Robert Christgau

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Beatles really started the whole long-haired hippie business four years ago, and who knows whether they developed with it or it developed with them? All those hours of analysis are a gauge of how important the Beatles have become to … us.

One song on Sgt. Pepper, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", seems to me deliberately one-dimensional, nothing more than a description of a traveling circus. It fits beautifully into the album, which is kind of a long vaudeville show, but I feel almost certain it has no "meaning". Yet one girl, age fifteen, writes that it presents "life as an eerie, perverted circus." Is this sad? silly? horrifying? contemptible? From an adult it might be all four, but...

(The entire section is 600 words.)