Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sgt. Pepper's 40th Anniversary

An interesting mix of Beatle history, trivia, links, a quiz and the even some Bible connections . . .

Sgt. Pepper's 40th

By David Buckna
Special to ASSIST News Service

CANADA (ANS) -- June 1st, 2007 marked the 40th anniversary of the UK release of The Beatles' iconic album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band--ranked number 1 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003).


1. On the opening track, which Beatle is introduced as Billy Shears?

2. A four-year-old classmate of Julian Lennon served as inspiration for the album's third song. Name her.

3. What song mentions John Lennon's aggressive tendencies?

4. What song contains the lyric: "And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right"?

5. In this song the parents say about their runaway daughter: "We gave her everything money could buy". Name the song.

6. What song written by George Harrison includes a reference to a warning given by Jesus?

Ringo, John, Paul, George

7. What song did Paul McCartney write in tribute to his father?

8. Who was glimpsed "filling in a ticket in her little white book"?

9. John Lennon sings: "I've got nothing to say but it's O.K." What song?

10. What's the first line of "A Day in the Life"?


1. Ringo Starr, just before he starts singing "With A Little Help From My Friends".

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." (Proverbs 17:17)

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

2. Lucy O'Donnell.

Julian Lennon's drawing of classmate
"Lucy -- in the sky with diamonds" (1967)

Steve Turner observes in "A Hard Day's Write:The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song" [New & Updated Edition]: "One afternoon early in 1967, Julian Lennon came home from his nursery school with a coloured drawing that he said was of his classmate, four-year-old Lucy O'Donnell. Explaining his artwork to his father, Julian said it was Lucy--'in the sky with diamonds'. This phrase struck John and triggered off the associations that led to the writing of the dream-like 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', one of three tracks on the Sgt Pepper album that were supposed to be 'about drugs'. Although it's unlikely that John would have written such a piece of reverie without ever having experimented with hallucinogenics, this song was equally affected by his love of surrealism, word play and the works of Lewis Carroll.... John claimed that the hallucinatory images in the song were inspired by the 'Wool And Water' chapter in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass, where Alice is taken down a river in a rowing boat by the Queen, who has suddenly changed into a sheep."

Steve Turner writes in "The Gospel According to The Beatles": "Paul said at the time: 'This Lucy was God, the big figure, the white rabbit.'"

3. "Getting Better".

The optimism of Paul's chorus, where everything is improving because of love, is counterbalanced by John's confession: "Me used to be angry young man/Me hiding me head in the sand/You gave me the word/I finally heard/I'm doing the best that I can/...I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her/And kept her apart from the things that she loved/Man, I was mean but I'm changing my scene/And I'm doing the best that I can."

Proverbs 29:22: "An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins."

Years later John admitted: "I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence."

The apostle Paul reflects: "I die every day (to self)..." (1 Corinthians 15:31).

4. "Fixing a Hole".

On the surface, the lyric ["And it re ally doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right"] appears to be the words of someone who won't accept advice (eg. Proverbs 12:15). However, the meaning expands when "where I belong" is included. Paul comments in "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now": "It's pretty much my song, as I recall. I like the double meaning of 'If I'm wrong I'm right where I belong'."

Steve Turner observes in "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song [New & Updated Edition, 2005]: "People assumed that Paul was talking about 'fixing' with heroin. But the song really was about renovating his life, allowing himself the freedom to close up the cracks and holes that allowed the enemies of his imagination to leak in. 'It's the hole in your make up which lets the rain in and stops your mind from going where it will,' as he puts it."

Although the song includes: "Silly people run around they worry me/And never ask me why they don't get past my door", one person who did get past Paul's door was "Jesus".

Paul recounts in "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now": "The funny thing about that was the night when we were going to record it, at Regent Sound Studios at Tottenham Court Road. I brought a guy who was Jesus. A guy arrived at my front gate and I said 'Yes? Hello' because I always used to answer it to everyone. If they were boring I would say, 'Sorry, no,' and they generally went away. This guy said, 'I'm Jesus Christ.' I said, 'Oop,' slightly shocked. I said,'Well, you'd better come in then.' I thought, Well, it probably isn't. But if he is, I'm not going to be the one to turn him away. So I gave him a cup of tea and we just chatted and I asked, 'Why do you think you are Jesus?' There were a lot of casualties about then. We used to get a lot of people who were maybe insecure or going through emotional breakdowns or whatever. So I said, 'I've got to go to a session but if you promise to be very quiet and just sit in a corner, you can come.'

So he did, he came to the session and he did sit very quietly and I never saw him after that. I introduced him to the guys. They said, 'Who's this?' I said, 'He's Jesus Christ.' We had a bit of a giggle over that."

5. "She's Leaving Home".

Later, the parents realize: "Fun is the one thing that money can't buy."

"...a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15b)

From "The Gospel According to The Beatles" : "...'She's Leaving Home', although not about drugs, was based on a true story about a runaway [17-year-old Melanie Coe] whose perplexed father had been quoted in a newspaper [Daily Mail, Feb. 27, 1967] saying that he'd given her all she'd ever wanted. She seemed to have followed [Timothy] Leary's advice to 'drop out,' realizing that there was more to life than the material."

It's interesting to note that the Beatles had met Melanie back in 1963! From "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song [New & Updated Edition, 2005]: "On Friday, October 4, 1963, Melanie won a Ready Steady Go! mime competition. By coincidence, it happened to be the first time the Beatles were on the show and she was presented with her award by Paul McCartney. Each of the Beatles then gave her a signed message."

6. "Within You Without You".

"We were talking about the love that's gone so cold/And the people who gain the world and lose their soul/They don't know--they can't see--are you one of them?"

From "A Hard Day's Write:The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song [New & Updated Edition, 2005]: "Although the view expressed in 'Within You Without You' was drawn from Hindu teaching [the illusion of ego], it touched a chord among those experimenting with acid at the time....The line about gaining the world but losing your soul is taken from a warning given by Jesus and recorded in two of the gospels (Matthew 16, v 26, Mark 8, v 36)."

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:35-37)

7. "When I'm 64".

At age 15, Paul plinked out a melody on the family piano that would become one of the Beatles' most memorable songs.

From "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song" [New & Updated Edition, 2005] : "By 1960, Paul was playing a version of it at gigs when the amplification broke down. At the time, he thought of it as 'a cabaret tune', written out of respect for the music of the Twenties and Thirties, which his father [Jim] had played as a young man."

The lyrics came later, written in tribute to his father. "When I'm 64" was recorded in 1966 (the year Jim turned 64). On June 18th, 2006 Paul celebrated his own 64th birthday.

"Honour your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12)

"A wise son brings joy to his father... "(Proverbs 10:1)

8. "Lovely Rita".

The apostle John mentions a little book: "I t ook the little book from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour." (Revelation 10:10)

9. "Good Morning, Good Morning".

God had something to say when He created the heavens and the earth: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day." (Genesis 1:3-5)

Cornelius Rooster

From "A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song" [New & Updated Edition]: "It was a television commercial for Kellogg's Corn Flakes that gave John the title and chorus of 'Good Morning, Good Morning'. The black and white commercial featured nothing more than corn flakes being tipped into a bowl. The four-line jingle went: 'Good morning, good morning, The best to you each morning, Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Crisp and full of fun'."

The rooster on the box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes is Cornelius--"the symbol of waking up and getting the morning off to a good start". In the book of Acts, Cornelius was the Roman centurion who sent for Peter after having a vision. When Peter explained about faith in Jesus, Cornelius believed and was baptized, along with his household and close friends. (Acts 10)

10. "I read the news today oh boy". The song continues: "About a lucky man who made the grade/And though the news was rather sad/Well I just had to laugh/I saw the photograph"

The oppos ite of sad news is happy or good news--mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments:

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." (Proverbs 25:25)

"After John [the Baptist] was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" (Mark 1:14-15)

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as "gospel" means "good news".

Sgt. Pepper Trivia

  • The album title...Paul recounts in "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now": "Me and Mal [Evans] often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, 'Think of names.' We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked 'S' and 'P'. Mal said, 'What's that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.' We had a joke about that. So I said, Sergeant Pepper,' just to vary it, Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,' an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words. Then, 'Lonely Hearts Club', that's a good one. There's lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show.... That'd be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band?"
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band debuted in North America at Expo 67 in Montreal on June 1st, 1967 (the same day as its UK release) after an Air Canada employee brought a copy of the LP from London to Montreal and gave it to Youth Pavilion host Gilles Gougeon.

    Gougeon: "That summer--'67--we heard that the Beatles were going to publish their new album called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And then a friend of mine told me, 'Well, I got a friend who works for Air Canada, and he flies to London tomorrow.' So we asked this guy to buy a disc for us, and he flew back two days after. We ran to the airport, took the LP, and we just said, 'Do you want to hear it? And we were the first in North America to get our hands on this new release. I started to play it on the loudspeaker outside in the agora at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It was silence. You could smell the silence because people were smoking marijuana and everything. And the people were listening to that as if it was a religion--a mass. They were listening--they were trying to understand magic moments in those songs. I stopped playing it at 2 o'clock in the night, so I played it 12 hours. Personally, I didn't smoke anything so I was quite straight listening to it, and I was tired after 12 hours listening to it, but I was the fir st one! [laughter]" (on C'est La Vie, CBC Radio One, April 29, 2007) (
  • The closing piano chord on "A Day in the Life" was played by John, Paul, Ringo, group assistant Mal Evans and producer George Martin, on three pianos and harmonium, overdubbed four times and lasting 42 seconds.
  • Number of hours taken to record the album: 700 (The first Beatles album, Please Please Me, took less than 10.)
  • Released: June 1, 1967 (UK) and June 2, 1967 (North America)


Album and Recording Information

A Day in the Life -- Sgt Pepper at 40

Bands mark Sgt. Pepper anniversary

Experts discuss hit Beatles album

All You Need Is Love

Pepper at Leeds -- a splendid time is guaranteed for all

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Band

Sgt. Pepper Turns 40

An A-to-Z guide explains what 'Sgt. Pepper's' was all about


"A Hard Day's Write:The Stories Behind Every Beatle Song" [New & Updated
Edition] by Steve Turner (Carlton Books Limited, 2005)

"Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now" by Barry Miles (Secker & Warburg,
Random House, 1997)

"The Gospel According to The Beatles" by Steve Turner (Westminster John
Knox Press, 2006).

Copyright 2007 by David Buckna. THE POP GOSPEL. All rights reserved. Used
by permission. Buckna reads email at

Freelancer David Buckna produces -- THE POP GOSPEL -- a column that communicates Judeo-Christian truth to the postmodern culture using a Q & A format. Since December 2002, THE POP GOSPEL has been an occasional feature in the Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). Questions are gleaned from movies, television, music, literature, current events and other aspects of pop culture: Star Trek, Rock Music, Harry Potter, Calvin & Hobbes, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Matrix, Art Masterpieces, Classic TV, Christmas, The 10 Deadly Sins, Dr. Seuss, Survivor, The Wizard of Oz, Johnny Cash, The Passion of the Christ, The Simpsons, and many others. Buckna's previous quizzes for ANS can be found at the ANS Search Archive page, searching for buckna.

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