Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band


Andrea Wilson

08 February 2012 19:23

Thank you again for such a superb contribution Andrew. Lucky us for happening to tap into a Beatles fanatic and gifted writer! The most interesting thing to me is the continual state of reinvention and renewal they went through to grow as a band. Sometimes we just get tired of ourselves and taking on a different form really helps shake things up.

There was bound to be a battle of wills (or healthy creative tension ;) behind the scenes, and it's fascinating to hear what followed this album to give the band even more space - the White Album, becoming individual artists and giving in to the natural flow in 'Let it Be'. Sometimes we just have to let things go in order to become who we truly are.

Andrea Wilson

14 December 2011 02:15

Andrew, I am remiss in not responding sooner to such a fab commentary. Can I start by say thank you for your insight and enthusiasm for everything Beatles...including their essence? Thank you! There are so many rich threads to pursue, I'm going to reflect on my flight to New York and respond soon. Watch this space.

Andrew Giangola

02 December 2011 17:11

Lovin' me some Beatles essence.

What's striking about the concept driving Sgt. Pepper is the utter brilliance of what Paul was doing not only musically but to motivate a band in need of a kick in the ass.

At the beginning, the Silver Beetles were unquestionably John Lennon's band. But by 1965, the leader of the group that became the world-famous Beatles had, with an assist from Bob Dylan, started smoking marijuana then enthusiastically taking other drugs including LSD. (There are colorful Peter Fonda stories for another day.) Like the other Beatles, particularly George Harrison, Lennon hated touring. It was a musical joke; the band couldn't even hear itself over the banshee wail of thousands of shreiking teenage girls. And then there was that fame thing, being more popular than Jesus Christ and all. By 1967, John was tired of the Beatles and the whole notion of "being a Beatle."

By the "summer of love," John had become quite lethargic. He'd even put on weight in '65-'66, an extra source of depression piled onto to the burden of unplanned fatherhood and marriage as well as the painful never-resolved childhood abandonment by both his father and mother. John's role in the Beatles eager splay-legged front man, witty spokesman, principal song-writer continued to steadily decline as the decade so strongly influenced by the Beatles wore on. Look at the early #1 singles: John had composed most of them (at one point five in a row, I recall) but as he lost interest, the younger more medlodically adept Paul McCartney took up the slack. By the time the recording sessions of the defining studio album that would become Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band had begun, Lennon was certainly sick and tired of being a Beatle.

A group that began as clearly John's, by 1966 had become Paul's band, at least as its musical director and most aggressive business leader, chief publicist and world ambassador. With Sgt. Pepper, you have Paul, always pushing for the next thing (like the next project" the erratic and disappointing film, "Magical Mystery Tour") coming up with this idea of musical alter egos, adopting the faux "club band" group, stepping into another identity. In a sense, in participating in this musical endeavor, John didn't HAVE to be a Beatle, the identity he was growing to hate. He could be part of this "other" band. Paul was using sophisticated, utterly brilliant psychological tactics to pump up his depressed and recalcitrant best mate.

Ironically, following the almost universally renowned "Sgt. Pepper," the boys would soon lay down the double-record simply known as "The White Album". They did it less as the all-for-one and-one-for all group and more as individual musicians; immensely popular, supremely talented, yet for the most part, overlapping solo acts, arriving at the Abbey Road studio and serving as back-up for songs each had written in solitude away from the group. The strong, sometimes acrimonious divisions marking the Beatles musical preferences and individual personalities would be visible to all in their next film, "Let it Be."

Following the Sgt. Pepper alter ego experiment, The Beatles were no longer a true tight cohesive all-for-one-and-one-for-all band. The Fab Four had changed forever, and weren't long for this world. Their music, of course, will always live on. For me, as John sang, it's getting better all the time.

- Andrew Giangola (not too far from Strawberry Fields), New York, NY