Another year of hectic times is upon us and another Black Friday looms as consumers go on a annual frenzy to find the best gifts for the best people in their life at the best prices. As always, music acts as so much more than an easy go-to gift, it’s also such a healing agent for the soul, a celebratory agent for the emotional, a fun agent for mindless loose times, and a true passionate art manifested for all, those creating it and those absorbing it. Here are some bright musical spots on the holiday radar this year, a bakers dozen to choose from.
Check out our 2018 Holiday Geek Gift Guide for Music“¦
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.
Imagine, the 1971 solo offering by John Lennon, which also sports the memorable title song, is now available in MP3 format from Amazon for only $5.00 as part of their monthly deals. If you’d like a physical copy Imagine, the CD is currently $10 and comes with a free MP3 Download of the entire album.
With this 1971 solo album, Lennon finds himself in somewhat calmer waters, coming off the heels of his anguished, painful, and utterly absorbing Plastic Ono Band album from 1970. On that album, Lennon sings with a raw edge of release so massive it sounded like blood was in his throat. Here on Imagine, it’s like the atmosphere after a heavy torrential rainstorm, a calmer breeze, which although tempered and decidedly more mainstream, still packs the Lennon punches. Along with the highly memorable title song, which has transcended the entire Lennon catalog — and certainly this album — and has gone on to become a sonic beacon of peace and hope, played as a reminder of those positive tenets in various guises of all media. Other songs like the jaunty, jangly “Cripped Inside,” the declaration of his love in perpetuity for his eternal soulmate on “Oh Yoko,” the give it to me or else admission of “Gimme Some Truth,” the quiet, yet hauntingly beautiful introspection of “Jealous Guy,” and the early rock and roll playbook stylings of “It’s So Hard,” with the late, great King Curtis on the opening saxophone, Imagine remains a paramount musical release from a man who constantly pushed new boundaries and scaled heights of his soul and inner clockwork, resulting in messages that remained universal, yet wholly personal. It was 33 years ago today that the great John Lennon was shot and killed in front of his apartment building in New York City by a deranged fan.