It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Back in 1987, I remember watching a newscast that began with the iconic opening line from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The program made note of the fact that it was “twenty years ago today” when the song came out, to which I then thought, “Interesting. That means it was actually forty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

It was also at that moment that I realized “twenty years” isn’t a very large time span. Not when you’ve lived it a couple times or more. Back in 1987, the thought of 1967 or even 1947 seemed like forever. Every event that stretches that beyond your own personal timeline feels that way.

I mean, 1947 wasn’t too long after World War II. And my 1987 self assumed that war took place just after the Civil War. After all, both wars took place in black & white.

Today I can remember back in 2007 when it crossed my mind, “It was twenty years ago today when I first heard that it was twenty years ago today that the Beatles sang about it being twenty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” That meant the Beatles song was now forty years old and World War II more than sixty.

When did I blink?

Cut to New Year’s Day this year. As the clock struck January, my brain took a trip back twenty years to 1997. Were I to hazard a guess, I would’ve said 1997 was just a couple months ago, not a couple decades ago. I then began recalling all the movies that came out that year:

  • Titanic
  • Men in Black
  • Air Force One and the Ass-Kicking President
  • Batman and Robin (Yes, this movie actually happened)
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding
  • Contact
  • The Fifth Element

Really? Even The Fifth Element came out twenty years ago now? Tell me it ain’t so!

But here’s the tough part: that was also the year that George Lucas released his Twentieth Anniversary Editions of the first three Star Wars films. I remember that very clearly because theaters were running all three films back to back and Laura and I went to see them. What a rare opportunity! All three films, in the theater, in one day. It was the most amazing backache I ever had.

But wait a sec . . . that means 2017 is somehow suddenly the Fortieth Anniversary of the first Star Wars film. How is that possible? “Forty years” is that same time period between World War II and my college-aged self pondering a twenty year old Beatles album. Not between movie events in my own personal lifespan.

I’m not really sure how I feel about all this. Maybe stop back here in 2027 and I’ll have it all figured out by then. If you can’t wait that long, just blink a couple times.

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