“Dolby’s Rupees: The Beatles – ‘Within You Without You'”

Is it important who all the celebrity faces are on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Sure, why not. If that gives you happiness. I’m sure The Beatles would even throw an extra one on there, maybe Carrot Top, if you begged ‘em hard enough.
“Within You Without You” is a song about classification, and it’s a song about the way the human mind works. Sgt. Pepper’s, while often lauded as the band’s best album (I’d give the slight nod to Abbey Road), is also arguably its most eclectic (Abbey Road is definitely not its most eclectic). Particularly astonishing, in context, are the exact middle three tracks on the album: six through eight, out of 13 total, on which danger surfaces twice as a theme, and then, on “Within You Without You,” all-out hopelessness, and a peering up into eternal life, or the next life, in a search for hope. This mid section is also where we deviate from the bouncy pop of the rest of the album, and the rewards are something against which no other band has ever truly stacked up, not even the Grateful Dead.
I do these “rupees” segments once in a while when I want to talk about something old, so it can’t be in the context of a “review,” and also when I don’t really have a clear thesis statement on it, other than just how much I love it. Actually, coincidentally, “rupees” is the name for the Indian currency, and “Within You Without You” utilizes the Indian instrument the sitar, courtesy of George Harrison (influenced thereto in turn by one Ravi Shankar). I guess you could call this then like the “ultimate” “Dolby’s Rupees.” Aww… By the way, my next one’s gonna be about Paul Wall.
Anyway, you know what guys? Now I’ve seen it all. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Donald Trump is president, New Belgium actually crafted a drinkable libation (Citradelic), and this dude I worked actually said he didn’t like the Beatles, and said they were like a “boy band.” He compared them to ’N Sync and Backstreet Boys. I was like well yeah, I don’t like the freakin’ Backstreet Boys and sh**. The funny thing is, I have a lot of respect for this guy in a lot of ways: he’d always play Disturbed and Volbeat on his Smart Phone in work, and when I asked him where he was from he wouldn’t tell me exactly, he just goes “I’M FROM WAY UP IN MICHIGAN!”, and his eyes got real big and angry. I was like ok, dude. Apparently you’re from way up in Michigan. Maybe he’d read the Hemingway short story “Up in Michigan” and got offended?
But anyway, I don’t get the sense that his pigeonholing of the Beatles based on the matching haircuts and outfits of their early days is microcosmic of the general consensus, but it does nonetheless demarcate the dangerous epidemic of judging musicians by their aesthetics, and not by their output.
Kurt Cobain said lyrics didn’t matter. Well, Kurt Cobain is pushing up daisies.
Perhaps ironically, though, “Within You Without You” is more similar in theme, lyrically, to “I Am the Walrus,” which from what I remember addresses “policemen in a row,” the type of individuals you’d expect to (and here I am stereotyping, when I just admonished it as an enterprise) exhibit the sort of expedited control of their comrades by way of fear, acting under the direction of a government, the type of thing which definitely the majority of 1960s music (even in Motown, a la Edwin Starr) was reacting against.
This brings me to my next topic though, and this might not sit well with everyone: but… uh… the Beatles, even up through Sgt. Pepper’s, were a bunch of da**ed little teeny boppers. At least, I think. I mean, my head goes in about 60 different directions sometimes. But who are they to say that that girl should leave home in “She’s Leaving Home”? Isn’t she just gonna end up knocked up, diseased and hooked on heroin? And who are they to say we shouldn’t “Hide (ourselves) behind a wall”? That’s asking a lot, especially these days. And what’s up with that dramatic “Are you one of them?” part where it’s like they’re rubbing it in our face that they’re more open and confident than we are… well they’re pretty good musicians, and I heard that Lennon never met his mom or dad, so he overcame a lot, and Paul McCartney wrote the Badfinger song “Come and Get it,” and possibly their masterpiece “We’re for the Dark” (http://dolbydisaster.com/?p=21089)… and “Within You Without You” is actually not even hippy, idealistic John’s song but rather GEORGE’s… ah, my head is spinning! Ah, time for a stupid song like “When I’m Sixty Four.” But this isn’t a post about Sgt. Pepper’s as a whole. So I guess I’m signing off now, perhaps implicitly positing a new nomination for greatest song of all time, while I’m at it, not least for its ability to pi** me the fu** off.

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