“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better/ A little better all the time,” sings McCartney. “Can’t get no worse,” chimes Lennon.


Thousands of apocryphal tales about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band have been told and retold in the 40 years since the record’s release, but the loveliest is a true one. Immediately following the completion of Sgt. Pepper’s in the wee hours of April 21, 1967, the Beatles decamped from Abbey Road Studios to Mama Cass’ apartment in Chelsea, where they flung open the windows and blasted an acetate of the album into the London morning at top volume. In the surrounding buildings, windows slowly rose in reply, and neighbors leaned out to listen to the Beatles’ newest songs. It’s a delightful image, a metaphor for the flood of joy and wonderment that the four Liverpudlians loosed on the world, and on England in particular—the windows, the minds, that were nudged open by the Beatles’ sonically questing, love-affirming, sad, funny, irrepressibly tuneful music.

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