The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.
The specific song that affected Wilson so much was “A Day in the Life,” the last song on Sgt. Pepper. Perhaps it was that song’s final E-major chord that suffocated his creativity. That chord is a heavy door shutting on one of the Beatles’ most lyrically depressing albums.
Below the uplifting music, lyrics address loneliness, leaving, emptiness, and holes (fixing and filling them). And it’s this music/lyric dichotomy that is Sgt. Pepper‘s greatest strength. The album has character. It has emotions. It has good and bad days.
My dad framed his first pressing of Sgt. Pepper and hung it on the wall in his study. It’s one of the many albums he played around the house when I was growing up. As a child who preferred the make-up and theatrics of KISS and the Village People, I never appreciated the Beatles as I should have. I liked them, but at that time they were dad’s music.
Then came my teenage years and my flirtation with country music (old school, please, none of that Nashville pop) and hair metal bands. I remember shopping at Wal-Mart with my grandmother. This was when The Beatles’ albums were first released on CDs. I browsed the selections and almost bought Sgt. Pepper. I chose Guns and Roses instead.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I started to fully appreciate them and just how much they influenced all the other types of music I had been listening to. And when I was finally clued in, I wasted no time in catching up.
I admit that Sgt. Pepper is not my favorite Beatles album (that would be Rubber Soul). Still, as someone who appreciates darker lyrics, I find listening to it a satisfying experience. But it’s rare that I listen to it completely and in song order. I most often start with “A Day in the Life.”
Unlike Wilson, the song doesn’t choke my creativity. When I hear that final E-major chord and its slow ringing out, I start to think of how I can add to the song, what music I can write that could contribute to the art.
The greatest works of art are ones that inspire others to create more art, either through reflection or impersonation. That is why Sgt. Pepper sits atop Rolling Stone‘s Top 100 albums list. Listeners have found, and will continue to find, new things with every play. And they’ll want to immediately add their own views about it. Conversation rolls into conversation. Music into more music.
Unless, of course, you’re Brian Wilson.
Please visit these other blogs participating in The Rewind Button project: