Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'd Love You To Turn Yourself On And To Choose The Stations

Posted by olvlzl.
I didn’t own a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, my brother did but like most other people my age I can sing every song on it. Allowing for getting the order of verses mixed up a bit. As I reminded myself here last week, I’m not quite 64 yet but it’s getting closer all the time.

The Beatles weren’t my favorites. I’m one of the minority of geezers who has never owned one of their albums, at least not yet. They were better than the Rolling Stones who I have always loathed. The Beatles did try new things and didn’t just rip off the blues and revel in racist stereotypes and male supremacy.

It was nice to find out the other day that some of the things I’d always believed they’d done with very sophisticated manipulation of tape were actually done live with session musicians in the Abby Road Studio. And they’d provided beer. Everyone knew that the Beatles had hired some of the best classical musicians in the world for their albums, Ray Premru, the very great trombonist, being just one. But I’d always figured that “A Day In The Life” was more the product of tape splicing and effects, in the end. Someone in The Beatles were listening to the avant guard of the time. Penderecki's Threnody, the tape music of Ussachevsky and a number of others must have figured into the listening of at least John and Paul and most likely all of them. George, of course was studying Indian classical music as well.

Hearing the album played on the 40th anniversary of its release brought back an atmosphere of freer thought. People seemed a lot less dogmatic about things back then. At least the ones I knew were. You could believe anything you wanted to as long as you didn’t hurt anyone in the process. Diversity, even eccentricity is as desirable in the intellectual life of the world as it is in the biosphere. It’s the free exercise in diversity that seems to be what was really lost over the years. Maybe it’s the constant pressures to conform to one of the several recognized ideologies that makes people so much more ill tempered than they were back then too. Maybe it’s what happens from the Stones still being around. I’m feeling nostalgic for a time when you could count on not being jumped on by thought police when you suggested alternative ideas.

It’s all right if young people never listen to their grandparents’ music, times change. But it would be nice if they could know what it feels like to be comfortable with thinking for themselves in an atmosphere of less hostility and violence. I’d rather see them getting by with a little help from their friends than from the culture of commerce and propaganda, the only flavors of thought allowed in today’s media.

* Rubber Soul and Revolver still seem more innovative to me, something I was stunned to hear Dan Damon of the BBC and I agree on. We don’t agree on much else. Day Tripper or Baby You Can Drive My Car are more likely to go through my head than anything from Sgt. Pepper. Something of a mixed blessing.

I also enjoyed the parody elements of Frank Zappa’s “We’re Only In It For The Money” too, though Zappa’s facile cynicism doesn’t wear as well for me as the more complex Beatles album. I’d rather end up making a fool of myself for the right reasons than to start out being one for the wrong reason.