Wednesday, May 30, 2007

THE BEATLES & THE NFL


First it was twenty years ago today, then twenty-five, thirty and now it is forty years ago today, when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. It seems like only yesterday…

I remember visits to my Grandparents’ home, gracefully meandering my way past the hosts after a warm greeting and down into the basement which was my uncle’s domicile. There I found a cool stereo and stacks of albums. That is where at the age of eight I discovered The Beatles. Since then it has been an impenetrable love affair.

Atop the stack was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sgt. Pepper was more than an album. It was a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon. As a kid I recall it being noticeably different than most other album jackets through its colorful presentation, the lyrics printed on the back and the drastic change in appearance of the boys. Later I would learn of the album’s impact on the music industry.

Up to that time, artists yearned for the hit record. Airplay and sales of singles defined success for musicians and that catchy little elusive hook was the ultimate goal of every little private sit down with a guitar in bedrooms, basements, atop park benches and in classrooms and studios throughout America.

But Sgt. Pepper changed that. The focus shifted to the album and the artistic expression available via the LP (Long Playing) format. The Beatles clearly had their fair share of hits – at one time occupying the top 5 spots on Billboard and 7 of the top 10 spots. Sgt. Pepper featured zero singles. Two songs originally intended for Sgt. Pepper were offered up as a double A-side single featuring Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

Imagine those songs on Pepper!

Music became an outlet for creative expression which then extended to other art forms. With Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles helped to unleash boundaries, encourage free thinking and inspire the proverbial crayon to color outside the lines.

In today’s NFL, one can find parallels between Sgt. Pepper and the New England Patriots. Like the guitar player seeking the hit single back in the 50’s and 60’s, teams once hoped to reel in the star players. Today the salary cap won’t allow stockpiling of such players and the emphasis is more on roster depth and maximizing available cap dollars.

The Patriots have proven their ability to color outside the lines and in many ways they are to the modern day NFL what The Beatles were to the 60’s. They are innovators and they’ve influenced others as evidenced by the imitation of the Patriots in front offices throughout the league. The Ravens by their own admission are one of those front offices.

Time will tell if the Patriots influence will last as long as that of The Beatles. Forty years ago, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers were the standard to which all others were compared. Today, Lombardi’s principles and inspiring teachings remain relevant. Will Bill Belichick’s be as relevant forty years from now?

Perhaps some of us will find out.

Until then, we’ll take it one day at a time here on a blog that I call A Day in The Life where hopefully we and the Ravens will all get by with a little help from our friends.

Oh, and can you please hand me that purple crayon?

4 comments :

Goo Goo Goo-Joob said...

TL,

You don't need an excuse to write about The Beatles but nice try.

I am the eggman!

Mr. J said...

An interesting comparison of Pepper to the Patriots. Let’s not, however, let the pigskin overtake music’s most incredible time for music creation. While Pepper was considered a breakthrough album in many aspects, it was of course Brian Wilson’s 1966 release of Pet Sounds that was the driving force for Paul McCartney to create the concept of Pepper. But Wilson’s encouragement for Pet Sounds’ creation really came from the Beatles LP Rubber Soul, released in December 1965.. According to Wikipedia, here is what modern music’s Beethoven said when he first heard Rubber Soul: “ I really wasn't quite ready for the unity. It felt like it all belonged together. Rubber Soul was a collection of songs ... that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, "That's it. I really am challenged to do a great album." ” Pet Sounds was created after Wilson had quit touring and focused on writing and recording in the studio in January, 1966. Considered a breakthrough LP with its sound effects, unique instrumentation and of course incredible harmonies, Wilson collaborated with composer Tony Asher and also Terry Sachen. The final product however is all Wilson as writer, performer and producer. Interestingly, similar to the decision to leave “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” off of Pepper, Wilson left “Good Vibrations” off of Pet Sounds. Here is McCartney’s take on Pet Sounds: “ It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life ... I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... it may be going overboard to say it's the classic of the century ... but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways ... I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John [Lennon] so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence ... it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines ... and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. "God Only Knows" is a big favourite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe in Me", I love that melody - that kills me ... that's my favourite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-coloured harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.“ Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds." After Sgt. Pepper was released, Wilson was so despondent that he went to bed for months.

Recommend to everyone to listen to the Big Three in order (Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, and then Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) to get a better feel for our generation’s most cultivating musical time period—1965-67.

Nice change of pace, Tony. Can’t think of a better way to start the summer.

Tony Lombardi said...

Mr. J,

Thanks for the education. I know that Pet Sounds was a heavy influencer of Pepper but it's nice to see the chronology which in a way is like a genealogy of music. It was nice to see the commentary from Paul, Brian and George. You know there was some talk of McCartney and Wilson collaborating but so far it hasn't happened.

Harryos29 said...

Tony
the PEPPER discussion brought back so so many great thoughts... I still remember seeing TAPE of the Fab 4 arriving in New york and getting off the big plane... too bad there are only two of them still with us... but there music is timeless... I never got to see them on Concert...but my brother did..he said it was a concert he will always cherish.
Harry O'