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Strawberry Fields Forever: I have some interesting thoughts
26 November 2011
12.42pm
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Ok, so I read somewhere that John later accused Paul of sabotaging Strawberry Fields Forever. I read somewhere else that Strawberry Fields Forever is about John Lennon's childhood. So I think John told him that and Paul knows about John's childhood. So, Paul thought it should be dark and mysterious. But, John's early takes are bright and happy. I think Paul made the song sound like John's actual childhood, but John meant for it to sound like where he went in his childhood. Strawberry Fields is used to represent John Lennon's mind. When he's in a bad place, he goes to his mind, or, Strawberry Fields, where nothing is real because it's in his head.

 

Really think about that for a second.

"Time wounds all heels." -John Lennon
26 November 2011
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Perhaps, but… Your starting point is that the song tells about John's childhood. I'm not so sure of that. Yes, there was a place called "Strawberry Field", but If I remember correctly it was used by nuns as a sort of sanctuary…. Or something similar. Other than that mention, it's very hard to imagine what parts of the song could be about anyone's childhood, it's so absurd. Then again, maybe John wanted to see his childhood like that. I don't know. John did say that song was somewhat "honest", at least in the Rolling Stone article, but I took it as to represent his mental state at the time rather than childhood memories.

26 November 2011
2.56pm
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The Strawberry said:

So, Paul thought it should be dark and mysterious. But, John's early takes are bright and happy. 

 

a-hard-days-night-ringo-8 IMO, not one of the early takes sound bright and happy. They all sound a bit sad and melancholic to me. It's hard to tell if it's only about John's childhood. I think it's a mixture of positive memories, his state of mind at the time written (and I wouldn't underestimate the drug intake) and the wish to go to a place into his mind when the outside world becomes too stressful. Similar thoughts can be found in "There's A Place" several years earlier.

26 November 2011
5.51pm
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By dark I mean, the "nothing is real" part is kind of dark, the drums are powerful, unlike the Anthology take.

"Time wounds all heels." -John Lennon
26 November 2011
7.16pm
meanmistermustard
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It comes down to when John accused Paul. John often changed his mind about many things usually leading to looking like he was contradicting himself. 

 

Im pretty sure that John was behind the song having the orchestral work and he certainly asked George Martin to make both versions come together to make 1 distinct entity.

When Strawberry Fields was written John was in Spain filming How I Won The War feeling alone and isolated, Ringo went to cheer him up. So his mindset would have been low at that time. The phrase "take you down" was originally 'take you back' so it had that going back theme and Strawberry Field was where he played as a child, so there is a definate link with going back to his when he was a child. And nothing is real could be the imagination that children have when playing cowboys and indians or pirates. But then the drugs kick in.  Tho that is all speculation and could be complete nonsense.

Some of the lyrics are not about his childhood but some relate to it. "No one i think is in my tree" was John referring to even when he was younger he believed he was different from all the other kids. 

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
26 November 2011
7.24pm
GniknuS
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A couple thoughts, first where did you read that John accused Paul of sabotaging the song? I know he said later to George Martin that he would like to remix the song and make it less psychadelic, but I've never read or heard anything about Paul's role on the song. How would he have sabotaged it? It seems like it was pretty much a completed song lyrically when John was filming How I Won the War…

Certainly the song is meant to be dark and mysterious and meant to represent John's mind, just take a look at a few of the quotes from John on this /songs/strawberry-fields-forever/

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
26 November 2011
7.43pm
meanmistermustard
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Found a transcript of Johns Playboy in 1980 where John talks about subconscious sabotage.

 

LENNON: The Beatles didn't make a good record of "Across The Universe." I think subconsciously we -- I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like "Strawberry Fields," which I always felt was badly recorded. It worked, but it wasn't what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul's songs, but when it came to mine -- especially a great song like "Strawberry Fields" or "Across The Universe" -- somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up.

PLAYBOY:Sabotage?

LENNON: Subconscious sabotage. I was too hurt. . . . Paul will deny it, because he has a bland face and will say this doesn't exist. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about where I was always seeing what was going on and began to think, Well, maybe I'm paranoid. But it is not paranoid. It is the absolute truth. The same thing happened to "Across The Universe." The song
was never done properly. The words stand, luckily.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
26 November 2011
7.56pm
GniknuS
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Hmmm, thanks for that mmm…he is right that there is more of a feel of experimentation in the final products of John's songs as opposed to Paul's, but like John said he allowed it, whereas Paul pushed for the little details and ending up annoying the other members (Maxwell's Silver Hammer). But who would want a cleaned up John Lennon song? Certainly not me. So if anything Paul did a service to John's songs.

Across The Universe is a much more interesting topic than Strawberry Fields because clearly that song could have been done better, but I always wonder if I would like a cleaned up version better. The '68 Anthology version is a pretty magical recording and the song just didn't really fit on Let it Be. But certainly Paul and the others could have shown more of an interest, although John showed little to no interest on the album to begin with so what could he really have expected?

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
26 November 2011
8.20pm
meanmistermustard
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Certainly in the later years Paul generally had the finished song in his head, however it may have taken 76 takes to get it and driven everyone barmy in the process to get it on record. John was generally more open to ideas for his songs from the other, whether he really wanted to take them on board was another matter entirely. He is on record as saying that Tomorrow Never Knows didnt sound like what he had in his head, that of monks chanting on a hill. George generally had to spur the others to be bothered enough to take his songs seriously.

The problem with Across The Universe is that its such a beautiful other world song how do you record it as the song deserves and requires? Certainly in 1968. I dont recall John saying he found a way of mastering it when helping Bowie out in 1974.

 

And if any song was treated terribly by non-composer Beatles it was George's All Things Must Pass during the Get Back sessions in 1969. John himself couldnt gather up enough enthusiasm for Across The Universe during that time so its no surprise the other 3 couldnt either.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
26 November 2011
8.47pm
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Strawberry Fields started out originally as a simplistic arranged song with harmonies.  I'm glad John Decided to start over from scratch to remake and create a masterpiece version.  Years later John said he wished every Beatles song  was remade which upset George Martin.  If Jack Douglas is to be believed, John was experimenting with new arrangements off SFF for his planned 1981 tour.  It's a great paradoxical John song but he was never specific in the way Paul was in conveying to George Martin or maybe even the band exactly what he wanted the way Paul did.heart

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26 November 2011
10.53pm
meanmistermustard
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Was it not George Martin who wished the original dreamy version of SFF was used or was that another song?

 

I think John recorded a demo of Help! at a slower tempo in the 70's as he disliked how the beatles had sped it up to be more 'commercial' in 1965. He certainly expressed his desire to re-record it.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
26 November 2011
11.51pm
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I love the demo of SSF, it's less psychedelic but more otherworldly and yet realer at the same time. Despite the fact that the final version's a recording masterpiece, I almost prefer the earlier one. But it's a close choice.

"Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up toward the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that." "What happens to them?" insisted Milo. "Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else," said Alec thoughtfully, "and I’ve heard that they walk among the stars." –The Phantom Tollbooth
27 November 2011
2.33am
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Any of the takes of Strawberry Fields as well as the demo on Anthology could have been released and it would still have been a fantastic, acclaimed song. However with the changing of tempo, mood and everything else i still find that the released version is the winner. There is so much going on that you cannot get bored with it. Just when you think you've heard all of whats in there something else hits your ears and makes you appreciate it even more.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
28 November 2011
6.09am
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Well, it was just a thought. You see, I always think about these things. But I hate the Let It Be version of Across The Universe. I prefer the Anthology/Rarities and Let It Be… Naked versions.

"Time wounds all heels." -John Lennon
30 November 2011
10.17am
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With Strawberry Fields, maybe they could have made the vocals a touch more prominent, and sorted out the ending a bit. I agree with MMM about the tempo change, musically it's fantastic as a quick listen to the song in a foreign language should verify.

As for Across The Universe, I like the Let It Be arrangement (it's much better than the WWF one). The pacing isn't right on the Anthology version, but John's vocal is bare, which is probably how it should be. Let It Be with a barer vocal would be excellent IMO.

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30 November 2011
10.13pm
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meanmistermustard said:

Found a transcript of Johns Playboy in 1980 where John talks about subconscious sabotage.

 

LENNON: The Beatles didn't make a good record of "Across The Universe." I think subconsciously we -- I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like "Strawberry Fields," which I always felt was badly recorded. It worked, but it wasn't what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul's songs, but when it came to mine -- especially a great song like "Strawberry Fields" or "Across The Universe" -- somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up.

PLAYBOY:Sabotage?

LENNON: Subconscious sabotage. I was too hurt. . . . Paul will deny it, because he has a bland face and will say this doesn't exist. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about where I was always seeing what was going on and began to think, Well, maybe I'm paranoid. But it is not paranoid. It is the absolute truth. The same thing happened to "Across The Universe." The song
was never done properly. The words stand, luckily.

Didn't George make a similar comment about Paul doing this?a-hard-days-night-ringo-8

30 November 2011
10.50pm
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meanmistermustard said:

Found a transcript of Johns Playboy in 1980 where John talks about subconscious sabotage.

 

LENNON: The Beatles didn't make a good record of "Across The Universe." I think subconsciously we -- I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like "Strawberry Fields," which I always felt was badly recorded. It worked, but it wasn't what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul's songs, but when it came to mine -- especially a great song like "Strawberry Fields" or "Across The Universe" -- somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up.

PLAYBOY:Sabotage?

LENNON: Subconscious sabotage. I was too hurt. . . . Paul will deny it, because he has a bland face and will say this doesn't exist. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about where I was always seeing what was going on and began to think, Well, maybe I'm paranoid. But it is not paranoid. It is the absolute truth. The same thing happened to "Across The Universe." The song
was never done properly. The words stand, luckily.

Actually Phill Spector was the one who ruined Across The Universe

Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble.
1 December 2011
4.33am
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I'm surprised by how many people "hate" this version or that version of a song…

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1 December 2011
10.46am
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The Beatles never recorded a great version of Across The Universe, hence it being held back until it was given to a charity album in 1969, with added bird noises and sped up by George Martin. Plus it was rehearsed during the Get Back sessions, not that they took it too seriously.

At least Spector had the sense to take off the awful female vocals that were originally on it.

 

Was it George who felt aggrieved that he felt he had to work on like 10 of Pauls songs before even one of his could be recorded, and even then he had to rouse interest, or was that John. Maybe it was both.

In the 80's Paul expressed an interest in writing with George to which George replied that it was strange that he had been around for 20/30 years and Paul had shown no interest before. One of Pauls problems was that whenever he stated his intentions for some beatle related work it was when he was promoting an album, and that increased Georges scepticism.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
1 December 2011
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Personally, I like all versions of Across The Universe. Even cover ones. Its almost impossible to ruin it

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