Today is very high on my list of possible time machine destinations. I’d love to see the look on Paul and George’s faces when Jimi Hendrix opens his show tonight — three days after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — with a cover of the title track. This is not that performance, of which no film appears to exist, but it probably gives a little of the flavor:

It takes some serious cojones to cover a brand-new Beatles song with two of them in the audience, but Jimi never had a problem in that department.

This day would also be a good vantage point to observe the astonishing speed with which Sgt. Pepper was propagating itself throughout the culture. In In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs, which I’ve been reading this week, Nicholas Dawidoff says:

In June and July of 1967, the American response was such that just about anywhere a person went, there was Sgt. Pepper – pouring out of cars, apartment windows, stores, and building lobbies – the entire album, all day long.

It must be amazing to see something you’ve created take on such a life of its own. At the same time I wonder if, having lived so long with these songs, The Beatles weren’t a little sick of them. All I’ve been doing is blogging about them, and I’ve about had it; I don’t need to hear “Good Morning Good Morning” or “Lucy in the Sky” or especially “When I’m 64” again anytime soon. On with whatever’s next.

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