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Strawberry Fields Forever

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“Strawberry Fields Forever”
“Strawberry Fields Forever” cover
Single by The Beatles
from the album Magical Mystery Tour
A-side "Penny Lane"
Released 13 February 1967 (UK)
17 February 1967 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road: November–December 1966
Genre Psychedelic rock / Experimental rock
Length 4:10
Label Parlophone (UK)
Capitol (U.S.)
Writer(s) Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"Eleanor Rigby" / "Yellow Submarine"
"Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane"
"All You Need Is Love"
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.

—John Lennon, 1968

Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs in a nice semidetached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around... not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. In the class system, it was about half a class higher than Paul, George and Ringo, who lived in government-subsidized housing. We owned our house and had a garden. They didn't have anything like that. 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 would go there and hang out and sell lemonade bottles for a penny. 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. [Singing] “(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. As a child, I would say, “But this is going on!” and everybody would look at me as if I was crazy. 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. It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to. Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did. It was very, very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent van Gogh — all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness.”

—John Lennon, Interview, Playboy, 1980

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!'

—Paul McCartney, 1974

John wanted to keep his acoustic guitar for this session, so Paul took over on the mellotron. With Ringo on drums and George on electric guitar, the song was heavier-sounding than I had imagined it from my initial run-through with John, but it came together very quickly. Almost immediately, we arrived at a take that we thought would be the final one. That first take is brilliant, especially John's vocal: clear, pure, and riveting. As he sang it that night, the song became hypnotic: gentle and wistful, but very strong too, his sparse vocal standing in sharp contrast to the full sound of George's electric guitar, Paul's imaginative mellotron and Ringo's magnificent drums. Sticking to John's original idea, Strawberry Fields Forever started with what became, in the finished version, the chorus: "Living is easy with eyes closed..." (The introduction that we all now know had not yet been written.) Typically, John asked for a speed change on his vocal recording. I thought his voice was one of the all-time greats, but he was always asking me to distort or bend it in some way, to "improve" it, as he thought. So when we overdubbed his vocal, we pumped up the tape frequency to 53 hertz instead of the normal 50 hertz. On playback at normal speed the change lowered his voice by a semitone, making it sound warmer and huskier.

—George Martin, Summer of Love
(Macmillan Ltd., London)


"Modern" Paul introducing the original music video from 1967.

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