The Beatles’ illustrious eighth album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” lends itself to anniversary celebrations.
As heralded by the grouchy guitars and geriatric tempo of its title track, the central conceit of the album is that of a twentieth-anniversary concert by a once famous musical group that has returned from the oblivion of pop history to “raise a smile” on the faces of its aging, nostalgic fans.
At the time John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote that opening number, twenty years must have seemed like an eternity to them: more than enough time for a pop sensation like the Beatles, say, to fade from living memory.
As the recent media blitz of tributes surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of “Sgt. Pepper” illustrates, the Beatles and their alter egos in the Pepper Band are still very much with us––not least because “Sgt. Pepper,” more than any other single work, was responsible for generating the aura of artistic legitimacy that would institutionalize the presence of rock music in the mainstream of modern culture.
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