Quiet Desperation

Picturing people who rocked my world

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released on June 1, 1967. I haven't been the same since.

How many people or things or events in your life have made that kind of a difference?

Some moments are immediately indelible and some take time to develop. I can still remember the first time I saw Jennifer, but there were no love arrows thrown down on me.

"Huh?"

That might have been the first thing I ever said to her. She referred to someone we both knew, but I couldn't understand what she was saying. I said, "Speak up. Speak with distinction."

Oh, well, it seems to have worked out.

When I listen to "Sgt. Pepper's," I don't listen to the whole album. Some of it I can do without. But some of it means more to me than I can explain.

The disc jockey at KFWB would say, "Double Beatles," and I would get the chills, when the intro of "A Day in the Life" would come rumbling, again, out of my cheap radio.

I was an art student in 1967. Album covers were fine art to me. The cover of "Sgt. Pepper's" is phenomenal. It was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake.

The Beatles just named names, and their images were assembled on the cover. Dion and Lenny Bruce. Carl Jung and Edgar Allan Poe. Fred Astaire, Bob Dylan, Aldous Huxley, Laurel and Hardy.

James Joyce, Tom Mix, Oscar Wilde.

Some personalities were rejected for a variety of reasons: Leo Gorcey, one of the "Dead End Kids," wanted $400. Idiot. Gandhi was supposed to be placed next to Lewis Carroll, but if he showed up on the cover, India wouldn't allow the record to be printed.

Jesus Christ (John's idea) and Hitler were both rejected.

I looked at the cover again recently, and my little narrative brain said, "What if that were your cover?"

You should do the same thing that I am about to do.

The cover depicts chosen individuals, along with a bunch of other things, like a 9-inch Sony television, owned by Paul McCartney, and a velvet snake.

I would be sure to have my father's flight jacket on my cover. And a vessel of chip brushes and paint thinner.

I would have a likeness of Gerry Goffin. Goffin just died. He co-wrote "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"

There would be likenesses of Charles Dickens, Oscar Levant and Dorothy Parker. David Letterman. Warren Spahn.

"Spahn and Sain and pray for rain."

Of course, Otis Redding.

I would want to have a few inexplicables on the cover. Judge Crater and the Collyer brothers, and some west coast luminary named Collier.

Michael Collier. I lived at 208 Ireland Avenue and he lived at 198 Ireland Avenue. We were both undecided teenagers. He still shines on.

Pink Floyd. They would be on the cover. Smitty, certainly. E.E. Cummings. How do you get a name like that? Nat King Cole. The Del-Vikings. The Everly Brothers would be a cinch. The Skyliners.

Edward Everett Horton and Preston Sturges. Greg Watts, another dear pal.

Are you working on your list? The Shirelles, Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Matt Holliday, Captain Harry E. Smith, Jennifer and Cindy. Mark Friday wearing a softball cap.

Easy: Leonardo da Vinci, Wassily Kandinsky, Edward Hopper, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Richard Diebenkorn, Frankie Lymon, Jan Stüssy.

The cover would be an opportunity to identify some people who weren't one-hit wonders in my life, but who made me turn my head and look, or listen or read.

It would be a thank-you card.

The woman who handed me a small red dog at an animal shelter.

Who wrote "I'm in the Mood for Love"? She would have to be on my cover.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.