Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: February 17, 1967
Appears on: Magical Mystery Tour
Lead vocal: John
There's something about "Strawberry Fields Forever" that is hard to pin down, even 43 years after its' release. The song is specifically about John's childhood, almost as if it is a more detailed version of "In My Life". I really believe that it's probably the best song he ever wrote in his life and easily a top-5 Beatles track.
The lyrics touch on just how difficult it is to be a child in a confusing world and is filled with fantastic lines. That last verse probably sums up John's life, filled with hypocrisy and confusion, more than anything else he ever wrote:
Always know, sometimes think its me
But you know, I know when it's a dream
I think a 'no', I say 'yes,'
But it's all wrong
That is, I think I disagree
Then there's the extreme psychedelic haze that these lyrics sit in. The track starts with Paul's mellotron notes, before John's subdued vocal comes in - Let me take you down, 'cause I'm goin' to...Strawberry Fields. John plays lead guitar, piano and maracas on the track while Paul adds bass to his mellotron parts. George plays a slide guitar and svarmandal, a unique Indian instrument that adds such a strange 'string' sound. Ringo's drumming reaches a high point, especially during the added coda section. It's a great little sequence, almost as if it was tacked on specifically to highlight Ringo. George Martin also arranged trumpet and cello sections, a pair of instruments that usually don't go together alone, adding another unique layer to the song.
Probably the coolest part of the Anthology releases is the "Strawberry Fields Forever" sequence that opens up disc two of Anthology 2. It takes the song from demo stage to the first take and finally to the seventh take. For LOVE, George and Giles Martin created a unique mix by mixing all takes of the song into one, so by the time you get to the end, it is the fully realized master that we know and love. Here is the full wacky promo film.
The song's only LP appearances include the US Magical Mystery Tour and as the opening track to 1967-1970.
"Strawberry Fields Forever" is easily one of the most important and impacting Beatles songs. You will always hear it on the radio and it is very hard to hold back tears whenever I hear it. I listen to it often to remind myself to calm down whenever I'm stressed. It's a nice escape from reality, but I tend to take it as a reminder that Nothing is real...
Let me take you down,
'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real,
and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever. Strawberry Fields forever,
Strawberry Fields forever, Strawberry Fields forever.
Next up: We start...the 'big' one.