I can remember where I was the first time I saw and heard Sgt. Pepper. I’m not going into any detail about stances … neither circum nor sub … but I’ll admit to a drummer named Charlie and some really pretty colors that drifted around as “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” premiered in my head FORTY years ago this month.
Excuse me? Can that be right?
Well, of course it can.
It was June, 1967, and I was just about to turn sixteen. I’d recently been relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to a hell of a Hooterville in Northern California called Red Bluff.
There was no doubt that I was too cool for school, and was even the subject of a call-in radio show on KBLF (K-bluff? Perfect … ), where hick parents accused me of wearing tights to ‘hide the needle marks in my legs’ … yes, that’s how much they knew about drug use — morons … and worried that I was out to corrupt the heck out of their drunken, redneck, brawling, screwing darlings with my peacenick ways and long-haired friends from out of town.
Yes, I had, thankfully managed to locate some hippies after my own heart in the bigger town up I-5 — Redding.
Days in the upper Central Valley in June are hot, and the heat lingers long after the sun takes its 9 pm dive over the horizon. It was an expanse of grass in someone’s front yard that seemed the ideal place to stretch out with Charlie and listen to the brand new Beatle’s album.
It was magic … total, complete, compelling, enthralling magic. Every track amazed in new ways, and with a little help from my friends who popped out with a new doobie every few minutes, Charlie and I were swimming in harmony, beat, notes, riffs and lyrics.
Who now doesn’t know all the words to “When I’m Sixty-four”, end any mention of “It was 20 years ago today … ” with anything other than, “Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”, and hasn’t woken up more than once with the special refrain of “Good Morning Good Morning”, a la the Fab Four running through the brain along with a bit of chicken talkin’?
Back then, however, it was all new, and it was breathtaking.
Paul McCartney is almost more than sixty-four now, and though I doubt he got many Valentines this year … being in the throes of a messy divorce and all … he does still have hair.
Heck, John Lennon has been dead for twenty-seven-and-a-half years, a thought that still makes me so very sad at the loss the world suffered on the 8th of December in 1980.
I’m weeks away from hitting the downhill slide from 55.
June 2007. Forty years after Sgt. Pepper. Wow.
And here’s a thought … it’s almost half way to 2008 already.