I can scarcely believe that it was more than 20 years ago that I first met a quartet of brash military recruits and, sensing that perhaps the “by the book” life of drills and forced marches would not suit their needs, I took those lads under my wing and taught them how to play musical instruments. You must realize that all other military officers held little hope for you. I, however, believed in you. This has always been my province: siphon off a small group of lads out of each class and turn them into a popular music combo. Many have been astonished to learn such an option exists within the British military, but it does. It was established by a young Queen Elizabeth II on a drunken afternoon. Nonetheless, it was and is legal.
As you know, most of these bands exist for perhaps a year or two, perform at dances, that kind of thing. But here you are, 20 years later, still together, still singing, still traveling the world and recording albums and making yourself persistently famous under the name Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s that last bit, the band name, that I wish to speak to you about.
When I confided to you, Billy, all those years ago, after the band’s first practice, that my life was a lonely one, I thought it was a confidential conversation. You instantly got up and ran out of the room to fill the other lads in on my loneliness, and the four of you immediately decided to incorporate this information into the name of your band. Not wanting to squelch your nascent creativity, I consented (or, rather, stopped shouting “Please, God, no!” after 20 minutes, during which time you four chanted the name with the fervor of football hooligans). The remainder of your military service was painful, with other enlisted men and officers constantly shouting “Hey, Pepper! Cry yourself to sleep last night?” and “Say, Sgt. Pepper! Me and some mates are going to the pub … and you’re not invited!” and “You, Sgt. Pepper, shall die unloved and alone!” I wept constantly, and that makes it even harder to meet a nice girl.
Still, I figured, when none of you re-enlisted, the musical reminders of my loneliness would ebb, and perhaps I could meet a nice lady who didn’t know about the band. Or at least a friend, someone to play tennis with. Not so. You went private, signed a record deal, and were on your way to the big time. I’m told that record-company executives urged you to use a more marketable name but you insisted on keeping the old one in order to draw more attention to my loneliness. Hit singles soon followed, like “Perhaps Sgt. Pepper Comes Off as Too Needy,” “He’s Simply Not a Very Interesting Person,” and, most painfully, “Unhygienic Stupid Git Who Will Die Alone.” I appreciated the gold records you sent me, but I can’t say I was happy about it all.
Well, maybe they’re a flash in the pan, I thought. Lots of bands go out of style, after all. And you did. But then you would come back in style. You’d go out again, I’d breathe a sigh of relief, and then—pop!—back in. This has gone on for 20 years. At one point, you recorded a concept album with each song told from the point of view of a person who would, over the course of the song, learn about me and then opt to never be my friend. There was the special Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band kids’ record that taught how all strangers are simply friends you haven’t met yet, “except Sgt. Pepper,” you sang, “who must never be spoken to because he will kill you and your mum and dad.” And, most chillingly, there was the live album recorded at the funeral of the last friend I ever had, Tommy, who had been my best mate when I was 9. I had made arrangements to reconnect with him. However, he was mysteriously murdered by a man the police never caught, but whom they described as wearing a “brightly colored faux-military outfit.” Because of your albums, “He shall die alone” became a catch phrase that nearly everyone in the world knows. It’s shrieked at me by strangers whenever I leave the house (which is not often anymore).
Battling loneliness is difficult even without having a veteran rock band constantly drawing attention to it. I know you always get by with a little help from your friends, but the efforts of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band make my loneliness a life sentence. Imagine a day in my life, boys. Here I am, almost 64 now, with no one to turn to.
Alas, the violent sobs are beginning to return, so I best wrap this up. I am writing to request a refund of the money I spent on the last album. You had offered a guarantee that the music would “raise a smile.” It did not. Please remit cost of album at your earliest convenience.
Thank you and best of luck in all your endeavors, you miserable bastards.