I must say, I find the discussion of giant landmarks like this album that came before my time to be a bit odd. I once heard a story from a guy who took a film class, and got shown a really early pre-sound film in class, a scene they all regarded as fairly simple and boring, and the prof asked them afterwards why they thought he'd shown it. Nobody could answer. Apparently, it was the first use of cutting back and forth between two vantage points in film history, but to people versed in modern film, that rather revolutionary approach was totally invisible. I wonder if the impact of seminal records like this is the same for people who weren't there. I know their music very well, of course, but I learned it all at the same time - my parents listened to a lot of radio stations that played Beatles music, but I was hearing Love Me Do at the same time as Let It Be, and it all blended in together. Going back and looking at the timeline, I do prefer their later stuff, but it's not a sudden shift to me, it's a gradual evolution.
"You had to be there" is one of those sentiments that gets used most often to cover up a gulf in understanding - something that's meaningful to one person is white noise to another. I don't like being the second person in that - I want to know and understand everything, and it bugs me when I'm missing something. But still, it feels a bit like I'm missing something. It's a great album, but the impact isn't the same for those of us looking at it from fifty years later. Shame, really.