Strawberry Fields Forever came about as John was filming How I Won The War. The name derives from a Salvation Army orphanage near his childhood home called Strawberry Field. The architechtural structure of the building made John feel as though he was in his own world and different from his peers (and, therefore, misundersood by the world). The song was recorded during the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sessions and released with Penny Lane as a single.
The released version of Strawberry Fields Forever is a combination of 2 takes; take 7 (the first minute) and take 26 (which was sped up and enriched with orchestral overdubs)
The German mix
The song was mixed in mono on December 22, 1966, and stereo on December 29, 1966. The stereo mix was used for the single as well as the US LP Magical Mystery Tour, and in 1973 was used on 1967-1970. This mix better masks the edit between the two takes used in the song by moving the cello and trumpet from left to right compared to the the 1971 mix. That 1971 stereo mix was newly created for the German edition of Magical Mystery Tour, titled Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs. This mix featured clearer percussion and improved stereo separation than the original stereo mix. It has since been used on all CD reissues, including the 1987 and 2009 editions of Magical Mystery Tour and the 1993 and 2010 editions of 1967-1970.
"Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs in a nice semidetached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around - - not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. In the class system, it was about half a class higher than Paul, George and Ringo, who lived in government-subsidized housing. We owned our house and had a garden. They didn't have anything like that. Near that home was Strawberry Fields, a house near a boys' reformatory where I used to go to garden parties as a kid with my friends Nigel and Pete. We would go there and hang out and sell lemonade bottles for a penny. We always had fun at Strawberry Fields. So that's where I got the name. But I used it as an image. Strawberry Fields forever. [Singing] "(Living is easy) With eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see." It still goes, doesn't it? Aren't I saying exactly the same thing now? The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is -- let's say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, "No one I think is in my tree." Well, I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius -- "I mean it must be high or low," the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn't see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn't see. As a child, I would say, "But this is going on!" and everybody would look at me as if I was crazy. I always was so psychic or intuitive or poetic or whatever you want to call it, that I was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way. It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to. Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did. It was very, very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent van Gogh -- all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness." - John Lennon, Playboy, 1980
"The reason that Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane didn't appear on the album [Sgt. Peppers] is that Brian Epstein, their manager, was worried. He said to me, 'The boys need a lift - they need a great sequel and what have you got.' Well, I said, 'We've got two wonderful songs - let's issue them both.' In those days we didn't include single releases in albums as we thought we were conning the public. One of the biggest errors I ever made." - George Martin on why the song was not included on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever (single) (1967)
- Magical Mystery Tour (LP) (1967)
- 1967-1970 (1973)
- The Beatles Box (1980)
- Anthology 2 (1996) [demo sequence; take 1; take 7 & edit piece]
- Love (2006) [LOVE mix]
- Anthology Highlights (2011) [take 1]
- Todd Rundgren (from Faithful)