Here’s how I remembered it
Originally it was released as a double-album on vinyl. Four sides, each containing a different act as it were, as though it were a four act play. The album folded open with each side containing a dust-sleeve which held the record, and included four full color photographs, one each of the four Beatles. It also contained a poster that unfolded revealing a large collage of photographs seemingly haphazardly thrown together, and printed on the reverse side of that poster were the lyrics to every song on the album so you could follow along to as you listened.
The poster contained dozens of images, both past and present, of the Beatles. Those images revealed a mellow John Lennon sitting cross-legged and naked in bed with Yoko Ono, a relaxed Paul McCartney floating in the bath, Ringo Starr in a bright yellow edwardian shirt, and a contemplative George Harrison in glorious black and white. All of this was packaged inside this strikingly plain white package with the title ‘The Beatles’ embossed on the cover at an odd angle. All this would be mine less that a month later when I received my first copy as a present for Christmas, 1968.
I was a 14 year old high school freshman when I first heard what would later be referred to as the ‘White Album’, at the time it was simply called “The Beatles”. I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was the Saturday night following the Thanksgiving Holiday back in November of 1968. I was working the cloak room at my local high school dance and we were wrapping it up for the night when a friend walked in with the the brand new 2-cassette edition. Cassettes were a relatively new thing back then and I remember how those two cassettes fitted so neatly inside that beautifully packaged black box case.
He’d also brought along one of those small portable single-speaker cassette players popular at the time and I watched anxiously as he removed the cellophane wrapping. We started with side-one of the first cassette and continued listening intently for the next hour and a half. It was the first time I’d ever heard the album… and I’ve never stopped listening.
Today over forty years later it still has the same impact as it did back then the first time I heard it. On one level or another I’ve been pre-occupied, some might even say obsessed, with it ever since. It has more than any other album been the “soundtrack of my life”.
the white album project