So this is the “new normal?” Or is it a return to the “old normal?” Either way, regardless of how you spent this past year, regardless of your thoughts on the world, politics, and economics of the world, furrowing your eyebrows at this or that or embracing all the necessary and arguably unnecessary changes in the world, one needs a constant personal and universal soundtrack to keep going, to keep sane, to keep grounded and inspired. As the newest round of the holiday season gets ready to dawn upon us, music not only acts as the perfect and always obvious choices for even the most discriminating of tastes, but also something that brings much-needed relief and communion to end another challenging year and brace everyone for what lies ahead in 2022. So as always, here’s my picks for some of the sonic highlights released this year, spanning all genres and tastes.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the seminal and legendary album by The Beatles, which not only seemed to crystallize the band, but also the entire sensibilities of the youth of the globe during the mid to late 1960s, celebrates its 50th anniversary today.
Released in America on June 2nd, 1967, and a week or so earlier in the band’s native UK, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has become such a recognizable force in pop cultural history, it’s almost like a brand, a headquarters where so many musical and cultural influences spawned. From its rich and vibrantly complex yet totally welcoming cover to the same adjectives applied to the wide range and scope of music, which almost acts as a primer for every single style of music up to that point in musical history (pop, cabaret, vaudeville, psychedelia, straightforward rock) and even acting as a blueprint to just the around the corner genres that followed (like progressive and even acid rock), Sgt. Pepper is a true artifact of a time long gone and yet still acts as a straight arrow pulse right in contemporary society, whether it’s for novelty’s sake or reality’s sake.
Another historic plateau gets reached today as 50 years ago, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a television program which wound up exposing the Fab Four to millions of Americans right in the comfort of their living rooms and ultimately became one of the most-watched programs in television history.
Like many things The Beatles did during their hugely successful and illustrious career, the Ed Sullivan appearance stands as a high water achievement on the foursome’s resume. The band — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — had just touched down on American soil two days prior at JFK Airport to a huge brassy noise, as reporters and cameramen came in droves, almost seemingly climbing on top of one another to get the scant amount of intimate time they could with music’s new darling boys. The ensuing press conference was a massive success and that oft used, yet perfect adjective called Beatlemania was perfect to describe all the festivity as these native-born Liverpudlians enveloped the entire city of New York and the entire nation with their effortless grace and attitudinal charm. Millions upon millions of people either shrieked in delight or moaned and groaned in confusion; it simply depended on one’s age bracket. But that Sunday night’s performance at CBS Television Studio 50 in Manhattan would not only be the sonic bridge to make the entire country stand up and realize that The Beatles were a solid, here-to-stay entity, but a sonic bridge that eventually almost the entire world would cross again and again.
Today, February 7, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the The Beatles touching down at New York’s JFK Airport, arriving in America for the first time and signaling the entire beginning of what was to be coined “The British Invasion” and also unbeknownst at the time, the beginning of what was to become one of the most creative, vivid, influential, and turbulent decades – the 1960s. To commemorate the anniversary, a historical marker will be dedicated at JFK Airport this morning*.
Already upping the ante for themselves by having hit records before they left their native England to come to the States, The Beatles exploded in The United States upon their arrival, but not just because of the music. The four men — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr — nary a 25-year-old in the bunch, also handled themselves with the press, which was on a volume level on par with a King or Queen or President coming off that JFK airport tarmac. Decked in similar suits and the famous bowl haircut — which was shaggy enough to move around in the cold February air that day — The Fab Four dazzled the press and the country as Beatlemania was in full force.
The Fifth Beatle The Brian Epstein Story Hardcover | Kindle Edition
Written by Vivek J. Tiwary
Pencils by Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker
Inks by Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker
Letters by Steve Dutro
Colors by Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker
Cover by Andrew C. Robinson Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Cover Price: $19.99
The life of Brian Epstein, who discovered and managed The Beatles and who almost singlehandedly supplied the runway in which the band could propel itself to the greatest heights, is the subject of a dazzling, can’t put it down graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics, entitled what many thought Brian to be during his short and troubled, yet fascinating life, The Fifth Beatle.
The legend of who the Fifth Beatle actually was has been sussed out to be many other figures in the band’s folklore along with Epstein, figures like radio DJ Murray the K, who anointed himself as such in the most novelty and charming way, or long-time friends Mal Evans or Neil Aspinall, both of whom were with the band in their earliest makeups and wound up becoming key integral parts of the rich, sprawling history the group found themselves entailed in as the years went on. But to people like Paul McCartney, Brian Epstein always held the mantle and title of the Fifth Beatle. And the creators of this biographic tale feel the same way, in essence, that nobody could claim that title but Brian.