The One and Only Billy Shears

Beatles07 I love how has kept Dan DeLuca's Sgt. Pepper column high on the page for the past few days, but I think I have to disagree with my whipper-snapper of a colleague about the import of that Summer of Love classic.

Yes, I'd rate Rubber Soul and Revolver higher, as better music, when I listen to them today, when the songs pop up in lonely isolation on my shuffle and all that.

But what he doesn't get here is what impact this record had at the time. It was a mind blower.

If you are too young to remember how it felt as the next Beatles record took you further down uncharted roads, maybe this one doesn't hold up. But if you were there...

Granted I was all of 11 that summer, but I've got vivid memories of the era. One was while I was at summer camp and "All You Need is Love," played on the AM radio. (Maybe WMEX in Boston?) It started off with a nod to The Marseillaise, and ended with a warped revision of She Loves You. Andy Kaufman (not that one), my counselor, said in a knowing voice, "The Beatles are getting stranger."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, indeed.

Then came Pepper. My older brother got it for his 15th birthday, and I remember leaving camp for the day with my parents, sister and brother. We played at my grandparents beach house in Dennisport, on a Zenith hifi with detachable speakers. (Or was it a KLH?) The sonics probably would sound like hammered crap today, but at the time, this was expansive stuff, even if my parents had only bought him the mono version.

When I opened that album to see the ice-cream colored circus uniforms the lads wore, and their cheesy mustaches, I got my first whiff of the revolution.

That was the summer that Provincetown came alive for me - I haunted the Army Navy shops, buying coats with stitches sewn over bullet holes, and turned my head in marvel at a shop called Krackerjacks, if I remember right.  Maybe they spelled it with a C. Incense burned and the music seared and strange creatures moved about in Daddy Warbucks garb. They sold paisley Neru jackets and that sort of fringed cowboy jacket that David Crosby would wear. God, I lusted after one of those.

Rubber Soul evokes none of that. Neither does Revolver.

Points to Sgt. Pepper just for conjuring such strong memories.

Posted 06/03/2007 11:08:48 AM

I'm too young to appreciate the career trajectory of the beatles and where Sgt. Pepper's fit. It *was* one of the earliest albums I got on CD, but I confess that I've never understood the awe and reverence the Beatles (or Brian Wilson) inspire in people of a certain age. I guess you had to be there. I *do* understand the excitement of digging through the bins at the PTown Army Navy, though. That's timeless!

daniel rubin
Posted 06/03/2007 11:13:35 AM

we'd stop at the beaches in truro after PTown and dig into bags of fudge and penny candy that had melted into one, then drive home on the bus, all salty and sandy and wet and deliriously high on sugar and sun.

Susie from Philly
Posted 06/05/2007 01:38:36 PM

My God, the P-Town Army Navy. I wonder how many times our paths crossed before we finally met. "Sgt. Pepper" was the album when we ALL started getting strange. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Posted 06/06/2007 06:55:58 AM

Welcome back, Blinq! Thanks for the perspective on Sgt. Pepper's. I'm a little younger than you, but I have similar feelings about its impact. After that one came out, I "updated" all my early Beatles albums, which my uncle had bought me, drawing the new mustaches and specs on the cover shots of the first few albums. You might be interested in this recent finding:

daniel rubin
Posted 06/06/2007 03:25:14 PM

I checked out the link. Holy crap!

Posted 06/15/2007 04:56:43 PM

Welcome back! Long live the Blinq.

Jerry Waxler
Posted 07/07/2007 08:03:16 AM

Hi Daniel, It's great to see you blogging. Thanks for the informative talk about blinq at the Philadelphia Writers Conference this year. As a boomer myself, one of the hardest things about all those huge memories is to make them uniquely your own. I wrote a blog entry you might be interested in that shows how Revolver affected me in 1967. Hope you enjoy it.