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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It Was 50 Years Ago Today - Sgt. Pepper, The "Beatles Open Mic," and More!

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. They’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…”


Update (9/1): Check out the photos and video clips from our August 19 Beatles Open Mic event!

Olney Beatles Open Mic event
Pictures and video from the Beatles Open Mic event
 Whether you’re a diehard fan who caught the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 or just enjoy their songs, please join Olney Library for a special event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We are holding a “Beatles Open Mic” on Saturday, August 19, starting at 3 PM. Register today! Come with your voice and enthusiasm-- sing solo, duos, or in family or friend groups! (Instruments optional.) We’ll start with a Beatles trivia quiz to test your knowledge; prizes to be awarded. If you prefer not to sing, feel free to stop by for an afternoon of songs, fun and memories. Hope to see you there!

So what was going on in the world when Sgt. Pepper’s was released, and why was it considered a masterpiece?

Book cover for The Sixties: The Decade that Changed the World
It was 1967, the height of the heady and tumultuous ‘60s. The U.S. was more than a decade into the Vietnam War. Many at home protested the war and racial discrimination. At the same time, important milestones were being reached. The landmark Loving v. Virginia decision found bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional. Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Twenty year old Kathy Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon.

In the midst of this upheaval (and likely because of it), artistic
countercultures flourished and sparked new revolutions in art, music and literature. (Books published that year included One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Márquez; The Outsiders by Hinton; and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg.) 1967 was also the infamous “Summer of Love,” where tens of thousands of young people descended on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The nearby Monterey Pop Festival saw singular performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. ‘Hippies’ sought refuge and escapism in love, art, and drugs.

With this backdrop the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, considered the greatest rock and roll album of all time by Rolling Stone. From 1964 on, the Beatles had dominated US and global music charts, but in 3 short years there were already signs that fame and fortune had taken a toll on its members. The Beatles decided to give up touring and pursue individual projects, seeking new direction and musical expression.

Sgt. Pepper’s was the brainchild of Paul McCartney. Advances in
technology allowed the Beatles to experiment with creative recording techniques not possible before that time. The album is also credited as being one of the first ‘concept’ albums, revolving around an alter-ego Edwardian brass band and use of orchestras, Indian instruments, and unusual sound effects. But perhaps what made the album so revolutionary was the songwriting, at once a throwback to earlier times while also drawing on and transcending the psychedelic mood of that turbulent era. Later rock albums would be held up against the standard set by the Beatles on this extraordinary recording. Sgt. Pepper’s cemented the Beatles’ legendary status as the preeminent rock band of its time, perhaps of all time.

Check out videos of Olney staff preparing for the "Beatles Open Mic!"

OL Beatles Open Mic - OL's Fab Four! She Loves You

OL Beatles Open Mic rehearsal1 - When I'm 64

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