06 July 2007

Sgt Pepper

Jody Rosen at Slate asserts that Everything You Know About Sgt. Pepper's is Wrong. That's too strong a statement, I think, but this observation is lovely.
Playing Sgt. Pepper's for the umpteenth time, you marvel at what generous-spirited revolutionaries the Beatles were. Compare the “Don't trust anyone over 30” rhetoric of the Beatles' 1960s fellow travelers to “When I'm 64,” the sweetest song about old age ever created by a rock group. Then there's “She's Leaving Home,” which hitches one of McCartney's prettiest melodies to a lyric that sympathizes on both sides of the generation gap—with the runaway girl who is “meeting a man from the motor trade,” and with her grief-stricken parents:
We gave her most of our lives
Sacrificed most of our lives
We gave her everything money could buy.
It's a remarkable feat of the artistic imagination, but it may as well have been reportage: Many British parents were saying such things back in the spring before the Summer of Love.

“She's Leaving Home” doesn't turn up on the radio much, so if you you're not familiar with it, you can hear it over here, attached to a clumsy little video.

The song is a gem, and a big favourite of mine. I vividly recall my first college sweetheart telling me that that I would be amused to learn that after weeks of Bach in her music theory class, they had analyzed a Beatles song that morning. She was astonished when I immediately guessed correctly that it was “She's Leaving Home,” the darling of musicologists. That last chord is magic.

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