Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Originally released in the UK, June 1, 1967
SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
JOHN 1980: "'Sgt. Pepper' is Paul after a trip to America and the whole West Coast long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer the Beatles or the Crickets-- they were suddenly Fred And His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for the Beatles."
PAUL 1984: "It was an idea I had, I think, when I was flying from L.A. to somewhere. I thought it would be nice to lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a fake group. We would make up all the culture around it and collect all our heroes in one place. So I thought, A typical stupid-sounding name for a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and Traveling Circus kind of thing would be 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Just a word game, really."
PAUL circa-1994: "We were fed up with being Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn't want anymore, plus, we'd now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers... then suddenly on the plane I got this idea. I thought, 'Let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos so we're not having to project an image which we know. It would be much more free.'"
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
JOHN 1970: "Paul had the line about 'a little help from my friends.' He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine' is mine."
PAUL circa-1994: "This was written out at John's house in Weybridge for Ringo... I think that was probably the best of our songs that we wrote for Ringo actually. I remember giggling with John as we wrote the lines, 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine.' It could have been him playing with his willie under the covers, or it could have been taken on a deeper level. This is what it meant but it was a nice way to say it-- a very non-specific way to say it. I always liked that."
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
JOHN 1980: "My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,' Simple. The images were from 'Alice in Wonderland.' It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be 'Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.' It was purely unconscious that it came out to be LSD. Until somebody pointed it out, I never even thought it, I mean, who would ever bother to look at initials of a title? It's NOT an acid song. The imagery was Alice in the boat and also the image of this female who would come and save me-- this secret love that was going to come one day. So it turned out to be Yoko... and I hadn't met Yoko then. But she was my imaginary girl that we all have."
PAUL circa-1994: "I went up to John's house in Weybridge. When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, 'Look at this great drawing Julian's done. Look at the title!' So I said, 'What's that mean?' thinking Wow, fantastic title! John said, 'It's Lucy, a freind of his from school. And she's in the sky.' ...so we went upstairs and started writing it. People later thought 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was LSD. I swear-- we didn't notice that when it first came out."
JOHN 1980: "It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster."
PAUL 1984: "Wrote that at my house in St. John's Wood. All I remember is that I said, 'It's getting better all the time,' and John contributed the legendary line 'It couldn't get much worse.' Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit of that song, which was all super-optimistic... then there's that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John."
FIXING A HOLE
PAUL 1967: "It's really about
the fans who hang around outside your door day and
night. 'See the people standing there/ They worry me, and never win/ And wonder why they don't get in my
door.' If they only knew the best way to get in is
not to do that, because obviously anyone who is going to be straight and be like a real friend is going to
get in... but they simply stand there and give off
the impression, 'Dont let us in.' I actually do enjoy having them in. I used to do it more, but I don't as
much now because I invited one in once and the next
day she was in The Daily Mirror with her mother
saying we were going to get married."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul... again writing a good lyric."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, I wrote that. I liked that one. Strange story, though. The night we went to record that, a guy turned up at my house who announced himself as Jesus. So I took him to the session. You know-- couldn't harm, I thought. Introduced Jesus to the guys. Quite reasonable about it. But that was it. Last we ever saw of Jesus."
SHE'S LEAVING HOME
JOHN 1972: "Both of us. Paul had the basic theme. But all those lines like 'We sacrificed most of our lives / We gave her everything money could buy / Never a thought for ourselves...' those were the things (Aunt) Mimi used to say. It was easy to write."
PAUL 1984: "I wrote that. My kind of ballad from that period. One of my daughters likes that. Still works. The other thing I remember is that George Martin was offended that I used another arranger. He was busy and I was itching to get on with it; I was inspired. I think George had a lot of difficulty forgiving me for that. It hurt him; I didn't mean to."
PAUL circa-1994: "John and I wrote 'She's Leaving Home' together. It was my inspiration.
We'd seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who'd left home
and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was
enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics -- she
slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up --It was
rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he
added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the
structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before
that period in our songwriting we would have changed chords but it
stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It's a really nice little
trick and I think it worked very well. While I was showing that to John,
he was doing the Greek Chorus, the parents' view: 'We gave her most of our lives, we gave her
everything money could buy.' I think that may have been in the runaway
story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there's the
famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since
said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car
showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in 'Yellow Submarine.' They weren't real people."
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE
JOHN 1968: "'Mr. Kite' was a straight lift. I had all the words staring me in the face one day when I was looking for a song. It was from this old poster I'd bought at an antique shop. We'd been down to Surrey or somewhere filming a piece. There was a break, and I went into this shop and bought an old poster advertising a variety show which starred Mr. Kite. It said the Henderson's would also be there, late of Pablo Fanques Fair. There would be hoops and horses and someone going through a hogs head of real fire. Then there was Henry the Horse. The band would start at ten to six. All at Bishopsgate. Look, there's the bill-- with Mr. Kite topping it. I hardly made up a word, just connecting the lists together. Word for word, really."
JOHN 1972: "The story that Henry the Horse meant 'heroin' was rubbish."
JOHN 1980: "It's all just from that poster. The song is pure, like a painting. A pure watercolor."
WITHIN YOU WITHOUT YOU
GEORGE 1967: "I'm writing more songs now that we're not touring. The words are always a bit of a hangup for me. I'm not very poetic. 'Within You Without You' was written after dinner one night at Klaus Voorman's house. He had a harmonium, which I hadn't played before. I was doodling on it when the tune started to come. The first sentence came out of what we'd been doing that evening... 'We were talking.' That's as far as I got that night. I finished the rest of the words later at home."
JOHN 1967: "George has done a great indian one. We came along one night and he had about 400 indian fellas playing, and it was a great swinging event, as they say."
JOHN 1980: "One of George's best songs. One of my favorites of his, too. He's clear on that song. His mind and his music are clear. There is his innate talent. He brought that sound together."
WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR
JOHN 1967: "'When I'm Sixty Four' was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck in a few more words, like 'grandchildren on your knee,' and 'Vera Chuck and Dave.' It was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got, really-- half a song. And this was just one of those that was quite a hit with us. We used to do it when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano."
JOHN 1972: "I think I helped Paul with some of the words."
JOHN 1980: "Paul's, completely. I would never dream of writing a song like that. There's some things I never think about, and that's one of them.
PAUL 1984: "I wrote the tune when I was about 15, I think, on the piano at home, before I moved from Liverpool. It was kind of a cabaret tune. Then, years later, I put words to it."
PAUL circa-1994: "I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudvillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul writing a pop song. He makes 'em up like a novelist. You hear lots of McCartney-influenced songs on the radio now. These stories about boring people doing boring things-- being postmen and secretaries and writing home. I'm not interested in writing third-party songs. I like to write about me, 'cuz I know me."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, that was mine. It was based on the American meter maid. And I got the idea to just... you know, so many of my things, like 'When I'm Sixty-Four' and those, they're tongue in cheek! But they get taken for real! And similarly with 'Lovely Rita' --the idea of a parking-meter attendant's being sexy was tongue in cheek at the time."
GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING
JOHN 1967: "I often sit at
the piano, working at songs with the television on
low in the background. If I'm a bit low and not
getting much done, the words from the telly come
through. That's when I heard the words, 'Good Morning Good Morning.'"
JOHN 1968: "We write about our past. 'Good Morning, Good Morning,' I was never proud of it. I just knocked it off to do a song. But it was writing about my past so it does get the kids because it was me at school, my whole bit."
JOHN 1972: "A bit of gobbledygook, but nice words."
PAUL 1984: "'Good Morning' --John's. That was our first major use of sound effects, I think. We had horses and chickens and dogs and all sorts running through it."
A DAY IN THE LIFE
JOHN 1967: "I was writing the song with the 'Daily Mail' propped up in front of me on the piano. I had it open to the 'News In Brief' or whatever they call it. There was a paragraph about four thousand holes being discovered in Blackburn Lancashire. And when we came to record the song there was still one word missing from that verse... I knew the line had to go, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to --something-- the Albert Hall.' For some reason I couldn't think of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall? It was Terry Doran who said 'fill' the Albert Hall. And that was it. Then we thought we wanted a growing noise to lead back into the first bit. We wanted to think of a good end and we had to decide what sort of backing and instruments would sound good. Like all our songs, they never become an entity until the very end. They are developed all the time as we go along."
JOHN 1968: "'A Day in the Life' --that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the 'I read the news today' bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said 'yeah' --bang bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which we don't often do, the afternoon before. So we all knew what we were playing, we all got into it. It was a real groove, the whole scene on that one. Paul sang half of it and I sang half. I needed a middle-eight for it, but Paul already had one there."
JOHN 1980: "Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song 'I'd love to turn you on.' I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work."
PAUL 1984: "That was mainly John's, I think. I remember being very conscious of the words 'I'd love to turn you on' and thinking, Well, that's about as risque as we dare get at this point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall' or something. But I mean that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughty in any of that. 'I'd love to turn you on' was the rudest line in the whole thing. But that was one of John's very good ones. I wrote... that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based on some of the ideas I'd been getting from Stockhausen and people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on their highest note and go in their own time... which orchestras are frightened to do. That's not the tradition. But we got 'em to do it."
PAUL 1988: "Then I went around to all the trumpet players and said, 'Look all you've got to do is start at the beginning of the 24 bars and go through all the notes on your instrument from the lowest to the highest-- and the highest has to happen on that 24th bar, that's all. So you can blow 'em all in that first thing and then rest, then play the top one there if you want, or you can steady them out.' And it was interesting because I saw the orchestra's characters. The strings were like sheep-- they all looked at each other: 'Are you going up? I am!' and they'd all go up together, the leader would take them all up. The trumpeters were much wilder."
ON RECORDING (DURING THE 'SGT. PEPPER' PERIOD)
GEORGE 1967: "Now that we only
play in the studios, and not anywhere else, we have
less of a clue what we're going to do. Now when we go into the studio we have to start from scratch, just thrashing it out and doing it the hard way. If Paul has written a song, he comes into the studio with it in his head. It's very hard for him to give it to us, and for us to get it. When we suggest something, it might not be what he wants because he hasn't got it in his head like that. So it takes a long time. Nobody knows what the tunes sound like until we've recorded them and listen to them
GEORGE 1967: "When we
make a record, we may be knocked out by it when we
first do it... but then when we listen to it a few
times we begin to feel that it's not as good as we
think it is. That's the way it happens. With the
Revolver album, when we first did it, we were just
really knocked out with lots of the tracks. But then, by the time the record is issued, we're a bit fed up
with it and looking towards recording the new
JOHN 1967: "Sgt Pepper is one of the most important steps in our career. It had to be just right. We tried, and I think succeeded in achieving what we set out to do. If we hadn't, then it wouldn't be out now."
JOHN 1968: "We didn't really shove the album full of pot and drugs, but I mean, there WAS an effect. We were more consciously trying to keep it out. You wouldn't say, 'I had some acid, baby, so groovy.' But there was a feeling that something had happened between Revolver and Sgt Pepper."
JOHN 1972: "Pepper was just another psychedelic image. Beatle haircuts and boots were just as big as flowered pants in their time. I never felt that when Pepper came out, Haight-Ashbury was a direct result. It always seemed to me that they were all happening at once. Kids were already wearing army jackets on King's Road-- all we did is make them famous."
PAUL 1974: "Then the 'this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards' stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it's really nothing. Take the end of Sgt Pepper. Some fans came around to my door, giggling. They said, 'Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says, We