So now that Sgt. Pepper had been out for a month, with people listening to it obsessively over and over and scrutinizing every nuance, were they starting to get tired of it? To some extent I’m sure they were, though the life cycle of an album was different then; none of its songs was ever released as a single (compared to 7 singles from Thriller, released 15 years later). So any overexposure came from the culture at large, not from music industry hype.

One person who was never a big fan of Sgt. Pepper: musician/author/punk rock OG Richard Hell (then Richard Myers). In between Beatles binges I’ve been making my way through his memoir I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, and this is his memory of the summer of 67:

At the beginning of June, two months after the [Central Park] Be-In, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. I had to pretend to like it because it was played for me by this girl I’d met in the office where a temp agency had sent me that week. She had pot too. I wanted to fuck her so much. My facial expressions, speech, and gestures were the unprepossessing facade on a huge warehouse of hope to fuck….

She lived in a renovated apartment on Second Avenue near Fifth Street, a single room filled with candles and batik pillows. I was depending on the implications of her willingness to smoke grass alone with me. The Beatles record had come out the day before. She played it on a portable stereo. I grew up on the Beatles. They were exciting when I was in the eighth grade. It was dewy, highly delineated, cute rock and roll. The new record was embarrassing. The band was presenting itself in a winking music-hall getup, with a lot of dramatic orchestration, to explain social problems to us. The public-event nature of the album’s release, following from the Beatles’ incredible popularity, was like the Academy Awards on TV, glitzy but dull, and left me feeling not so much let down as left out, elsewhere, and a little tacky by association.

I acted impressed for Nan’s sake, as you would for a stranger telling you a personal anecdote, especially if she was wearing a very short skirt. I’m not saying I wasn’t boring too. I was. Did that mean I’d have to do without sexual intercourse? No!

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