Tuesday, March 05, 2013

albums that changed my life

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

i don't know where i scored the LP from.  maybe a sister of a friend.  i really don't know.  but when i found it -- the record, the beatles -- i was obsessed.  i was 10 years old.  i was as old as the album.  the LP was released on june 1, 1967, the summer of love.  i entered this world on june 9th. 

not that the release of the record and my own appearance on the world is linked in any way.  except in my own mind and the fact that i thought of the album -- the sleeve had seen some hard times for it was scuffed and stained -- as belonging to an earlier time.  but this masterpiece was at the time only 10 years old.  a veritable baby still in the world.

i've always been a writer of some sort.  i was always writing something.  i wanted to become a lyricist and i wrote song lyrics that have happily disappeared in the intervening years.  and so the beatles's lyrics, especially 'a day in the life', had a profound effect on my own writing.  i even collaged some of the lyrics into a school paper a couple years later and was delighted when it was recognized and praised by the student teacher who wrote in red ink 'i love the beatles too.  she was a kindred spirit.

i wore that record out from continual playing.  i tried, in my limited way, analyzing the song structures, the movement, the sound mix, the different instruments.  and i loved the voice of john lennon.  some of the words were alien to me.  i didn't grow up in england so a reference to the house of lords was thrillingly exotic.  plasticine porters with looking glass ties was an odd bit of surrealism where the drug references were lost on a wee lad.  what did that matter.  the language used by the beatles conjured magic and mystery.  their songs inhabited my very cells. 

i became a lifelong fan of the beatles.  Abbey Road and Rubber Soul and Revolver each took their place in my obsessiveness.  but it is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that is the beatles greatest achievement that prevail my devotion. 


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