I’ve covered the song “Yesterday” by The Beatles, and said it came at a point where the band transitioned from being some noisy rockers to spaced out hippies. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is one of their finest efforts, and is undisputedly from the “hippy” era of The Beatles.
However, although it contains a more than a few lines which could be interpreted as drug references (“nothing is real”), it’s a song about a real place from John Lennon’s childhood, the garden of a nearby Salvation Army children’s home.
The song was the first one recorded for inclusion on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band in 1967, but they had to release it early as a single to appease the record label. Due to their commitment to not including previously released singles on new albums, this meant that it didn’t appear on that album.
It’s a shame because it would’ve fitted perfectly on there and made the album even better!
In the end it was released against the Beatles’ wishes on an American soundtrack to a film they were making, Magical Mystery Tour.
Regardless of all that, it was considered by John Lennon to be his best song with The Beatles, and it is in my top five Beatles songs, easily.
The tune has a lot of the psychedelic, mystical feel typical of The Beatles at that time, but the nostalgia and emotion of Lennon as he lays bare an important part of his life cuts through easily and makes the song double edged; it’s a colourful, dazed acid inspired surrealist piece, but also a heartfelt song about a man trying to figure out his place in the world.
I could tell you that there’s dreamy flutes, stormy brass, mournful strings, lackadaisical guitar licks, catchy vocals, and all that, but it doesn’t capture the greatness of the song. There’s a trippy majesty to the proceedings that remains unmatched to this day.
Wacky, but glorious.