Why Was The White Album White?

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Screenwriters and directors make it their aim to create something memorable. They do this by means of great scenes and great lines.

Our lives are similarly made up of lines and scenes. Not all moments in a life are equally memorable, but some certainly get elevated above the rest, capturing and re-capturing our attention as we reflect upon them.

When I think of the Beatles’ White Album, numerous associations and memories come to mind. Perhaps most memorable for me is the manner in which the album was introduced to U.S. audiences. I was a teen in New Jersey when the album came out in 1968. A New York FM station spent two evenings playing and talking about one song at a time, beginning with sides 1 and 2 the first evening and sides 3 and 4 the following evening. I remember lying on my bed looking up at the ceiling, taking it in.

I’m not the first to have taken a shine to the White Album, and hardly the last. Yesterday I read a news story about a fellow in New York who transformed collecting original vinyl White Albums into an art form. His record shop had only 1 record… or rather, 650 copies of this one album. He was not selling them, he was buying them. It is fascinating to see pictures of Rutherford Chang’s collection. The album sleeves are in a wide range of conditions, and not many are white any more.

As for why the White Album was white… there was not shortage on the rumor front when I was in school. One rumor was that the original image on the Brit version was so unspeakably gruesome that the marketing people felt it would hinder sales in the U.S. Another rumor was that if you soak the album an image would appear, much like invisible ink that becomes visible when you soak the paper in lemon juice.

All rumors aside, my guess is that it was white “just because.” Certainly it was bold. It may not have been my first white album, though. Around that time I’d purchased an underground Crosby, Stills & Nash bootleg for three dollars at our local record store in Bridgewater. When I asked to buy it the guy behind the cash register eyed me carefully, then reached under the counter. It came in an unmarked white sleeve.

For more White Album trivia check out this page at Mental Floss.

Oh, and for the record, the album does have an official name: The Beatles.

Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com
Photo by the author.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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