The act you’ve known for all these years

This one is personal.

As the summer of 1967 approached, I was leaving elementary school and moving on to “junior high” (middle school these days).  I was 12.  I had been enjoying pop/rock music since at least 1964 and The Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and was significantly influenced by my big sister, who loved most of the mid-’60s pop and all the great Motown stuff.

But she hadn’t come along for the ride as The Beatles expanded their wings with the inventive material on “Revolver,” so I never heard those tracks (except the dreadful “Yellow Submarine” and the surprising “Eleanor Rigby,” which were radio singles).

I was puzzled and delighted, respectively, by the double A-side single “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” in February 1967, and wondered what might come next.

So when the landmark LP “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” showed up on June 2, 1967, I was dazzled, knocked out, blown away (like the rest of the world, apparently) Sgt._Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Bandas my friend Paul cranked it up on his stereo that fine summer day.  My first impression was, wow, there was SO much going on!  New instruments, intriguing sound effects, and an insanely broad variety of musical genres, including rock, big band, vaudeville, jazz, blues, chamber music, circus, music hall, avant-garde, Indian…

And holy smokes, what an array of truly astounding lyrics — printed on the back of the album for the first time! — lyrics about newspaper taxis and cellophane flowers, Wednesday morning at five o’clock, painting the room in a colorful way, some guy named Billy Shears, 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, and a band that’s been going in and out of style.

It was a revelation — so much so that, for the first time, I used my own money to buy my first album a couple of days later.

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