which ignited my decades' long interest in that genre of exotic music and art. (Collecting, not ingesting.)

So where was I the first time I heard "Sgt. Pepper?" By golly, I remember like it was yesterday.

I bought the album on the morning it was released and looked forward to playing it when I got home after my shift as a police reporter for the local rag. But a nine-alarm factory fire kept me out until daybreak the next morning and I ended up playing it on the family room hi-fi at the home of the parents of my new romantic interest the following evening.

It wasn’t exactly make-out music. In fact, it was a huge distraction. But while my romantic interest faded by the end of the summer of the Summer of Love, my love of "Sgt. Pepper" knows no season.

* * * * *
The Summer of Love is considered to have begun on January 14, 1967, with the first Human Be-In in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and end on October 6 with the Death of Hippie march in Haight-Ashbury.

Knowing a good thing when they see one, promoters are taking full advantage of the nostalgic penchants of us oldsters with more events than you can shake a Glo-Stick at that are tied to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

Click here for a nice sum-up.

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