Last night in the theatre, while waiting for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to start, my friends and I were discussing The Beatles and our favourite songs. Sharing facts and legends we’ve learned throughout our lives. This conversation started because it turns out that Cat’s boyfriend doesn’t like The Beatles (wtf, I know). So she’s making up a mix tape of sorts with her 10 favourite Beatles songs and a little story to go with each of them to learn him up real good. This is a grand idea.
So today, after calling my Dad and shotgunning his complete Beatles vinyl collection (and CD, just in case), I have set off to do just that. Pick 10 Beatles songs I love, and explain why. I’m having trouble already, so far I have 27 short-listed. And that took a lot of work. I just love too much, I guess.
So, instead, today I’m just going to focus on my favourite Beatles album.
As a result of a vaguely recent refresher crash course in music appreciation, I remembered that creating a good album is a work of art. There is a distinct difference between a good album and a collection of good songs that happen to be on an album. And in this day of playlists, shuffles and singles, I often forget that I am quite fond of (understatement of the year) listening to an album in full, and appreciating its intricate beauty (it’s ok, I’m gagging a little too), and unconsciously memorising how one song melds seamlessly into another. A good album not only has great songs, but tells a story, that flows, and it’s a story you can and want to listen to over and over again. Each song builds on its predecessor and compliments its successor. And with this in mind The Beatles, as it happens, have released one of my favourite albums of all time:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967
Anyone who knows me, and this album, would nod their head knowingly when I say this album is one of my favourites. I was introduced to this album when I was 5 or 6 years old. Old enough to have figured out how to get at it, pop it into my Dad’s CD player (I wasn’t allowed near the vinyl, and with good reason) and press GO; but young enough that there are orange juice spills, peanut butter and porridge plastered into the cracked case and liner notes. I discovered this album purely due to the cover art. The colourful outfits and plethora of people adorning the front of the CD had me hypnotised as a child, and holy shit, did I go off the deep end when I learned there were more brightly coloured pages inside! My head must have exploded with happiness with each turn! And to think I couldn’t even read yet.
Of course the artwork for that album deserves a whole discussion of its own, as it’s probably one of the greatest, most famous and parodied pieces of album cover art ever. So off you go, read up on wikipedia and we can discuss the OPP shout out and the “Paul is dead hoax” later!
But for now I will reminisce sitting on my Dad’s zebra chair, listening to that album so often, while flipping through the CD booklet in time with the songs, that even he tired of it and would plug in a pair of headphones and plonk them on my head. Unfortunately for my family the headphones did not block out the sound of me singing along at the top of my little lungs to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I would just sit there all day listening, occasionally getting up to bop around to When I’m Sixty-Four. Sometimes my Dad was so tired of hearing it he would hide it on me. Understandable really.
As with the album art, you can go ahead wikipedia or allmusic exactly why this album is amazing, there is no need for me to go into the technicalities as to why this album is one of the greatest ever. I could wax lyrical all day about the concept, the flow of the songs, the imagery, the framing, the experimentation, the writing, the future influences, and the musical doors it opened. But the main reason why I think it’s truly amazing is purely sentimental: It reminds me of being a kid, and just enjoying things without thinking too deeply about them. Looking at pretty colours and listening to melodic sounds. And each time I listen to Sgt. Pepper, it just gets better and better.
Now, don’t even get me started on how spectacular an album Abbey Road is…