But what a collection of songs! I remember as a 13 year old being especially impressed with the antiphonal nature of "She's Leaving Home." I remember enjoying the sound of the orchestra tuning up at the beginning of the album and how great the piano in "Lovely Rita" was. I also remember listening with the headphones. I spent a lot of time on the couch with the headphones on (for all the young people out there - this was back in the day when headphones had to be connected to the stereo with a long coiled wire.) The end of "Lovely Rita" has a section where John Lennon says something a couple of times that sounds enough like the way my mom said "Bob" that I pulled off the headphones and asked what she wanted the first few times I listened to the album.
It turns out that I wasn't the only person who thought that this was a cool album. A few other people did too and, in the forty years since it's release it has gone on to be listed among the top all-time albums. Ironically, it is probably not the Beatles' best album – I (and many others) think that it's predecessor, Revolver, deserves that title. But "best" is a relative term of course and, while Revolver might be better, it certainly didn't have the impact that Sgt Pepper had. Revolver came across as a really really good collection of songs where Pepper made us think that it was a concept album. John Lennon said that the concept worked because they said it worked. I think he's right. There really isn't much of a concept there once you get past the first two songs and the "Sgt Pepper Reprise." But packaging and attitude count for a lot. Plus, there is no getting around the idea that nothing had ever sounded like that before – or since really.
Frankly I find it hard to believe that the stuff that I thought was so cool when I was 13 years old still so cool. But there it is – I thought it was great back in 1967 and I still think it's great. When Bethany, my oldest daughter, was little I taught her to say "the Beatles" when I said "Bethany, who's our favorite?" That was nearly twenty years ago when I taught her that but it's still true.