Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

"Strawberry Fields Forever" was recorded in 1966 on November 24, 28, 29 and December 8, 9, 15, and 21. It was released on February 17, 1967 as the B side to "Penny Lane." Lennon wrote the song in Almeria, Spain while filming How I Won the War in 1966 for Richard Lester. Strawberry Fields was a Salvation Army home in the neighborhood where Lennon grew up.

The song can be heard in all of its recording phases on The Beatles Anthology CD collection. The song was originally presented to George Martin as a soft ballad played on accoustic guitar. Bass, drums, and a slide guitar were added, taking the song in a different direction.

A few days later, the song was re-recorded after Martin added trumpets and cellos, with McCartney playing the synthesizer-like mellotron, which opens the song in the released version. Lennon liked the beginning of the first version but the end of the second version, but the two vesrions had been recorded at different speeds. Martin therefore speeded up the second version and slowed down the first (altering the quality of Lennon's voice) and combined the two.

Although some people claimed to hear the words "Paul is dead" at the end of the song, Lennon was actually saying "cranberry sauce." An extended version of the song, in which Ringo plays drums for several minutes at the end of the track, can be heard on the Anthology CD. The Beatles also recorded a psychedelic promo video (considered by some to be the first music video)for the song, a video in which they move around a piano tethered to a tree by hundreds of thin wires.

Lennon does the vocal and plays accoustic guitar; McCartney plays bass, piano, bongos, and flute; Harrison plays lead guitar and tympani; Starr plays drums; Mal Evans plays tambourine. Some sources say McCartney plays tympani rather than Harrison. Session musicians were brought in for cello and trumpet parts.

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