Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Summer of Love

I'm currently reading an Elton John bio, 'Elton', by David Buckley. It's a good one, with lots of info I never knew. Lots of Beatle stuff, too.

But it does perpetuate an ongoing myth out there regarding the 'transformation' of the Beatles, circa 1967. The book mentions that with the release of Sgt. Pepper the Beatles were suddenly unrecognizable. That they had undergone some tremendous change, not only physically, but musically as well.

I read and hear this over and over, and it's bullshit. The Beatles were constantly changing. And when Pepper came out in June 1967, neither their look or music was surprising to those of us who followed their every move at the time.

The single and 'video' for the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields had come out some four months earlier. So the mustaches and groovy threads were nothing new to us by June. Not to mention the fact that there were always new pictures of them in fan mags and newspapers.

John Lennon had cut his hair and began wearing his famous 'granny' glasses for the film How I Won the War in the late 1966, and photos of his new look were everywhere.

And regarding the music, after Rubber Soul and even more so with Revolver (released a year before Pepper), we were already hearing 'psychedelic' sounds, backwards effects and sitars.

For fans, nearly all of the Beatles' changes seemed natural and organic. I do recall having mixed emotions regarding my first sighting of their mustaches on the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields 45 sleeve, but hardly surprised.

People seem to have this notion that the Beatles changed overnight. It didn't happen that way. And when I hear someone say it, I recall a comment the Queen made to someone around that time: 'The Beatles have become awfully strange lately, haven't they?' No, your majesty. It was gradual. You just weren't paying attention.


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