Sgt. Pepper and John Q. Public

Tomorrow is the fortieth anniversary of the Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While many consider it the best rock and roll record ever made, it is a crime that it isn’t more popular. Due to legal reasons, the Beatles’ albums have not been released on iTunes or any other music download service. EMI claims the legal hurdles have been cleared and it will happen soon. But will that make a difference?

If you channel-surf through the various music networks, you will find that today’s music listening tastes have changed. Whether it is the rapper du-jour, the cookie-cutter sounds of former American Idol contestants, or a dime-a-dozen emo rock bands, the proof of change is evident. And while there are tribute albums or tribute songs planned for this anniversary, the upcoming BBC sessions for instance, it seems John Q. iPod-owner rarely looks back 4 years–never mind 40.

The Beatles coming to the digital age may be an event for older listeners and enthusiasts who seek out musical milestones, but I doubt they will cause a popular resurgence. And maybe that is the fate of any great work of art, the public forgets but other artists and the hardcore remember. Such inspiration will bring new art, and maybe the next “Beatles.”

Will the Beatles become more popular? Or has the mainstream moved on? (For the record, I consider myself a Beatles fan–my cell phone ring has been “Hey Jude” for years.)KO