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The Beatles Albums- Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever Live Beatles Forever 1994

 

The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever Live in Japan (Fan Made)

 

The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever ( different version )

 

Song Lyrics

Strawberry Fields

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Entrance to Strawberry Fields

Entrance to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

No one, I think, is in my treebeatles-strawberry-fields-forever-capitol-2
I mean, it must be high or low
That is, you can’t, you know, tune in, but it’s alright
That is, I think it’s not too bad

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

Always, no, sometimes think it’s me
But you know I know when it’s a dream
I think I know I mean — er — yes, but it’s all wrong
That is, I think I disagree

Let me take you down,beatles-strawberry-9
‘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.

Song History and Facts

Strawberry Fields Forever

Working title: It’s Not Too Bad
Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: November 24, 28-29, December 8-9, 15, 21, 1966 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: November 28-29, December 9, 15, 22, 29, 1966; October 26, 1971
Length: 4:10
Takes: 26
Musicians: John Lennon: lead vocals (double-tracked), rhythm guitar (1964 Gibson J160E), mellotron (1964 Mark II), piano, bongos
Paul McCartney: bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), mellotron (1964 Mark II), timpani
George Harrison: lead guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster), surmandal (swordmandela), maracas
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), timpani, percussion
Mal Evans: tambourine
Neil Aspinall: guiro
Terry Doran: maracas
Tony Fisher: trumpet
Greg Bowen: trumpet
Derek Watkins: trumpet
Stanley Roderick: trumpet
John Hall: cello
Derek Simpson: cello
Norman Jones: cello
First released: February 13, 1967 (UK: Parlophone R5570), February 17, 1967 (US: Capitol 5810); double a-side with “Penny Lane”
Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Magical Mystery Tour (UK: Parlophone PCTC 255, US: Capitol (S)MAL 2835, Parlophone CDP 7 48062 2)
  • The Beatles 1967-1970 (UK: Apple PCSP 718, US: Apple SKBO 3404, Apple CDP 0777 7 97039 2 0)

Highest chart position: US: 8 (February 25, 1967), UK: 2 (March 2, 1967)
History:

  • This odd epic was a very personal song for John, written by him in Almeria, Spain, in the fall of 1966 while doing location filming for Richard Lester’s anti-war comedy How I Won The War, in which he had his first non-Beatle role. At this time, the song began life as a gentle folkish number which John envisioned being delivered in conversational, almost “talking blues” style.
  • Even at this early stage, the lyrics dealt with Lennon’s isolation from the world, his certainty that his mind existed on a different plane than most others. This is evident in the original lines “No one is on my wavelength, I mean, it’s either too high or too low / That is, you can’t, you know, tune in — but it’s all right. / I mean it’s not too bad.” Obscured slightly for humility’s sake and made more poetic, these lines would eventually, just before recording, become the second verse: “No one, I think, is in my tree / I mean, it must be high or low / That is, you can’t, you know, tune in — but it’s all right. / That is, I think it’s not too bad.”
  • The main image of the song came from Strawberry Field, a Salvation Army orphanage located on Beaconsfield Road in Woolton, Liverpool, England. John often played in the woods near there, and the highlight of his social calendar as a child was the annual “fete” or fair held on the grounds, which Lennon would attend with his Aunt Mimi. Given the untimely death of his mother, Julia, the site must have served as a metaphorical retreat from the horrors of the world. The use of the image also fits in with the early theme of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandalbum, which dealt with a return to childhood. (This is borne out by the original 45 sleeve of the single, which featured childhood photos of the group.)
  • The song was begun in an apartment in El Zapillo, the beach section of Almeria, then, when wife Cynthia moved the couple to a nearby house called Santa Isabel, the first home demos were recorded. In early November 1966, John returned to his “Kenwood” home in London, where he further workshopped the song on tape.
  • Recording for “Strawberry Fields Forever” began on November 24, 1966, envisioned as a gentle ballad. However, John was unsatisfied with this arrangement, and sometime between November 29 and December 6, he asked George Martin to come up with a new arrangement featuring brass and strings, to which heavy percussion was later added. Pronouncing himself dissatisfied with both versions, John asked Martin to edit the beginning of one song (Take 7) with the end of another (Take 26). The producer thought this impossible, but after experimenting with a variable-speed tape machine, he found a way to slow down take 26 (in the key of A major) enough to bring it into the correct tempo and pitch with take 7 (in C major… this was also sped up to match it, but only very slightly).
  • The result is actually two edits — one at 55 seconds into the song, where the chorus is brought in where the original third verse would have gone, and one at 59 seconds, where John’s vocal can clearly be heard morphing into the new arrangement. Despite Martin’s efforts, the second part of SFF is actually a semitone lower than the original piece.
  • The flute-sounding instrument at the beginning of the song is called a mellotron, a primitive sampler of sorts in which actual tapes of orchestral sounds (in this case, flutes) are manipulated by a keyboard. This represents the first use of the instrument by a rock band. Paul McCartney performed the mellotron intro, which Lennon wrote separately on harmonium sometime in 1964. The instrument is also used to provide “strings” in the early part of the song, and can be heard on the last fade-out, in flute setting, played backwards.
  • George Harrison can be credited with the introduction of the surmandel (swordmandela), an Indian version of the zither; Ringo’s hi-hat is also recorded backwards for extra psychedelic effect (this is heard best in the last verse). The famous fade-in after the song “ends” appears to have been George Martin’s creation; it is the first “double fade” in pop, and very possibly recording, history. The clanging sound heard during the final fade-in is produced by two trumpets and John’s guitar, playing in unison. About.Com

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Lennon wrote the song in Almerí­a, Spain in autumn 1966, while filming his role as Private Gripweed in the Richard Lester movie How I Won The War.

“Dick Lester offered me the part in this movie, which gave me time to think without going home. We were in Almerí­a, and it took me six weeks to write the song. I was writing it all the time I was making the film. And as anybody knows about film work, there’s a lot of hanging around.”
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Like Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever was a nostalgic look back at The Beatles’ past in Liverpool. Strawberry Field was the name of a Salvation Army children’s home near John Lennon’s childhood home in Woolton.

“I’ve seen Strawberry Field described as a dull, grimy place next door to him that John imagined to be a beautiful place, but in the summer it wasn’t dull and grimy at all: it was a secret garden. John’s memory of it wasn’t to do with the fact that it was a Salvation Army home; that was up at the house. There was a wall you could bunk over and it was a rather wild garden, it wasn’t manicured at all, so it was easy to hide in.”
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

“With his childhood friends Pete Shotton and Ivan Vaughan, Lennon would roam the grounds of Strawberry Field. Additionally, each summer there would be a garden party held in the grounds, which he especially looked forward to. As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late.”

Mimi Smith
The Beatles, Hunter Davies

Through the lens of LSD, however, the song song turned from simple nostalgia into inward reflection. Lennon’s self doubt came to the fore, at times clouded by inarticulacy and hallucinogenic sensations.

He later described Strawberry Fields Forever, along with Help!, as “one of the few true songs I ever wrote… They were the ones I really wrote from experience and not projecting myself into a situation and writing a nice story about it.”

“The second line [sic] goes, ‘No one I think is in my tree.’ Well, what I was trying to say in that line is ‘Nobody seems to be as hip as me, therefore I must be crazy or a genius.’ It’s the same problem as I had when I was five: ‘There is something wrong with me because I seem to see things other people don’t see. Am I crazy, or am I a genius?’ … What I’m saying, in my insecure way, is ‘Nobody seems to understand where I’m coming from. I seem to see things in a different way from most people.’
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

beatlesbible.com

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Here is an explanation on how another blogger interprets the song. Understand that Lennon spent considerable time with friends as a young boy and teenager hanging out in the gardens of Strawberry Fields. They would have to hide from the grounds keeper. He would often climb trees in the garden.  Randolph Review

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The meaning of Strawberry Fields Forever

 

Gazing through the logs of the few unfortunate people who actually go here, I realized that many of them get here via odd google searches, most commonly: “What is the meaning of Strawberry Fields Forever”, and alternately “Video Strawberry Fields Forever”. I’d get sued very quickly for posting the latter, though you can mostly get it on the Beatles Anthology DVD/VHS/Laserdisc set (and yes, they should release the Beatles’ videos properly!). I can take a stab at answering the former, and indeed, it sort of follows the lines of thought from my prior post about Figure of Eight.

First of all, John Lennon took great amusement at people trying to derive meaning to his lyrics, and reportedly partially wrote I Am The Walrus in reaction to people trying to academically decipher his meanings by writing a song that he felt was incomprehensible simply to confound people from doing what I will attempt right now. (yes, I do find meaning even in I Am The Walrus, but that’s for another post)

In its simplest terms, Strawberry Fields is a reference to the small garden John played at when he was a little kid in Liverpool. We know that much for sure. So one could easily see the song as advocating an escape into a childlike existence. (indeed, that’s probably not far from the mark) However, the lyrics (to me) imply something a bit darker. If you follow the progression of the verses, each one becomes more and more confused, and each one expresses confusion and a desire to just give up trying to make sense of things and a desire to drop out of the whole mess.

“Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone, but it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me”

The first verse really lays out the whole theme of the song. Things are confusing, and it’s easier to go through life simply not caring about anything.

“No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low.
That is you can’t you know tune in but it’s all right,
that is I think it’s not too bad.”

Actually, this was the first verse that John wrote for the song, but it in many ways continues the theme of frustration at the world, though clearly the protagonist is even more apathetic about his state. In addition compared to the simple declarative statements of the first verse, this one has much more awkward and confused language. Even if the lyric sheets don’t show it, the second line has pauses nearly every 2 words which should read more like “That is you can’t, you know, tune in, but it’s all right”

“Always, no sometimes, think it’s me, but you know I know when it’s a dream.
I think ehh no, I mean ehh ‘yes’, but it’s all wrong, that is I think I disagree.”

The last verse is even more confused, and ambivalent than the others. The pauses have increased, and the clearest statement he has is that he’s pretty sure he understands what is real and what isn’t. However, the next line seems to contradict even that statement. In the end he simply says he THINKS he disagrees. With what? Well, we can’t be sure. Indeed, part of the beauty of this song is it’s abstract enough to apply to a lot of situations.

(note: there are disputes as to the actual lyrics to the 2nd line of the 3rd verse. Above is my interpretation…)

And finally the chorus is pretty direct:

“Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to
Strawberry Fields, nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields Forever”

In comparison to the verses, this is a pretty forceful statement. The protagonist is going to reach towards a place of safety, where none of the concerns and confusions apply. In 1967 when it was released, I’m sure most saw that as an advocacy to “drop out” and consume “chemicals” to help escape reality. Whether or not John Lennon intended that meaning is harder to tell. He doesn’t really use any code words for drugs (except possibly with the phrase “tune in”), and instead he references his childhood playground. To me this song is just about a person who wants to escape reality to a safe, easy life that doesn’t really exist where he doesn’t have to care about anything anymore.

Yes, this seems to be a pretty bleak song to be a hit single (though it didn’t hit #1 in the UK thanks to Penny Lane counting as a double-A side, and thus halving the sales totals for both). The Beatles are known for being cheerful, but this song is anything but. Then again, people get married and have the bands play Every Breath You Take by the Police at their receptions, so I shouldn’t take too much surprise at misconceptions about a song. Yes, I love this song. It’s beautiful, and frankly I wouldn’t have named this blog after it if I didn’t really have an affinity to it. A desire to escape reality isn’t necessarily bad, as long as one doesn’t take it to the logical extreme.

Of course, this is my opinion, and even moreso than my ill-informed rants on politics, this is entirely up the interpretation of the reader/listener.

So what does this have to do with Figure of Eight? Strawberry Fields Forever suggests that maybe it’s easier to not care about things, and Figure of Eight asks if it’s better to care or not to. Even though Figure of Eight came out 22 years after Strawberry Fields Forever, it seems to ask a question that was answered by Strawberry Fields Forever. (even if the answer is not the correct one, or the intended one. Indeed, I’ll leave that for the philosophers)

Note: I’m NOT advocating people to become rampant nihilists and quit caring about anyone nor anything.

I am simply wondering.

 

posted by Jim Casaburi

 

i-am-walrus.blogspot.com

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“Strawberry Fields Forever” Guitar chords and Tabs (1)

  Guitar chords and Tabs (2)

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