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Old Jul 29, 2012, 11:16 AM   #1
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I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I find nothing when I search the forums. My question is: What did John mean by the line "So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise?" I get the rest of the lyrics, pretty obvious. But I was wondering what he meant by that particular line. Any ideas?
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Old Jul 29, 2012, 12:00 PM   #2
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dont know a actual meaning of that line but to PiDers its a clue considering the cover had so many clues.

what so do i think he meant. probably referring to the fact that sgt.pepper is were the started to get really different yes they were difrent in rubble soul and revolver but sgt pepper on the other hand
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Old Jul 29, 2012, 12:53 PM   #3
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Wow, I just went back to read those lyrics. What a hatchet job he does on McCartney. My suspicions are Sgt Pepper is a nom de plume or pseudonym for somebody real. "You better see right through that mother's eyes". While John and George were recording How Do You Sleep, they kept referring to "Beatle Ed". Who was making a pig of himself. That was obviously McCartney. I suspect Sgt Pepper is a name for someone else and it's a personal reference that only that circle of folks know. Maybe only Paul knows exactly what he was talking about.
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Old Jul 29, 2012, 04:10 PM   #4
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Funny I've been giving this one a bit of thought lately too and almost started a discussion on it in a writer's group. (Might still do that). the first two lines of HOw Do YOu SLeep don't make sense to me at all. I used to think 'mother' was a reference to Linda as it is later in the song, but now I wonder if the first use was a reference to Paul's mother Mary (Who was dead and the next line was about Paul being dead though the line after that, about his head, seems to me to be a comment on his mental health which we know was not good at that time for several years)
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Old Jul 29, 2012, 09:06 PM   #5
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I used to think 'mother' was a reference to Linda as it is later in the song, but now I wonder if the first use was a reference to Paul's mother Mary
I don't know what the first line means, though I tend to believe it was just a line that sounded good to John and didn't necessarily mean anything specific... but I do think the 'mother' reference is just shorthand for motherf----r. Who the mofo is exactly, I've no idea...
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 08:00 AM   #6
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"So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise", means Paul was not expecting the leap forward The Beatles made. Just like "The only thing you done was Yesterday", John though Paul was not ready for Sgt Pepper, that he lacked imagination.
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Old Jul 30, 2012, 10:26 PM   #7
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maybe sgt.pepper was LSD...???


http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2066


"I have seen few, if any, interpretions the opening lyrics of the song, "So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise/You better see right through that mother's eyes..." I offer an interpretation based on McCartney's description of his first and only LSD experience with Lennon in the Barry Miles biography, "Many Years From Now" (excerpted below). In short, McCartney describes how LSD freaked him out, and Lennon elsewhere has described how LSD "profoundly disturbed" McCartney, whom he had also described as the "most stable" of The Beatles. With Sgt Pepper being synonymous for LSD or psychedelia, I suggest the opening lyric describes how LSD affected McCartney. Further, McCartney describes below how he and Lennon would look into each other's eyes while on LSD, see themselves, and how "blown away" he was by it ("You'd better see right through that mother's eye"). I think these lyrics may be Lennon's attempt to knock McCartney off balance, as LSD clearly did, and make him feel psychologically insecure. (McCartney also describes the peer pressure that led him to experiment in the first place, saying the band members said,'Hey, man, this whole band's had acid, why are you holding out? What's the reason, what is it about you?').

I believe you will accept this interpretation of the lyrics if you read the excerpt below and the biography itself, which is largely based on interviews with McCartney.

PAUL: I thought, Maybe this is the moment where I should take a trip with him. It's been coming for a long time. It's often the best way, without thinking about it too much, just slip into it. John's on it already, so I'll sort of catch up. It was my first trip with John, or with any of the guys. We stayed up all night, sat around and hallucinated a lot.

Me and John, we'd known each other for a long time. Along with George and Ringo, we were best mates. And we looked into each other's eyes, the eye contact thing we used to do, which is fairly mind-boggling. You dissolve into each other. But that's what we did, round about that time, that's what we did a lot. And it was amazing. You're looking into each other's eyes and you would want to look away, but you wouldn't, and you could see yourself in the other person. It was a very freaky experience and I was totally blown away.

There's something disturbing about it. You ask yourself, 'How do you come back from it? How do you then lead a normal life after that?' And the answer is, you don't. After that you've got to get trepanned or you've got to meditate for the rest of your life. You've got to make a decision which way you're going to go.

I would walk out into the garden - 'Oh no, I've got to go back in.' It was very tiring, walking made me very tired, wasted me, always wasted me. But 'I've got to do it, for my well-being.' In the meantime John had been sitting around very enigmatically and I had a big vision of him as a king, the absolute Emperor of Eternity. It was a good trip. It was great but I wanted to go to bed after a while.

I'd just had enough after about four or five hours. John was quite amazed that it had struck me in that way. John said, 'Go to bed? You won't sleep!' 'I know that, I've still got to go to bed.' I thought, now that's enough fun and partying, now ... It's like with drink. That's enough. That was a lot of fun, now I gotta go and sleep this off. But of course you don't just sleep off an acid trip so I went to bed and hallucinated a lot in bed. I remember Mal coming up and checking that I was all right. 'Yeah, I think so.' I mean, I could feel every inch of the house, and John seemed like some sort of emperor in control of it all. It was quite strange. Of course he was just sitting there, very inscrutably."
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 06:07 PM   #8
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I wondered if it was an LSD reference too, or to the entire summer of Love and the entire psychedelic experience and how it changed all of them in so many ways.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 07:32 PM   #9
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I like the Sgt. Pepper = LSD concept. May very well be true because it makes some sense.

Someone on the songfacts site said that John even admitted that it was just code for acid. I'd like to find that actual quote.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 07:33 PM   #10
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P.S. [to be read in a John accent] "You listenin' to this, SilverBeatle?!"

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Old Aug 01, 2012, 01:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Maia 66 View Post
I like the Sgt. Pepper = LSD concept. May very well be true because it makes some sense.

Someone on the songfacts site said that John even admitted that it was just code for acid. I'd like to find that actual quote.
Yeah, it's an interesting idea but I'm not convinced that the 'you' in the first line is McCartney.

To me Lennon is speaking to the listener saying Sgt. Pepper surprised a lot of people who thought the Beatles were going to implode when they stopped touring.

The 'you' in the second line is also the listener saying, 'look this guy may be talented but you don't know him like I do'...
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 05:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Maia 66 View Post
I like the Sgt. Pepper = LSD concept. May very well be true because it makes some sense.

Someone on the songfacts site said that John even admitted that it was just code for acid. I'd like to find that actual quote.
I thought he admitted that Lucy in the Sky really was a code for acid like originally thought
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 05:52 AM   #13
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Yeah, it's an interesting idea but I'm not convinced that the 'you' in the first line is McCartney.

To me Lennon is speaking to the listener saying Sgt. Pepper surprised a lot of people who thought the Beatles were going to implode when they stopped touring.

The 'you' in the second line is also the listener saying, 'look this guy may be talented but you don't know him like I do'...
and then the 'you' in the third line is Paul? I think all the 'you' s are Paul.

Paul did make a rebuttal. He replied, "Very well, thank you." Not making this up.
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 07:56 AM   #14
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and then the 'you' in the third line is Paul? I think all the 'you' s are Paul.
The second line doesn't make sense if the 'you' is Paul because in that case 'that mother' automatically becomes someone else.

You better see right through that mother's eyes.
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 10:43 AM   #15
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I like the LSD analogy. I also believe he's addressing Paul in every line of that song.
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 02:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Winston View Post
"So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise", means Paul was not expecting the leap forward The Beatles made. Just like "The only thing you done was Yesterday", John though Paul was not ready for Sgt Pepper, that he lacked imagination.
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Yeah, it's an interesting idea but I'm not convinced that the 'you' in the first line is McCartney.

To me Lennon is speaking to the listener saying Sgt. Pepper surprised a lot of people who thought the Beatles were going to implode when they stopped touring.

The 'you' in the second line is also the listener saying, 'look this guy may be talented but you don't know him like I do'...
I have always listened to it thinking that what he was getting at was either of these.
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 02:14 PM   #17
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PS: suuuuuuuch a vicious song!
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Old Aug 01, 2012, 09:38 PM   #18
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Yes I like the LSD angle, makes sense that he was telling Paul "So LSD knocked you for a loop, eh?" And then maybe he's saying you better realize how square and old-fashioned you are. I know John liked to knock Paul for being uncool sometimes and I think being hip and all that was important to them back then.
Thanks for all the replies, I enjoy reading all the different ideas.
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Old Jun 11, 2016, 09:29 AM   #19
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Does anybody have any new ideas on this? I've been talking about it on another site and it still seems to puzzle a lot of people.

How many of you think that Sgt Pepper here is really LSD?
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Old Jun 15, 2016, 02:40 AM   #20
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Wow, I just went back to read those lyrics. What a hatchet job he does on McCartney.
... the released version is almost nothing, compared to some of the lines he had when running through the song with the other musicians, in "Imagine", the film.
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