The Beatles are the most successful band in the history of music with an estimated amount of more than 600 million records sold worldwide. Although John, Paul, George and Ringo are often recalled as a unit, Paul McCartney and John Lennon formed the most famous and successful songwriting partnership of all time, because most of their hits are credited to them.
However, many of those songs were not equally written by both, even though it was later credited to the two. “Strawberry Fields Forever”, which was first released as a single in 1967 was almost completely written by Lennon. McCartney helped to give the song some final touches later on. But what was the meaning of “Strawberry Fields Forever” according to John Lennon?
The meaning of the famous Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever” according to John Lennon
In 1968, one year after the track was released, John Lennon talked with Rolling Stone magazine about many of his compositions. One of them was of course “Strawberry Fields Forever” and he revealed he wrote the lyrics in Spain when he was acting in the comedy movie “How I Won The War“. “In Spain, filming ‘How I Won the War’. I was going through a big scene about song writing again you know. I seem to go through it now and then, and it took me a long time to write it. See, I was writing all bits and bits. I wanted the lyrics to be like conversation. It didn’t work, that one verse was sort of ludicrous really,” John Lennon said.
During the interview he said that not always his compositions had logical meanings and sometimes it only were the words that came to his mind at the time. He also said that later on he would find out that there were many levels to the lyrics, since people would come up with many different meanings to the songs. But “Strawberry Fields Forever” in particular came up when he was trying to write something about Liverpool, the band’s hometown.
“It’s a name, it’s a nice name. When I was writing ‘In My Life” – I was trying “Penny Lane’ at that time. We were trying to write about Liverpool, and I just listed all the nice sounding names just arbitrarily. Strawberry Fields was a place near us that happened to be a Salvation Army home. But Strawberry Fields.”
“I mean I have visions of Strawberry Fields. And there was Penny Lane, the Cast Iron Shore which I’ve just got in some song now. They were just good names, just groovy names. Just good sounding. Because Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go. Actually I’ve just written a song which goes ‘I told you about Strawberry Fields/And you heard about the Walrus and me/Told you about the Fool on the Hill…,’ it’s amazing”, John Lennon said.
The track was the first one the band recorded after they finished their praised 1966 album “Revolver”. Originally intended to be part of their following album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967), the track had to be released before due to the record company’s pressure.
Who played which instrument in The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields”
Since they were really versatile musicians, The Beatles‘ members did not always played their primary instruments in the songs. In “Strawberry Fields Forever”, for example, besides singing John Lennon also played rhythm guitar, bongos and mellotron.
Paul McCartney also played the mellotron besides playing lead guitar (at the end), bass and piano. George Harrison was responsible for many lead guitar parts, slide guitar, swarmandal, timpani and maracas. Ringo stuck to his area playing the drums and percussion.
Besides them there were many other studio musicians involved, including the band’s famous producer George Martin who played cello and trumpet.