Sgt Pepper established The Beatles as The Buddhas of Rock Music. Intro, short comment on each song with some lyrics

I remember sitting at the top of a cheap hostel in Istanbul in late June 1967. A young American turned up and pulled out a copy of the latest album from The Beatles called Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It blew my mind.

Several of us sat in this room allowing the music to sink deep – one remarkable song after another offering commentaries on life. The album included Beatles childhood recollections, social issues, spirituality, teachings of the East. the importance of freedom and more – all collated together in a single album.

I listened to it several times.

Photo shows Album cover



I regarded, and still do, Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band as a break from everything in rock music which had preceded it. The previous songs of the Beatles served as a warmup act for a revolution in sound and lyrics.

The beat, rhythms and the harmony of the songs fuse with lyrics addressing a range of themes. Groundbreaking stuff in the music world in the 20th century – a parallel to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the 19th century. Sgt Pepper shows the audacity of The Beatles to provide 11 songs, full of originality, creative expression and fitting in with the other songs into a mosaic of liberating insights.

Sorrow followed success. Two months later in August 1967, Brian Epstein, their 32-year-old manager, died from an overdose of sleeping tablets along with alcohol consumption that evening. He was due to travel to North Wales the following day to be with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Beatles

The Beatles told Epstein in the months previous they did not want to tour anymore. They could not see the point when the fans screamed throughout the show; they  could not recreate on stage the songs they made in the studio. Without the tours and all the organisation required, Brian Epstein felt The Beatles no longer needed his services.

The Beatles relationship with each other started to show cracks in the months ahead, as well as their music business. They disbanded in 1970.

Before Sgt Pepper

The hippie era and the Beatles were an evolution of the Beat Generation, who protested the daily drag of Western society The Beatles started off as four lads from Liverpool offering a real break from the homely, sleepy songs of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and more. Influenced by Elvis Presley and Little Richard, the Beatles took five years to find the potent lyrics, the sounds and use of the studio in Abbey Road, London to bring life-changing power to their music.

From the very beginning, the Beatles acknowledged the influence of blues singers and rock’n’roll, which found its way across the Pond to the UK and the rest of the Europe. Lyrics expanded to include passion, conflict, loss and melancholy. Guitars and drums dramatized the songs or provided a melodious support.

The Buddhist tradition, soul music from the southern states of the USA, poets/authors/lecturers, such as Jack Kerouac, Herman Hess, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, Alan Ginsburg, Aldous Huxley, D.T. Suzuki, Timothy Leary and Ram Dass contributed to opening the doors of perception for spiritual seekers. Few had the influence of John, Paul. George and Ringo. The Beatles had an unsurpassable global following with the rich and shameless wanting to be photographed with them. No performing artist, poet or author carried the appeal and the authority of The Beatles. They were approachable, independent minded with a disarming humour appealing to all ages. By 1966, they were in the foreground of the exploration of consciousness.

The seekers of spirituality got by with a little help from their friends – spiritual seekers, hippies, marijuana, LSD and India. The Beatles belong to a succession of cultural gods turning their back on the orthodoxy of God and secularism to find fresh ways to be authentic. They drew upon their life experience, home truths and glimpses of the beyond – Strawberry Fields Forever.

The Beatles were aware of the number of weekend hippies, who looked like hippies, danced like hippies, dressed like hippies, smoked like hippies but went back to the desk in their suits and ties on Monday morning. Others adopted the fashionable hippy identity between the end of one term at university and the start of the next term. There were plenty of holiday hippies in Istanbul during my stay there from June to October 1967 before setting out to complete the rest of overland journey to India through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We benefitted immensely from Muslim hospitality.

A revolution of the mind found its ways into our lives including meditation, non-violence, community living and free love. The hippy generation had its mantras – love, peace and harmony, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and tune in, turn on and drop out. The inner revolution could not last in its colourful form – it was too good to be true. Some of us realised we had to find ways to go much deeper. That meant a seven-day week a dedication to being a spiritual wallah, not for the weekend and holidays. The dynamics of inner revolution, not just tinkering with stress, still goes on. Meditation and the Buddhist tradition plays a significant role in this kind of revolution.

In the late 1960s, perceptions of situations mattered as much, or even more than the perceived. The use of drugs made a major contribution to changing the perceptions of a generation, including The Beatles themselves. This recognition of the meeting of the perception and perceived occasionally offered the listener a glimpse of transcendence.

The Beatles’ album marked a leap of consciousness including rebranding themselves as Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band. They transcended themselves and expanded their perception of the real and the unreal, via music, far beyond what had occurred in rock music up until then.

The inner revolution for the Beatles took a step further when they followed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Rishikesh in northern India in February 1968 to learn to practice transcendental meditation. George Harrison and John Lennon stayed in the ashram for more than two months. They weaned themselves off LSD and marijuana. Between the four of them, they wrote around 30 new songs while staying at the ashram. Some travellers made their way to India to deal with a spiritual crisis having lost faith in a career, materialism, suburban conformity and parenting 2.2 children, retirement and death.

I arrived in India in November1967 after six months making the overland journey from London having broken out of the straitjacket of social conformity. There was no turning round for some of us.

The Outreach of Sgt. Pepper

In 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band spent 27 weeks at Number One in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at the top in the United States. Music critics and rock music fans have voted Sgt. Pepper on several occasions in the past 50 years as the best album of all time.

The Album sold 32 million copies worldwide by 2011. Around one in 12 people bought the album in Britain over the past five decades.

Through Sgt Pepper, The Beatles offered an expansive vision, originality and range of personal/social themes including references to their Liverpool upbringing. The songs herald the power of the celebration of sound and lyrics offering insights into ourselves, daily life and society.

Sgt Pepper embraces the human experience, culture plus spirituality from the East. No album has shifted consciousness of listeners in so many directions.

Cover of Sgt. Pepper

Often regarded as the most original music cover of any album, the cover shows the Beatles surrounded by 57 people from recent history and contemporary figures, who we assumed would welcome being associated with The Beatles. You see the Beatles reborn as Sgt Pepper’s Band in the front, centre of the collection of the photos.

The Beatles also appear on the cover on the left-hand side as The Beatles with mop hair and dark suits from their past lives as entertainers with pop songs like She Loves You, PS I Love You and I Saw Her Standing There.

On the right hand said of the cover, you see a doll which says Welcome the Rolling Stones. Photos on the cover include Bob Dylan, Carl Jung, Marilyn Monroe, Aldous Huxley, Karl Marx, Marlene Dietrich, Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, Diana Dors, George Bernard Shaw and many more.

Two years before Sgt Pepper, Bob Dylan told the Beatles in a New York hotel lyrics mattered most. Lennon said the sound took priority. Two years later, the Beatles had fused original lyrics with richness of sound.

The Beatles wrote the first hit song for the Rolling Stones, which launched them as rock stars. Andrew Oldham, the Stones manager, told the Stones to be indifferent and detached in contrast to the cheerful humour of The Beatles. In late October 1963, the Beatles wrote I Wanna Hold Your Hand. In December 1966, Mick Jagger and Keith Richard wrote Let’s Spend the Night together. The two songs show a stark contrast between the two rock bands. The Beatles learnt quickly from musical, cultural and spiritual influences around them. They absorbed the influences as part of their evolution into Sgt Pepper.

The Beatles spent six months working on Sgt Pepper with thousands of hours of experiments and takes in the Abbey Road studio, and elsewhere. They gave attention to every detail of every song until the final take matched the vision.

A Masterpiece of Music

Sgt Pepper established The Beatles as The Buddhas of Rock Music.
Here are extracts from the 13 Songs on Sgt. Pepper with a short introduction.
You can find the songs on YouTube.


The Beatles transcend themselves and launch themselves as even a bigger band than the Beatles – for the album.

One, two, three, four
We’re Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you have enjoyed the show
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We’re sorry, but it’s time to go
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We’d like to thank you once again
Sergeant Pepper’s one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band
It’s getting very near the end
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band


Friends share same values. What can friends offer each other? Mutual support and getting high included.

What would you think if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends


The commonly view that John Lennon deliberately matched LSD with the title may not be true. John Lennon said a drawing of his son, Julian, inspired the song, plus some words of author Lewis Carroll. Is it creative imagination or a psychedelic experience or both? Perhaps John didn’t know.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes
Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
She’s gone,
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds


Open to interpretation – an ode to marijuana? Fans standing outside Paul McCartney’s house wanting to get in? Learning to live your own life? I lean towards the third meaning.

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go

I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind from wandering
Where it will go

And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong.

See the people standing there who disagree and never win
And wonder why they don’t get in my door
I’m painting my room in the colourful way

And when my mind is wandering
There I will go
And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong.


On social issues, such as anger, pressure at school…

I used to get mad at my school (no, I can’t complain)
The teachers who taught me weren’t cool (no, I can’t complain)
You’re holding me down (ah-ah)
Turning me ’round (oh-oh)
Filling me up with your rules (fool, you fool)
I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (better)
A little better all the time (it can’t get no worse)

I have to admit it’s getting better (better)
It’s getting better
Since you’ve been mine
Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word, I finally heard
I’m doing the best that I can
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
I have to admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine


Story of a runaway from home who wants to be free

Wednesday morning at five o’clock
As the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more
She goes down the stairs to the kitchen
Clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside, she is free
She, … (we gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (we gave her everything money could buy)
Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy, our baby’s gone.
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly?
How could she do this to me?
She (we never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving (never a thought for ourselves)
Home (we struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home, after living alone, for so many years


Mr. Kite headlines a circus act in the 19th century. Lennon used many words on the poster for the song with the promise the audience will enjoy themselves while Mr Kite also gets the benefit.

For the benefit of Mr. Kite,
There will be a show tonight
On trampoline.

The Hendersons will all be there.
Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair.
What a scene!

Over men and horses, hoops and garters,
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way
Mr. K.
Will challenge the world!

The celebrated Mr. K.
Performs his feat on Saturday
At Bishopsgate.

The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flies through the ring.
Don’t be late!

Messrs. K. and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none.
And of course
Henry The Horse
Dances the waltz!

The band begins at ten to six,
When Mr. K. performs his tricks
Without a sound.


Eastern spirituality deeply touched George Harrison for the rest of his life., His song addresses illusion, truth, emptiness of self-importance and the power of love.

We were talking about the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth
Then it’s far too late
When they pass away
We were talking about the love we all could share
When we find it, to try our best to hold it there with our love
With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew
Try to realise it’s all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small
And life flows on within you and without you


McCartney wrote much of the song aged 15 and returned to it in his 20s. How will he be treated when he gets old?
Will he still be needed? Will he still be fed? A sound engineer speeded up the song to make his voice sound younger. The question remains relevant for many.

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four


A traffic warden issues McCartney with a ticket outside Abbey Studios.
The song reflects on who she is. Paul talks about her appearance, but he wants to take her out on a date.

Lovely Rita meter maid
Nothing can come between us
When it gets dark, I tow your heart away
Standing by a parking meter
When I caught a glimpse of Rita
Filling in a ticket in her little white book
In a cap she looked much older
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man


Title comes from a line in a cornflakes ad that John Lennon heard at breakfast. An account of his boredom with domestic life and sees the same boredom elsewhere. You smile knowing you are on your own.

Good morning
Good morning
Good morning
Good morning
Good morning, ah
Nothing to do to save his life call his wife in
Nothing to say but what a day how’s your boy been
Nothing to do it’s up to you
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s OK
Good morning
Good morning
Good morning, ah
Going to work don’t want to go feeling low down
Heading for home you start to roam then you’re in town
Everybody knows there’s nothing doing
Everything is closed it’s like a ruin
Everyone you see is half asleep
And you’re on your own you’re in the street
After a while you start to smile now you feel cool


The Lonely Hearts Club Band sing some of the song again.


A day in the life of everyman-everywoman, including a friend of the Beatles who died in a car crash, going to see a film, getting out of bed, holes in the road and more.

Have you read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords
I saw a film today, oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on
Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream
I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
I’d love to turn you on


George Martin, the Beatles record producer and music arranger, said his biggest regret in his professional career was not including Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane in the Sgt Pepper album.


John Lennon regarded it as his most important song. A deep journey into his memories of childhood reveals to him Strawberry Fields Forever. His psychedelics experience offers the escape from the unreality of ordinary life. John Lennon acted in an anti-war film How I Won the War when he wrote the song in December 1966.

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me
Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever


Penny Lane refers to a bus shelter in Liverpool where two teenagers, John and Paul would hang out and watch the world go by, as if the world was a stage. The two songs were on a double A side single released in February 1967, five months before the release of Sgt. Pepper.

Penny Lane, there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say, “Hello”
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar
And little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a Mac in the pouring rain
Very strange
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
Wet beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit and meanwhile back in
Penny Lane, there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen
He likes to keep his fire engine clean
It’s a clean machine…

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway.

(A poppy seller raises money for Armistice Day to make the end of the World War 1 (1914-1918). (not about a drug dealer, as some believe).

Final Word

Eleven sublime songs with depth of the ordinary and the trans-ordinary. Perhaps The Beatles could have considered changing their name to the Lonely Hearts Club Band to mark their evolutionary leap of music. They stayed with the name The Beatles.

Every song is worthy of a meditation and reflection.

Strawberry Fields Forever.


A big thank you to The Beatles.


1 thought on “Sgt Pepper established The Beatles as The Buddhas of Rock Music. Intro, short comment on each song with some lyrics”

  1. Hello Christopher, thank you very much for this trip down memory lane. I was 17 when Sgt Pepper came out and I remember buying it, rushing home and playing it on my ‘dansette’ record player in my bedroom. And it blew my mind. It was quite simply the most extraordinary music. I am so grateful I was a teenager in the sixties but over the years I’ve had to resist a background nostalgia and desire to go back there. It was quite simply a magical time, particularly in Bristol where I grew up. I wonder if your remember Jonathan Miller’s black and white film of ‘Alice’? Once seen, unforgettable.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top