June 7, 2007 § Leave a comment
The Beatles are so formidable the chances are they’ll still beat you at your own game. A case in point is Aimee Mann, a brilliant singer/songwriter. She recently wrote an essay for The New York Times celebrating the 40th birthday of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The Beatles reduced her to a little bit of babble not usual for a writer of Mann’s clarity.
Mann starts out by saying she was incredibly moved, as an 8-year-old, by the music on the album. But then she goes on to say that she’s, well, moved on. Paul’s cheerfulness is a little off-putting, she believes. She thinks the lyrics lack emotional depth. She cites Fiona Apple and Eliott Smith as two artists who are better suited to satisfy her emotional and aesthetic needs.
Hmm. Yes, the old rap on Paul is that he’s a cheerful bloke, but on this record he happened to contribute a little ditty called “She’s Leaving Home“, which is as emotionally resonant as it was 40 years ago. It also broke the boundaries as to what subjects are best suited to a pop song lessons still being learned by Apple and the tragic Smith. If this is the kind of song that only an 8-year-old is moved by well, that’s one sophisticated little kid.
I am certain that there is no linear narrative to “A Day In the Life” but why does the song move me? Why am I driven to wonder who the man is that “blew his mind out in a car” because he hadn’t noticed “the lights had changed”? And why am I still dazzled by John’s writing the sheer poetry of it words that not only create memorable sing-a-long records but also ones that stick right with you? I can sing these songs in my head even though I
have not heard the record in its entirety in years.
They must have done something right.
I get a little tired, I suppose, of reading things that are supposed to be about one thing but then are more or less just about the writer. Aimee Mann wants us to know less about the power of this record and more about how she has outgrown this bit of pop whimsy.
Well, good for her. But I’m happy to lag behind, still marveling at the beauty of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, with the millions of other idiots.