After watching the making of the Beatles’ album


FYE-1220-01F – FYS: History of Rock & Roll



After watching the making of the Beatles’ album


This unit deals with the mid to late 1960’s after the British Invasion hit the U.S. The Brits were great students of early rock-n-roll and understood the Blues and in a sense, taught U.S. musicians about its own history and where many of those chord progressions and solos from Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters originated. Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, and many other Brits gave props to their American influences and expanded the musical horizon with showing how a popular song could be strong, melodic, and have some great chord progressions, but also have some great lead guitar solos. The U.S. answered with the Beach Boys, whose mastermind and main songwriter, Brian Wilson, releasing some very melodic and complex pop music in 1966 with Pet Sounds. But, the main U.S. songwriter to help push the boundaries was Bob Dylan. His lyrics, which were influenced by past folk political folk artists, were deep and inspired many civil rights activists to keep going to promote social justice in a racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist American society that did not want to move beyond the complacency and conservatism of the 1950’s.

Thus, the youth culture reacted against this conservative, war hungry older generation by dropping out of this way of being by trying alternative lifestyles and taking some powerful mind-bending drugs. The music that resulted from this experimentation was called the Psychedelic period of popular music. It pretty much started in 1965 with the Warlocks, who would later change their name to the Grateful Dead, playing some interesting get-togethers where people would drop acid, which was still legal then, and trip and form a mind-expanding community. By 1967 everything was in full swing. As you can see from the albums that came out during 1967, many great sounds and influential masterpieces appeared since we got to hear debut albums from Hendrix, Pink Floyd (w/ Syd Barret), The Doors, and the Velvet Underground. 1967 was also the year The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s, which was an album that broke the standard song composition with sound effects and a full-length album concept, one of the first albums to do this. 1967 was also the year I was born and I do not remember that much, but I knew my parents loved the Beatles and Beach Boys and I grew up listening to them. By the end of the 60’s, fear took hold after assassinations of MLK and Robert Kennedy Jr. in 1968 while the drugs changed from mind-expanding ones to destructive heart-stopping ones and the Psychedelic era sort of died out. The Woodstock Festival in the summer of 1969 was the highlight and the tragedy of the Altamount Speedway show only s few months later where the Rolling Stones played while a young black guy was stabbed to death by the Hells Angels was the low point. But, throughout it all, some amazing music was created, which, to me, still holds up creative sound and innovation.

1. After watching the making of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, please answer the following questions with SPECIFIC EXAMPLES AND SUPPORT FROM THE VIDEO as well as your own observations on what you saw.

A.            What are your thoughts about the album as a whole and how it was recorded. What innovations in recording and songwriting did you see? Why is this album considered one the greatest albums ever written in popular music?

B.            What song was your favorite one that you watched being constructed and produced? Why does this song resonate with you? Please explain with specific examples.

C.            How did this album influence popular music and they way musicians and audiences understood music? Please explain with specific examples.

2. The Doors self-titled debut album, like the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, was a reactionary album. The Pistols reacted to what they saw as the pomp and pretentiousness of prog-rcok and the dinosaur bands selling millions of albums in the 1970’s. The Doors reacted to the flower power/peace and love vibe of the Psychedelic Period with their lead singer and lyricist, Jim Morrison, writing about some darker subjects like death and losing one’s mind to going too far out. Morrison influenced the punk scene of the 70’s with his “dangerous” way of being on stage since you never knew what he was going to say or do on any occasion. Morrison influenced Iggy Pop, the godfather of Punk, and many other bands that we listen to today. Morrison influenced a lot of people including myself since, as a high school student, I started listening to his words and read some biographies on the band and was inspired to read The Beat Poets like Jack Kerouac, the French Symbolists like Rimbaud and Baudelaire, and philosophy from Nietzsche and the ancient Greeks since these were the writers who Morrison read. Of course, as a high school student, I didn’t understand a lot of what I read, but, that spark of wanting to read and write and figure out the world beyond the limited confines of my backyard was lit as I discovered more literature as an undergraduate and decided to be a high school English teacher. I don’t think I would be writing to you right now if I had not listened to The Doors and started reading about Jim Morrison. I think we all have that one person who inspired us to create and go further out, and Morrison was the one who helped me see a bigger picture. Although Morrison was an alcoholic and died of a heart attack at age 27 in Paris after exiling himself due to fear of going to prison on an indecent exposure charge from a concert in Dade County, FL, he did change music with his words and trying to push the boundaries that he saw stagnating people.

A.            After watching this video on the making of their debut album, The Doors, what are your thoughts on the way this album sounds? Do you think this album was a reaction to the Psychedelic flower power music that was happening around that time period? Why or why not?

B.            What was your favorite song or least favorite on this album? Please explain how it was written and constructed and recorded in the studio. Why do you like or dislike this song? What did you learn about songwriting and constructing a song that you might not have known before listening to this song? Please explain with specific examples from the video as well as you own opinions.

C.            Why do you think The Doors were so influential on subsequent generations of bands and musicians? Why are they still listened to today? Please explain with specific examples from the video as well as your own opinions.

3. What are your thoughts on the 4 albums you were required to listen to?

Pink Floyd- Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced? (1967)

The Velvet Underground- The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

Grateful Dead- Anthem of the Sun (1968)

Other thoughts on Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde or the Beach Boys’ Pets Sounds?



****Please respond to at least 2 other students as well as answer ANY/ALL questions asked of you.

After watching the making of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album,





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