Sunday, April 6, 2008
I had talked about this in one of the discussion groups, but I don’t think I ever mentioned it here. A frequent contributor to the “Nothing Is Real” discussion group known as Jarvtronics made the astute observation that if you look at the lyrics on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” you will find an inordinate amount of references to the everyday passage of time. Once I took a look at that and compared the album to others by the Beatles and various artists, I realized that he was on to something. From the line “It was 20 years ago today” in the opening track to Mal Evans’ alarm clock in “A Day In The Life,” the album is filled with references to time. Here is a list I came up with in one quick reading through the lyrics:
It was twenty years ago today
The act you've known for all these years
Sit back and let the evening go
How do I feel by the end of the day
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A little better all the time
I finally heard
I'm taking the time for a number of things
Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins
She's leaving home after living alone for so many years
Friday morning at nine o'clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
Performs his feat on Saturday at Bishopsgate
The band begins at ten to six
Having been some days in preparation
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
And tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away
Many years from now
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Sunday mornings go for a ride
When I'm sixty-four
When it gets dark I tow your heart away
Good morning, good morning
After a while you start to smile now you feel cool
People running round it's five o'clock.
Everywhere in town is getting dark
It's time for tea and meet the wife.
Somebody needs to know the time, glad that I'm here
We're sorry but it's time to go
I read the news today oh boy
I saw a film today oh boy
And looking up I noticed I was late
Made the bus in seconds flat
Try finding a list that big on any other album in the world. Notice also that every single song on the album is represented. The weakest interpretation is “you answer quite slowly” which happens to be the only reference I found in the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” If “answering slowly” doesn’t qualify as the everyday mundane passage of time, then I would be of the opinion that “Lucy” was intentionally meant to stand out from the rest of the songs. That’s an article for another day.
Jarv suggested that the frequency of references to time might be a suggestion that the listener pay close attention to the time. I amended that slightly in my interpretation which led me to pay attention to the Pepper Clock.
The first obvious place to look for a clock on the Sgt. Pepper album is the drum.
Consider the line from Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite: "The band begins at 10 to 6." If the drum in fact were a clock, then the hands at 10 to 6 or 5:50 would be pointed at "P" and "B" respectively.
Well that in and of itself provokes all kinds of thoughts.
1) P – B = Paul Buried.
2) One hand pointing at the P for Paul and the other pointing at the grave.
3) Then there is always P>>>>>>>>>>B = Paul>>>>>>>>>>>>Bill
But, I knew there was more to the clock on Sgt. Pepper. I pulled out Paul’s book, “Many Years From Now” and opened to pages 305 to 335.
All of the italicized words below are quotes from Paul in the book, not a single word comes from Barry Miles' text. This is the REAL Sgt. Pepper clock.
I like that northern thing very much, which is what we were, where we were from. I had the idea to be in a park and in front of us to have a huge floral clock. We were sitting around talking about it, “Why do they do a clock made out of flowers?” Very conceptual, it never moves, it just grows and time is therefore nonexistent, but the clock is growing and it was like, “Wooah! The frozen floral clock.”
So the second phase of the idea was to have these guys in their new identity, in their costumes, being presented with the Freedom of the City or a cup, by the Lord Mayor in all his regalia, and I thought of it as a town up north, standing on a little rostrum with a few dignitaries and the band, above a floral clock. We always liked to take those ordinary facts of northern working-class life, like the clock, and mystify them and glamorize them and make them into something more magical, more universal....
I did a lot of drawings of us being presented to the Lord Mayor, with lots of dignitaries and lots of friends of ours around, and it was to be us in front of a big northern floral clock, and we were to look like a brass band. That developed to be the Peter Blake cover....
So I took the little drawings of the floral clock and the Lord Mayor and all our heroes, which was like the end design, and we went to see Peter....
The idea did get a bit metamorphosed when Peter was brought in; they changed it in good ways. The clock became the sign of the Beatles in front of it, the floral clock metamorphosed into a flower bed....
My conclusion: The clock is the grave.
On Wednesday morning at 5:00 he died.
By 10 to 6 (5:50), he was replaced.
I'll close this with a frame from a recent video update from Ringo Starr's Official Web Site. It's time...