George has a presence on Sgt. Pepper, too. Though bored and restless throughout most of the recording process, he makes himself known on a solitary track. “Within You Without You” is a foggy and contemplative trance in the middle of the craziness of the rest of the album. Paul and John spin about in their own circles, but it seems they’re brought to a near-halt by George here. “WYWY” has a ponderous calm to it, and it’s only escalated by the frantic energy of the rest of the album. George’s lyrics are about the oneness of the universe, the way most people live unaware of a world beyond their nose, and how our problems can be solved by things as simple as love and understanding.

“WYWY” says, “you’re really only very small, and life goes on within you and without you.” On the one hand, this rubs against the humanism that’s part of most people’s views. Many people are forced to think the entire human experience only has meaning as it applies to them in particular. To be told they’re “very small” is to tell them that they don’t matter at all.

Then there’s the other view. The idea that we’re “only very small” means that others matter, too. When we realize that we’re all the same size (very small), how we treat one another changes. The individual becomes less important while the good of the community becomes more important. And by community, I could really mean anything; it might be as small as your marriage or family, or as big as your town, country, or the world at large. Once the focus is off the me me me, our attitude shifts and we start to be useful to the world. It’s a position of better balance.

Perhaps by accident, “WYWY” also presents a principle that’s found in Christianity. The line “the people who gain the world and lose their souls” is actually a quote from Jesus himself. The book of Matthew says:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:25-27

I have a feeling George would be pretty upset to hear that he was a Christian prophet. Oh well; he probably has bigger things on his mind now.

Tomorrow: Even dogs like Sgt. Pepper!

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