One of the perks of living in Rome with my fiancé James Fox was that author and raconteur Gore Vidal lived nearby in a third story penthouse. We often visited him for Sunday brunches, which Gore and his mate of decades, Howard Austen, were famous for. There were always amusing and insightful guests.
One Sunday, we visited Gore with an early pressing of Sgt. Pepper in tow.
After lunch I asked to be excused to put on the album. Gore's penthouse had a rooftop terrace with an amazing view of Rome and the Vatican. The music spilled out onto the terrace.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing as the first strains began. It was clear to me this was a concept album and it was mind-blowingly good. I imagined the heads of Cardinals and Bishops perking up as "With a Little Help From My Friends" wafted over the rooftops and into Vatican City.
I danced until I was out of breath and ran into the dining room. Everyone at the table turned toward me. Gore slammed his hand on the table.
"That's it!" he declared. “They've blown it now. I predict this album will be the end of The Beatles.”
I glanced over at James who shot me a look like... "Do you really want to get into it with Gore for the next hour and debate him?" The whole table was waiting for some sort of show down… but I wasn't going there.
What came to my mind so clearly was— I do not have to defend The Beatles. Not on this day, or on any other.