The revolutionary Psychedelic release is perhaps the greatest single of all time
The Beatles”Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane” was first released on this day in 1967
Perhaps the greatest single of all time, the double-A side “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane” by The Beatles was first released in the U.s on February 13, 1967, on Capitol Records. It wasn’t until February 17 that the single was widely released, including in the UK under the Parlophone label. The two songs featured on the single were initially thought to be included on their upcoming album “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and “Strawberry Fields Forever” was actually the first track recorded during the sessions in November 1966. However, with pressure from their record company and management for new product, the group were forced to issue the single, and then adhered to their philosophy of omitting previously released singles tracks from their albums, much to the later regret of both the band and producer George Martin, who stated several times that both songs should have been featured on the album. Both songs represented a departure from the Beatles’ previous singles and a novel listening experience for the contemporary pop audience. While featuring and composed differently under different recording and production techniques, both represent the pinnacle of The Beatles Psychedelic period. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is primarily a John Lennon composition and “Penny Lane” a Paul McCartney one, but both are attributed to Lennon/McCartney. The surrealism present on the lyrics of both songs, especially on “Strawberry Fields Forever” which was far more experimental, embodies the band’s philosophy at the time, drastically departing from all their previous Rock N’ Roll and Folk influences. The double A-side peaked at number 2 on the Record Retailer chart, behind Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me”, breaking the band’s four-year run of chart-topping singles in the UK. In the United States, “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. To the Beatles’ displeasure, the song was later included on the US “Magical Mystery Tour” LP. Originally released as an EP, “Magical Mystery Tour” was released in the U.S as an album, due to American audiences preferring albums rather than singles, the B side of the record features The Beatles 1967 loose singles, including also “Penny Lane”. This single also represents the beginning of music videos (back then called films) being used to promote the songs on TV. By then, The Beatles had stopped touring and seldom made appearances on TV, instead of performing the songs, they sent two promotional films that were first premiered on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops and in the U.S on The Ed Sullivan Show; the videos featured experimental techniques such as reverse effects, stop motion animation, jump-cuts, and superimposition. Two curious side notes: the 1967 Portuguese release was converted into an EP, and featured 4 tracks, including the two main ones plus “Love You To” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”, both taken from “Revolver” and previously unreleased through that format, making that specific release the most Psychedelic Beatles EP ever. Another side note is about the “Paul is Dead” hoax – in which Paul McCartney was said to have died in late 1966 and been replaced in the Beatles by a lookalike – the final words on “Strawberry Fields Forever” were taken to be Lennon intoning, “I buried Paul.” However, according to Lennon, he was saying the words “cranberry sauce”. But was he?
Watch the original promotional film for “Penny Lane” by The Beatles
Watch a snippet (full film unavailable) of the original promotional film for “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles
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