November 22, 1968: The Beatles release The Beatles. The double album was released in a sleeve which was white and contained only the name of the band/title embossed on the front cover. They were also numbered. Because of the appearance of the album, it is also called the White Album. Their prior album cover had been vividly (possibly garishly) colored in 1967 when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band debuted. Most of the songs on The Beatles were written in March and April of 1968 and it was recorded between May 30 and October 14 of that year. No singles were released from the double album set but it reached the number one slot in both their homeland and in the US. At the time of its release, it was met with mixed reviews and cited as being non-responsive to the turbulent issues of the late 1960s.
Most of the songs included were written during the men’s stay in India. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh had hosted The Beatles for a Transcendental Meditation course which included long periods of meditation and self-reflection. While the trip was conceived as an escape from the troubles of the world, instead John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both revitalized and resumed their songwriting, often in met in secret to share what they had accomplished separately. While Sgt. Pepper was written in an LSD fog, the men took no hard drugs with them to India. All they had at their disposal was some marijuana. Their cleared minds have been said to allow them to reconnect with their music and Lennon stated he thought he wrote some of his best songs while on retreat.
The album included work from four increasingly independent artists rather from a group effort. The men were becoming more differentiated and more at odds with each other. Some of the recordings do not even include all four members of the band working together. They sometimes worked in different studios using different engineers and then combining sounds. The animosity between the band and managers, editors, engineers, and others became intense and caused disruptions during much of the recording. Things got so intense, Ringo Starr left and had to be begged to return. Of the 30 tracks included, only 16 have all four band members included.
The Beatles was released on this date in Britain and three days later in the US. It was originally to be called A Doll’s House, but the title was scrapped after another British band released Music in a Doll’s House earlier in the year. It was the first album by the band to be released by Apple Records and the only original double album. There was much contention around the double album itself with many, including the producer, feeling it should have been a single album. The cover design was by Richard Hamilton with input from McCartney. In 2008, an original pressing of the album cover with serial number 0000005 sold for £19,201 on eBay.
When you think about rock at its origin, and you think of the Beatles and millions of kids screaming as loud as they can and running as fast as they can towards the Beatles, there’s no one who is that kind of lightning rod, who commands that kind of power and has that kind of creative magma. – Jack Black
My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. – Steve Jobs
The Beatles’ story is all of our stories. It is about how the youth culture emerged, the drug culture emerged, how politics rose to the fore as a universal debate. It’s about rebellion, it’s about the growth of the British entertainment system, the growth of the rock n’ roll entertainment system. – Bob Spitz
You’re not a baby boomer if you don’t have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles breakup, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate. – P. J. O’Rourke
Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.
Humane – In 1954, the Humane Society was founded.