Fifty years ago today, The Beatles released 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' - one of the most widely acclaimed albums in rock history. But even masterpieces have their detractors, and one of the biggest critics of 'Pepper' is none other than Beatle John Lennon.
There was no shortage of praise for 'Pepper' when it was first released. Kenneth Tynan of The Times called it "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization." And Rolling Stone later praised it as "the most important rock & roll album ever made" when placing it atop their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
But Lennon had another word for his masterpiece: overrated.
"It wasn't that spectacular when you look back on it," Lennon said years later. "It's called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. It starts off with Sergeant Pepper and introducing Billy Shears. And that's the end apart from the so-called reprise. Otherwise, every other song could have been on any other album. It was great for its time. But people have this dream about Pepper.”
So the album was more of a triumph for hype than music, according to Lennon, who particularly detested one song of the album: 'Good Morning Good Morning', which a "desperate" Lennon threw together because he only had a week to write songs for the album.
"It's a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought," Lennon told David Sheff. "The 'Good morning, good morning' [chorus] was from a Kellogg's cereal commercial. I always had the TV on very low in the background when I was writing and it came over and then I wrote the song."
Here's the ad that inspired the song.
So 'Good Morning Good Morning' was little more than a psychedelic jingle for cereal. At least, that's what Lennon thought back in 1980. But had he not died tragically that year, it's possible that he might have come around to appreciating that song and the rest of the album later on.
That was the case for New York Times critic Richard Goldstein, who panned 'Pepper' in 1967 as a "shoddy" and "undistinguished collection of work." But he sang a different tune years later, when he realized that his negative review was the product of sexual repression.