behind the beatles: strawberry fields forever
POSTED ON 12/12/2005 | PERMALINK |0 Comments | BOOKMARK

The single was first released on February 13, 1967, in Britain and on February 17, 1967 in the United States, as one side of a double A-side single, teamed with the McCartney composition "Penny Lane". The Beatles had originally planned to release "Strawberry Fields Forever" backed with "When I'm Sixty-Four". When Brian Epstein asked George Martin about the sessions for the single, Martin told Epstein the group had recorded its two finest songs ("Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane"). Epstein urged Martin to issue the songs on a double A-sided single in order to regain popularity. The tactic backfired as the single failed to reach #1 in the UK because the sales had to be split between both soungs.

In the U.S., both songs were also subsequently included on the LP Magical Mystery Tour, which was only released as a six-track double-EP in the UK. The LP format is now the official version in the Beatles discography.

The two songs were recorded in late 1966, the first fruits of the extended sessions for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and both were originally intended to be included on the LP. They were also the first works released by the Beatles after their retirement from touring.
"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."

-John Lennon, 1980
Undoubtedly spurred on by the recent, dazzling Beach Boys single "Good Vibrations", "Strawberry Fields Forever" was clearly intended to be the most musically and technically advanced pop record released up to that time. It featured extensive overdubbing, the prominent use of reverse tape effects and tape loops, and extensive audio compression and equalisation.

The first part of the song up through the beginning of the second refrain features mellotron, guitar, and drums. The second part shifts to a heavy orchestra-like texture which sounds like a much larger ensemble than the four trumpets and three cellos actually used. This group was superimposed onto a backing track of cymbals recorded to playback sounding backwards, guitar, swordmandel (an exotic Indian instrument which looks like a table harp and sounds like a harpsichord), and several other instruments and effects, much of which get lost in the background. John's vocal is heavily distorted throughout and is double tracked in the refrains.

The Mellotron used in this song is currently owned by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.

Believers think that Lennon said "I buried Paul" at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever", although Lennon claimed he was actually saying "cranberry sauce" and producer George Martin confirmed it in his book Summer of Love. The Beatles Anthology Volume 2 CD, as well as some bootlegs, includes alternate takes of the song which also confirm this.
"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

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