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Posts Tagged ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

At number 1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “A Day in the Life”. This song is the last track on the band’s seminal album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is consistently rated the best album of all time by many different experts and lists. See, for example, my own blogpost about Rolling Stone’s greatest albums of all time, here.

It may come as a surprise to many of you that this is the song Rolling Stone Magazine have chosen to be the greatest Beatles song of them all. In some ways it surprises me. Although I like this song a lot (I would put it in my top 20 Beatles songs), there are others which I would put above it based on the assumed criteria which Rolling Stone Magazine have used to rate Beatles songs, which seem to me to be

  1. impact
  2. inventiveness and/or originality and
  3. just a great song

Based on these assumed three criteria, I would say that “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is clearly the song which had the biggest impact on the music world and on The Beatles, because it was their break-through song in the United States. No other song by The Beatles had such a profound effect on the course of popular music, or on the band’s own destiny.

In terms of inventiveness, I would say that, for example, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” are more inventive songs than “A Day in the Life”. Yes, “A Day in the Life” is an inventive song, but there isn’t really anything in it that The Beatles had not already done in terms of studio techniques.

It is, definitely, a great song. No arguing with that, in my opinion. And it is one, if not the, last example of a collaboration between Lennon and McCartney. In fact, it is two unfinished songs stitched together. Lennon had composed a song based on some newspaper stories, real-life events and his recent experience of acting in the movie “How I Won the War”, but it didn’t have a middle-eight or chorus. McCartney had started on a very different type of song, a whimsical ditty based on his memories of going to school on the top deck of the bus. The band decided to put the two very different songs together, to create a masterpiece.

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At number 1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “A Day in the Life”

Here are the lyrics of “A Day in the Life”. There has been much speculation as to who the man was who blew his mind out in a car. Most experts seem to agree that it was socialite Tara Browne, who died at the tender age of 21 when he drove his Lotus √Član into the back of a parked van. The “4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” comes from a newspaper story which Lennon read about potholes in the roads in Lancashire. The line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” is just pure genius.

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph

He blew his mind out in a car;
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords

I saw a film today, oh boy;
The English army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book

I’d love to turn you on

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late

Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Ah I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

I’d love to turn you on

Added to the lyrics which Lennon wrote is the beautifully haunting sound of his voice. With a little bit of echo, it floats in space. No one has a voice like John Lennon, it has a magical quality to it which is there in spades in this song. An ethereal, haunting quality to it. With lyrics like “I’d love to turn you on” and “…had a smoke….and went into a dream”, the song was banned from many radio stations for supposed references to drugs and getting high. Both Lennon and McCartney have denied that their lyrics had anything to do with drugs, and not long after this song they became fairly open about their drug taking, so had no reason to lie.

Thankfully, this hauntingly beautiful song is available on The Beatles’ official Vevo channel, so here is a link to it which will presumably not be removed. Enjoy!!

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At number 19 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. Credited as usual to Lennon and McCartney, this song is pure John Lennon, with its psychedelic imagery and word-play. Along with the fact that the words in the title seemed to spell out LSD, the psychedelic imagery in “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” has led many to believe that this is a song inspired by, or about, drugs. Lennon always denied this, even though he was quite open about taking LSD and other drugs.

His explanation, repeated on many occasions, is that the title was inspired by a painting which his son Julian brought home from school one day. When Lennon asked Julian what the painting was, his son replied “It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds”. Lennon decided he would write a song around what he felt was a great title, with much of the lyrics being inspired by his love of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The lyric “newspaper taxis” refers to the taxis used to pick up newspapers in Fleet Street and drop them for sale at the various street vendors for people on their way home from work.

“Lucy” was never released as a single in the Disunited Kingdom, although it was released as a jukebox single in the USA (that is, a single specifically for playing on jukeboxes, but not for general sale). “Lucy” was recorded in March 1967 and is the third song on the first side of their seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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At number 19 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.

The lyrics of “Lucy” are, in my opinion, simply amazing. They evoke such imagery, only John Lennon of the members of the Beatles could write lyrics like this. I had listened to it for several years on an old record player, but for my 18th birthday I got a fairly high-end turntable, amplifier and speakers. This was the first time I heard the bass-line of “Lucy”, which I must say is quite funky and shows what a good bass player Paul McCartney is. 

 

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

Newspaper taxies appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you’re gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds, ah

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

 

Here is a video of this amazing song. Enjoy!

 


Which is your favourite song on Sgt. Pepper?

 

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At number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. If this were a list of the “best selling albums ever” then this album would be number one; “Thriller” has sold about 65 million copies Worldwide.



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“Thriller” was released in 1982, and was Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album. It was preceded by “Off the wall” and was followed by “Bad”. This is a screen capture from the Wikipedia page about Thriller.




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The video for the single “Thriller” was a breakthrough in its length and complex coordinated dancing. It is more like a mini-film than a video, with a long lead-in before the song starts where Michael Jackson woos a girlfriend, played by an ex-Playboy model Ola Ray.



So, if “Thriller” has sold more copies than any other album, how come this albums is at number 20 and not at number 1 in this list? Remember, this Rolling Stone list is not a list of best selling albums. When we get to number one, which I will tell you now is The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” (that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone!), we can discuss maybe why the top 10 are the albums they are, and why “Sgt. Pepper” comes out top of nearly every list of greatest albums ever. We will see that most of the top 10 in this list are not in the list of top 10 best selling albums.

Maybe the thing that was so different about “Thriller” was how many singles were released from it. Back in the 1960s, in what could be called the rise of “the album”, The Beatles would not include most of their single releases on their albums. The album considered to be the greatest of all time, Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper” does not contain one track which was released as a single. The single and album market were seen as totally separate markets.

Throughout the 1970s there seemed to be an unwritten rule that an artist would release two or maybe three singles at most from an album. Often it was just one track, and anything more was conning the public. “Thriller” changed all that. There are nine tracks on the album, and of those nine no less than seven (yes, 7!!) were released as singles.

Do you think this album deserves to be higher than number 20? Do you think it deserves to be the best selling album of all time?

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