Every time I try to write something that ISN’T looking back in time, someone or something comes along and reminds me of a significant anniversary that definitely requires some comment from me.
Previous such pieces have included my 30th Wedding Anniversary (in 2010); the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13 (also 2010); the 40 year mark since the first moon landing (in 2009) and the 497th (?) anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (in 2012).
As a child who grew up in the 1960s – known as a decade of momentous changes and events – I am fully expecting that a LOT of 50 year old happenings are going to require my personal “I was there” recollections in the coming months and years. Indeed there are already 2 more “historicals” in progress.
I have, in fact, already failed to comment on (to name but a few) the half century celebrations of:
- Yuri Gagarin’s “first man in space” trip in the Soviet spacecraft Vostock 1 (1961).
- John Glenn’s “first American orbital spaceflight” in the Project Mercury capsule “Friendship 7” (1962 – on my 9th birthday, actually).
- My favourite TV Sci-fi series “Doctor Who” (1963 – although as it concerns time travel it could be older).
- The England football team actually winning a World Cup competition (1966 – so we are now up to “51 years of hurt”!)
And now another significant one has just gone by – this time from the area that has had the most influence on me during those years – music!
But if you’ve read the “CD of My Life” series here, you already know that. If you haven’t, you should be able to pull the whole series up in one go by clicking on the appropriate “Category” in the side menu.
Yes, we have indeed passed the 50th birthday of THE iconic album of the 1960s (some would insist on saying ONE of the iconic albums of that decade but let’s not be pedantic)!
I speak, of course, of the short-lived (only 8 years) phenomenon that was The Beatles and their ground-breaking 1967 album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”!
From its distinctive cover, via the innovative cut-outs on the inset card to the array of musical styles from “pop” to “eastern hippy” to “downright quirky” – there had been nothing remotely like it before and I remember the unfolding sense of wonder I experienced when one of the Pirate Radio stations played it in its entirety.
Mind you, that sense of wonder at new sounds came to me quite a lot in those days – I recall it happening the very first time I heard “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.
And mentioning them reminds me of the transatlantic creative feedback that was, at least partially, responsible for “Sgt. Pepper…” – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was apparently so impressed with the earlier Beatles effort “Rubber Soul” that it inspired him to produce “Pet Sounds” which, in turn so impressed Lennon, McCartney and Co. that they wrote “Sgt. Pepper… ” to try to surpass it!
Who knows, if Brian hadn’t then lost the plot a bit they might still be at it, trying eternally to outdo each other!
At around the same time (actually July 1967) and premiered on the first global TV communications satellite link-up, The Beatles also ushered in what became known as “the summer of love” with another mind-blower – “All You Need is Love”. So that’s another anniversary covered!
Incidentally, before we leave Beatlemania behind us, can I just point out that if you happen to think that “Sgt. Pepper…” was NOT the best thing that band ever did – you will get no argument from me! In my humble opinion many tracks on the previous “Revolver” album were much better but for a total musical experience they actually hit the jackpot on 26th September 1969 (commemorating the end of my first week at work) with the release of “Abbey Road”. I return to that one far more often than any other of their works.
I’m not at all sure that I’m totally happy with this “time passing” stuff! It was first really bought home to me by a trip that Faith and I made last summer to The Shuttleworth Collection (a museum for still functional old aeroplanes) near Bedford. I had first visited it on a school trip and was, frankly, appalled to realise that a Sopwith Pup biplane of 1916 vintage was now TWICE as old as when I first saw it in 1966.
This means that 1966 is now further away from me than some bits of the First World War were in 1966 – and WWI was incredibly ancient history then while 1966 is just YESTERDAY now!
The problem, of course, is that external time moves on while my internal time stopped advancing when I was about 26 – and I suppose there’s nothing I can do about either of them!