- Published on 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 8 on “Magical Mystery Tour”
What the Beatles said about “Strawberry Fields Forever”
JOHN 1968: “Strawberry Fields was a place near us that happened to be a Salvation Army home. But Strawberry Fields– I mean, I have visions of Strawberry Fields. And there was Penny Lane, and the Cast Iron Shore, which I’ve just got in some song now, and they were just good names– just groovy names. Just good sounding. Because Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go.”
PAUL 1974: “That wasn’t ‘I buried Paul’ at all– that was John saying ‘Cranberry sauce.’ It was the end of Strawberry Fields. That´s John´s humor. John would say something totally out of sync, like cranberry sauce. If you don´t realize that John´s apt to say cranberry sauce when he feels like it, then you start to hear a funny little word there, and you think, ‘Aha!'”
JOHN 1980: “Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs… not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. Near that home was Strawberry Fields, a house near a boys’ reformatory where I used to go to garden parties as a kid with my friends Nigel and Pete. We always had fun at Strawberry Fields. So that’s where I got the name. But I used it as an image. Strawberry Fields Forever. ‘Living is easy with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see.’ It still goes, doesn’t it? Aren’t I saying exactly the same thing now? The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is– let’s say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, ‘No one I think is in my tree.’ Well, I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius– ‘I mean it must be high or low,’ the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn’t see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn’t see. I always was so psychic or intuitive or poetic or whatever you want to call it, that I was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way. Surrealism had a great effect on me, because then I realized that the imagery in my mind wasn’t insanity; that if it was insane, I belong in an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms. Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn’t know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions. But I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not.”
Info about “Strawberry Fields Forever”
It was released on 13 February 1967 as a double A-side single with “Penny Lane”. It represented a departure from the group’s previous singles and a novel listening experience for the contemporary pop audience. While the song initially divided and confused music critics and the group’s fans, it proved highly influential on the emerging psychedelic genre. Its accompanying promotional film is similarly recognised as a pioneering work in the medium of music video.
Lennon based the song on his childhood memories of playing in the garden of Strawberry Field, a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool. Starting in November 1966, the band spent 45 hours in the studio, spread over five weeks, creating three versions of the track. The final recording combined two of those versions, which were entirely different in tempo, mood and musical key. It features reverse-recorded instrumentation, Mellotron flute sounds, an Indian swarmandal, tape loops and a fade-out/fade-in coda, as well as a cello and brass arrangement by producer George Martin. For the promotional film, the band used experimental techniques such as reverse effects, jump-cuts and superimposition.
The song was the first track the Beatles recorded after completing Revolver and was intended for inclusion on their forthcoming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Instead, with pressure from their record company and management for new product, the group were forced to issue the single, and then adhered to their philosophy of omitting previously released singles from their albums. The double A-side peaked at number 2 on the Record Retailer chart, thereby breaking the band’s four-year run of chart-topping singles in the UK. In the United States, “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. To the band’s displeasure, the song was later included on the US Magical Mystery Tour LP.
Lennon viewed “Strawberry Fields Forever” as his finest work with the Beatles. After Lennon’s murder in New York City, a section of Central Park was named after the song. In 1996, the discarded first version of the song was issued on the outtakes compilation Anthology 2; in 2006, a new version was created for the remix album Love. Artists who have covered the song include Richie Havens, Todd Rundgren, Peter Gabriel, Ben Harper, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs featuring Debbie Harry. In 1990, a version by the Madchester group Candy Flip became a top-ten hit in the UK and Ireland.
- John Lennon – vocals, rhythm guitar, bongos, Mellotron (end)
- Paul McCartney – Mellotron (take 7 portion), bass guitar, piano, lead guitar (end), timpani, bongos
- George Harrison – lead guitar (take 7 portion), slide guitar, swarmandal, timpani, maracas
- Ringo Starr – drums, percussion
- Uncredited – tack piano
- George Martin – cello and trumpet arrangement
- Mal Evans – tambourine
- Neil Aspinall – güiro
- Terry Doran – maracas
- Tony Fisher – trumpet
- Greg Bowen – trumpet
- Derek Watkins – trumpet
- Stanley Roderick – trumpet
- John Hall – cello
- Derek Simpson – cello
- Norman Jones – cello