Thirty-six years ago today, on February 17, 1967 the Beatles released perhaps the greatest two-sided single in the history of the rock music tradition: “Strawberry Fields Forever” paired with “Penny Lane.” It was a beautiful moment for humanity.
Hopefully, 100 years from now people will regard the Beatles and Stanley Kubrick as more important historically than Richard Nixon or Vietnam. They’re the best side of history. It counts to the good that most people today would know more about the characters in Shakespeare’s plays than about the insignificant politicians of those days.
As Kubrick once quoted Robert Ardrey,
“We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles and our irreconcilable regiments? For our treaties, whatever they may be worth; our symphonies, however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams, however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.”
Here’s hoping that our times will be better remembered for The Simpsons, The Shield and Harry Potter rather than for Hussein, anthrax, and duct tape.