Well, make that 40 years and 3 days ago today.
I was going through a very existential phase at the time. It seemed to me that the Beatles had reached their apex with Rubber Soul and that they were only fit for teenie boppers. I was listening to much more sophisticated music by then: Simon and Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan (still), the Moody Blues, and maybe the Doors. I didn't even realize the Beatles had put out a new album.
And so a few years later (about the time Abbey Road came out) a friend turned me on to Sgt. Pepper and I was awestruck. What an album! How had I missed it? These guys were bigger than Jesus....and still are in my book. I once had a story that I had written using only Beatles lines. Wish I could find it now. I might try to reconstruct it here now that I've found this.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band may not have changed the world, but it certainly changed the world of popular music. It was suddenly ok to sound different. Innovative and exotic instruments were incorporated into everyday pop music. For a while, there was a race to see who could play the weirdest instrument or make a common instrument like a guitar make the weirdest sound.
All of this innovation was symbolic of the times. The concept of the "open mind" was taking hold and people were experiencing new things and expressing themselves in new ways for the first time since before the war. (WWII) Ideas were treated as important things to be protected and shared and respected. The age of "sheep" was coming to a close. Ozzie and Harriet became Ozzie and Black Sabbath. Dark times loomed.
In Louisville, KY we have a festival each May called "Abbey Road on the River." If you are a Beatles fan or fancy yourself a "hippie," come on out next May and have some fun with your friends.
Sgt. Pepper was probably the last frivolous thing to happen for a long time...