Tag Archives: History

A Day in the Life; The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” turns 50.

22 May

I’d known of the Beatles for a few years.  My lovely older cousin Pat used to teach me how to dance to their music.  That began when I was four years old, and I had just lost my mom.  When I was five, Pat wanted to take me to see the band when they played at New York’s Shea Stadium.  She worked hard at it, but she was only a teenager herself and my grandma said “Patsy, the boy would be trampled!”

Of course Mama was correct, and I never got to see the Fab Four in concert.

Then, I turned six.  Things were changing; the world, the Beatles.  The boys started to look different.  My brothers, Ed and Kevin, both about a decade my senior, looked different too.  They looked more like the Beatles.

I finally owned my first full length lp.  I’d had a bunch of 45rpm singles given to me by Pat and my brothers, but owning an album was big time for me.  It was the North American release entitled, BEATLES ’65.  It was already over a year old, but it was new to me.  The three songs that opened that album weren’t in the happy-go-lucky “She Loves You” mold.

“No Reply”, “I’m a Loser”, and “Baby’s in Black”.

The titles tell the story.  That third track always reminded of how everyone had dressed at my mom’s funeral.

Then, Dad died.  It was right as I began first grade.

The Beatles stopped touring.  No one would ever see them in concert again.  They wanted to concentrate on making the best music possible, rather than just keep singing “She Loves You” to screaming fans.

As first grade came to an end, I was feeling accomplished – the way most of us do when we think we are getting “big”.  I lived with my grandma; my four older siblings resided together with our aunt.

One day, toward the end of that first school year, my big brothers came to visit.  They had a new album with them.  Ed was beginning to look a whole lot like Paul McCartney, especially the way Macca looked on that colorful new record sleeve.  We were going to experience, for the first time, SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.

Something seemed different as my brothers got set to play the record.  EVERYONE came into the room to listen; cousins, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Henry.  Hell, even Mama, almost 80, sat back in her chair as the needle dropped.  I, at age six, had no idea why everyone was suddenly interested in the Beatles.  I mean, Uncle Henry?  I recall he took quite the teasing as we listened to “When I’m Sixty-Four”.  He was probably just over fifty – and younger than I am now – but he laughingly took all of the “64” jabs with grace.

He took some shots about “Henry the Horse” as well.

As PEPPER played, I just wanted to get my hands on that record jacket.  It looked like it had so much; all kinds of people, lyrics, colors, and maybe even…clues.

I don’t have too many memories from when I was six years old, or younger, but oddly, most of the ones I do have revolve around the Beatles.

Rather than recount that initial playing of SGT. PEPPER via the bits and pieces of my foggy memory, I will include an excerpt from my novel, SONS OF THE POPE.  I used my actual experience to create a scene where a young special needs boy named Joey got to enjoy, with his family, the recent masterpiece by the band he loved so.  Joey had received the album as a Christmas gift, six months after its release.

“Hey, Joey,” said Kathy. “I got you something.”

She knelt beside him and took the brightly colored album

jacket out of the thin bag. The first thing Joey noticed were

the colors and the images of all the people. He recognized

W.C. Fields because Peter would always watch his movies,

but he didn’t immediately connect with anyone else—except

for the four lads in the kaleidoscopic military garb. They held

brass and wind instruments instead of guitars, and though

Joey could not read what was spelled out by the red flowers

at their feet, he knew.

Beatles.

Kathy helped him remove the shrink-wrap. She had

already taken off the Woolworth’s price sticker.

“Ooooh,” yelled Mary. “He’s gonna love that! We buy him

the little records, but those big ones are expensive. You

shouldn’t have done that, Kathy.”

“I know he loves the ‘Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane’

single; this album is like that.”

Joey’s grin was wide as he stared at the record cover. He

opened the gatefold and got a closer look at his favorite band

in their vivid garb.

“Let me lower the television set. Put the record on for

him,” said Mary.

As Kathy placed the record on Joey’s portable turntable,

Mary turned down the Christmas music. The yule log still

burned, though—a constant loop that reset every twenty

seconds.

“He loves that music, and it’s okay ‘cause he’s always with

me and can’t do any harm to himself, but I think this music

can lead kids to bad things. You know, the drugs and all,” said

Mary.

“Maybe, but it doesn’t have to. I don’t think drugs are

needed to expand the mind,” replied Kathy. “I think a needle

in the groove beats a needle in the arm any day.”

The family sat there as the recording began. They

eventually met Billy Shears and Lucy. Mama left her chair to

make some coffee, but the rest remained. They were taken

away to a color-splashed circus. Kathy flipped the record over

and they arrived in India, only to be quickly transported to a

1940s dance hall. It was at this time that Sal began thinking

of the old music that he loved so much. Mama returned in

time to hear a chicken cluck morph into a guitar pluck. The

military band that had unleashed this animal were now trying to

get it back in its cage. There came an incredible crescendo

that sounded as if all the music they’d ever heard was being

played at once. Then it stopped—but not before a thunderous

piano chord that seemed to echo into eternity. Mary wanted

to speak but wasn’t sure when to start, fearing another

explosion of sound. Peter beat her to the punch.

“Wow!”

“These are the same fellas that sang ‘I Want to Hold Your

Hand’?” Mary asked.

“Hmmmm,” replied Joey before another could answer.

“What did ya think, Ma?” asked Mary.

“Nice boys. But I like the Italian music. I wish them luck.”

Of my real family, from the factual version of my first exposure to SGT. PEPPER, I am the only living member who was in that room on that evening in June, 1967. I dedicate this memory, with love, to all of them.

Life goes on within you and without you.

SONS OF THE POPE is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine retailers. Also on Kindle, Nook, and Audiobook.

Backspace (Pts 1 and 2)*

3 Feb

A wise man in a long, flowing robe (dressed in this manner more due to laziness than as an indicator of social or historical stature) once mused that if one were to simultaneously play the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” backwards while playing anything by Parliament/Funkadelic forwards, they might be empowered with the ability to alter the past.

They also would undoubtedly be in possession of one hell of a nice stereo system.

Sidestepping the temptation to launch an audiophile rant, I will focus on my all-too-frequent thoughts about what I would do with the gift of time travel. I’d certainly follow my conscience (and satisfy Stephen King) by showing up in Dealey Plaza. I’d get my ass to the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis and outside the Dakota in New York City, too. I’d try to enlist help, but as I am of ample size and have two decades of police experience, I’m confident that my supernatural journey to these places would result in the desired outcomes.

I would also make sure that my friend Richie Aceto, and over 3000 other folks, would live to see September 12, 2001.

What I would do with that bulky, damp bag of terrorist heads is a problem I’d give just about anything to have.

After stops in Oklahoma City, the Ambassador Hotel in L.A. and some other areas of rectification, I might have a little time to myself. That would be when I’d address some extraordinarily lesser items of personal significance.

I’d try and uncover whomever it was that started ending sentences with the word “AT”. I’d do whatever it took to discover where he, or she, was “AT”. I initially thought this phenomenon began on the TV show “Cops”. I have yet to see an episode whereby a shirtless criminal hasn’t ended a sentence, and usually his freedom, with a preposition. In 40% of the episodes, the cops do it too. Hey, I’m often guilty of the preposition crime myself – just not with the word “AT”.

I’d go back and find my dear parents, who I lost in childhood. After some hugs, I’d ask them to please befriend somebody in the publishing world, so that in my future I’d have an easier path to getting in print (while “print” still exists) – you know, like Stephen King’s kid. Then I could also help the friends I have who are brimming with talent but low on the connection pole. I know some incredible geniuses who drive trains and police cars, bang nails all day, teach and so on, but they have no connections. If these types of people were part of the In-Crowd, then Snooki would not have published a novel and “Hot Tub Time Machine” would have never littered a movie screen.

I might do what I could to put an end to Mp3 and e-publishing before they ever got started. I love the internet, but I also loved music stores, bookshops and mom & pop video stores. I’m not a fan of the faceless society of hand-held everything instruments. We are becoming ALL THE SAME.

Trying to rein in my rambling now – please don’t judge my writing based solely on this blog. I don’t do much in the way of editing or second drafts – this is just a stream-of-consciousness blog. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I could never decide on a clear favorite Darren on “Bewitched” – if you younger types don’t know what I mean by that, please Google it, or if you are involved in time travel yourself, and will be lurking in the BG era (Before Google) – BGE for you non-religious types – you can phone that friend who knows all the trivia. Remember them? There’s a talent that has gone the way of the passenger pigeon. I wonder where all those fantastic trivia wizards are currently “AT”?

I was more of an Uncle Arthur fan.

Well, I just want you all ( if there are any of “you”) to think about something, please. Envision the majesty of Buckingham Palace or the beauty of the Vatican. Picture the East Wing of the White House or the top floor executive offices at Microsoft. Each and every one of those places has someone who cleans the toilets.

And I bet they have a special security badge that says so.

*There really aren’t parts 1 and 2 to this blog, it’s just that I have been listening to a lot of Isley Brothers.

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1377620004