Mike Myatt posted excellent thoughts on leadership a while back, riffing off the beloved standard, A Little Help From My Friends. Mike’s ideas got me reflecting a bit on the landmark anniversary of which that song is a memorable part….
Thursday, June 1, 1967: The long-anticipated release date for the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The recording sessions had lasted fully 129 days–including many nights. The most advanced technological experimentation was incorporated, along with classic symphonic accompaniment. The cover design and art was also something new–combining psychedelic themes with the avant-garde.
The Beatles understood this project would be special. It was underscored in the buzz around London in the memorable spring of 1967. On the release date, college students lined up for their own copies. Though no one could have seen it coming quite clearly in advance, Sgt. Pepper became the hymnal of what would become known as the Summer of Love.
The collection was a theme album–but what was the theme? Perhaps the theme was not so much in the interconnection of the songs, their individual and combined arrangements. Rather, it emerged in a broader context, providing a point where past, present and future history and culture were being forced to fit together in the uneven, unexpected way that can occasion genius.
Sgt. Pepper reflected its time–and redirected it.
There were, of course, dissenters. The New York Times music critic most prominent among them. Richard Goldstein declared the work “spoiled,” finding it that it “reek[ed]” of “special effects, dazzling but ultimately fraudulent”. Goldstein subsequently elaborated, concluding “Sergeant Pepper [to] be Beatles baroque—an elaboration without improvement”.
Yet, for many, many others, the album represented an inflection point. For the Beatles, there were two periods: pre-and post-Sgt. Pepper.
The Beatles’ masterpiece encompassed the entirety of their preparation, directing their extraordinary energy into a product that only they could create.
All their prior preparation was focused on this moment, brought together and then released into the world, at a moment when they were uniquely relevant. They stretched and grew–finding strength in one another, in competition with other bands–and crafted a result none could have foreseen. Their immersion in the moment was so complete that a newspaper clipping could be turned into something immediately evocative and likely lasting. As such, it became a soundtrack in millions of lives.
The oldest of the Beatles, Ringo Starr, had not yet turned 27.
What about you? Have you created your masterpiece, which only you could create?
If not, why not? If not now, when?
Are you now assisting others, encouraging them to create their own masterpieces?
As long as you’re assisting others, your own masterpiece remains in development, extending your calling into the world, into the future.
Have you found your calling? Are you advancing it?
From this moment onward: Who are you serving?
Sgt Pepper | It Was 20 Years Ago Today…