Corrupted by the Beatles

As I’ve mentioned in other writings, I spent most of my summers while growing up living with my Dad in a cabin in Montana. A couple cabins actually – one that was on the land he’d bought and one that he built. There was little in the way of electronic entertainment (I think he bought a TV when I was around 12 or so.) but we did have a record player. He had a sizable record collection; mostly classical and show tunes but some jazz and rock, probably purchased by my Mom.

One album there was the Beatle’s Sgt. Peppers. When I was really young – 6 or 7 – people would play that album and comment on how great it was. I didn’t get it; I much preferred a compilation album that had Doris Day, Roy Rogers etc. singing children’s songs. Then, when I was around 12 or so, me and some friends played the album and it was like a lightbulb went on. We fuckin’ LOVED that album and played it every night for two weeks.

So why did I dislike the album as a child, but fall in love with it as I was on the cusp of teenhood?

I’ve mentioned an idea presented in the book “This is Your Brain on Music”: people like music that is complex enough to challenge them but not so complex that it befuddles them. The average adult is bored by nursery rhymes but also put off by super complex modern atonal classical music. For most adults, rock and pop music hits that sweet spot of offering some surprises but not being indecipherable. My thinking is that maybe when I turned 12 I’d absorbed enough of the rules and concepts of music that Sgt. Pepper hit that sweet spot for me. The music hadn’t changed (of course) but I had.

But there may be another aspect. Rock music is commented on because its basic groove is somewhat akin to the rhythm of sex or masturbation. (The term “masturbatory rhythms” has been tossed around (or tossed off – HAWHAWHAWHAW get it?) by more than one cultural critic.) Maybe at the age of 12 I was just starting to feel the sexual urges being promoted by newly released hormonal surges and thus this rock album which had seemed uninteresting to my younger self suddenly took on new value. It’s possible that the Sgt. Peppers album corrupted my young soul and had I not been exposed to it I would not have become the decrepit serial child murderer that America has grown to love.

1 Response to “Corrupted by the Beatles”


  1. John Saleeby

    I first got into the Beatles at my Aunt Ann’s house in Thibadoux. I guess this was around ’64. We had a forty five of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and we’d play it over and over and over.

    Boy, nothing more exciting than a Beatles story.