Not a Pepper Fan...
I'm not talking about the spice. I'm talking about the renowned (rightfully so), album put out by the Beatles 50 years ago.
If you know me, you know I am a big Beatles fan. "Back in the day" I ran a Beatles fanzine. I married a Beatles fan. (We met as a result of being Beatles fans.) We merged our collection (selling off duplicates). We have a "music" room that is pretty much dedicated to the Beatles. If you come to our home, there is no doubt that we are Beatles fans. I even have a Beatles inspired personalized license plate, but only a true fan would be able to pick it out.
Sgt. Pepper is a revolutionary album. It is an astonishing work. It changed the music world. But if you asked me to rank my favorite Beatles albums, it would be near the bottom. While I recognize it as perhaps the Beatles most important work (though I suppose, that, as all things, is debatable), rather than move me, it startles me. You might even say, it scares me.
It all comes down to the time when I first heard it. I was older than 6, but younger than 10. An impressionable time .A friend of mine played it on her record player. (I grew up in the 70s…records were THE thing to have.) She had older brothers and sisters who had albums to share. Hearing the whole thing through from start to finish truly did scare me. The album was full of strange and eerie noises to this child's ear. Sounds that were not comforting or known to this child. Like a scary clown lurking in around the corner, tracks such as "Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite," "Within You, Without You," and "A Day In the Life" raised the hair on the back of my neck. (Yes, I just compared the album to a scary clown!) Even "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "She's Leaving Home," and "Good Morning, Good Morning" left me feeling ill at ease. Give me the "safe" melodies of "With a Little Help From My Friends," "Fixing a Whole" or "When I'm 64." Unfortunately for this freaked out little girl, the eerie stuff outweighed the safe. (To add fuel to the fire, as I can recall, it was a dark, rainy autumn afternoon which just adds to the scariness factor.)
I'm not downplaying what a seminal piece of work this is. Certainly without it, my favorite Beatles album, Abbey Road, could never have existed. (And if you're curious, yes, "I Want You" freaked me out too! But that's only one track and many of my all time favorite Beatles tunes appear on it: "Something," "Here Comes The Sun," "Octopus' Garden" and the wonderful closing medley, "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.") It set a bar for every other album that would come after. It continues to awe and inspire. It even tops the charts 50 years later. (How's that for impressive?)
And I do enjoy it. It's not like I didn't go out and buy the album eventually. I had more than one copy on vinyl. I DO listen to it. I'm an adult now. I'm rationale and mature. (Oh, heck, I'm OLD. Even older than the darned album!) I can appreciate the album.
But if given the choice as to what album I'd like to play, I'm much more likely to go for Abbey Road, A Hard Day's Night, Let It Be or Help! For me it's like choosing a warm sunny day over a rainy one. Or, as a friend once pointed out to me, having a crush on Paul (who she deemed as "safe") versus John (who came across as much more dangerous...and to her exciting). There's nothing wrong with like one more than the other, even as we appreciate the talents of all four.
(Side note: Although I'm an "adult" now I not only skip over Revolution #9 , but "Long, Long, Long" when listening to The Beatles [aka " The White Album"]. Furthermore, the voice of the head Blue Meanie in Yellow Submarine still makes me squirm. Maybe I'm not as adult as I think I am!)