When I'm sixty four minus twenty four
It's unmistakably poignant that just as the record business' horribly painful and potentially fatal transition continues to tumble, this amazing artifact, so emblematic of when music was much more important to humankind and therefore capable of reaching greater heights of artistic expression, reaches this anniversary.
Where to start? Perhaps the visual. The assembled crowd cover art that now in the CD version comes with its own ID key. I always loved the fact that Bowery Boy, Leo Gorcey, clearly a great intellect, wanted to get paid for having his image included on the cover so he was painted out. Way to sense an opportunity for posterity there Leo ya friggin' knucklehead!
And then there were those garish satin military slash band uniforms and Lennon disarming the whole circus aspect of the costuming by tucking his hands in the front of the pants in one of the inside shots.
Musically, the riches as they say, are embarrassing. I often say that the longer time presses on, the larger and more savory the Beatles accomplishments become. My favorite musical moment here is Lennon’s sunny "Getting Better" and the one falsetto call and response verse, where with a single line he disarms everyone who thought this tune was simple minded rubbish by interjecting, "It can’t get no worse."
Is it the goliath of popular music that it's been lauded as for the past 40 years? Is it even the best Beatles record? My instinctual distrust of anything that's acclaimed as being this influential tells me the answer is NO. To be fair, time has dimmed the luster. So much time and music have passed that there's no way it could be the surprise it once was. The Beatles themselves went on to eclipse it. In a personal way, the White Album and Abbey Road have always resonated a little more for me. But again it's not about what this singleless hit album does now, it's about what it did then, which was show what could be done with a four track tape recorder after the Beatles stopped touring and concentrated their energies in the studio. Ah, the days when giants, musical giants roamed the earth and the release of an album of music was a cultural event. When did that last happen? Nevermind, which is 16 years distant now?
More proof that singles are the new weapon of music business choice. The Now series, which aggregates hits from Universal music labels is the favorite of my 11 year old nephew and his pals. When asked what record I can get him his standard reply is, "What volume are they up to now."