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Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever Double A-side
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7 August 2015
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Zig
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In another thread... 

castironshore said
"Penny Lane" is in no way inferior to "strawberry fields" either. They are just 2 sides of the same coin.

Were they? In my view, they had exactly three things in common:

  1. They were Beatles songs
  2. They were two sides of the same single
  3. They were songs of reminiscence 

To me, they were polar opposites on a sonic basis. PL was light and poppy, SFF was slow and dreamy. It would be difficult to say one was superior to the other because they were so vastly different. Personally, I prefer SFF, but I would be foolish to say it was superior. When I'm in the mood for light and poppy, PL is a fantastic singalong. 

What are your thoughts about this double A-side? Did the songs have anything else in common? Which was your favorite?

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7 August 2015
12.44pm
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I prefer SFF, but Penny Lane is still very good. 

I hope I'm not coming across as hating Paul McCartney, I'm just trying to explain why so many people see John as superior. 

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7 August 2015
1.05pm
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Sheepdog said
I hope I'm not coming across as hating Paul McCartney, I'm just trying to explain why so many people see John as superior. 

This thread is not meant for that discussion. That's why I moved my thought on these two songs here. Please feel free to discuss the differences/similarities or any other aspects of these two songs in this thread. 

Thanks!apple01

Back on topic: While out for a walk with Zog earlier, I thought of another similarity. Both Paul and John relied heavily, and successfully, on imagery when writing them. 

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7 August 2015
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Strawberry Fields is immense, Penny Lane is at best a meh.

As posted here

Said before and will say many times over, I dont get the attraction of 'Penny Lane' and never have since i first heard it on the long play 'Blue Album' compilation pre-1993. Folk wax lyrical about the imagery created, the chords, how its the equal of 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and yet still my senses remain untickled and unaroused by it. Its appeal has never appealed to me to the point of it rarely gets a "meh". There isn't even anything that hooks me in like the daft vocals by George and John on 'Ob-la-Di/Da' or Ringo's drumming throughout 'Blue Jay Way'. It's not awful just 

giphy.gif?w=200

 

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7 August 2015
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meanmistermustard said
Strawberry Fields is immense, Penny Lane is at best a meh.

Image Enlarger

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7 August 2015
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As much as I love John's songs, I usually prefer Paul's, including this double A side single.  I guess I find it more uplifting.  

Nice picture sleeve that came with the UK single too. 

http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/kk38/rickdelsie/The%20Beatles/solic%20centre_zpshoengxr2.jpgImage Enlarger

http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/kk38/rickdelsie/The%20Beatles/parlunread_zps28270d9d.gif BEATLES Music gives me Eargasms!  apple01

7 August 2015
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I always liked/preferred Penny Lane. *dodges apples thrown by SFF fans* 

I suppose it makes more sense to me, as I never fully understood the lyrics to SFF till recently. And sound-wise, I like Penny Lane for its joyousness. And great imagery. Though as Zig pointed out, they both have great imagery. 

Plus, Penny Lane is less of a mouthful than Strawberry Fields Forevera-hard-days-night-ringo-10

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7 August 2015
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I got a college scarf on the basis of that picture sleeve........talk about how subtly influenced or susceptible, suggestible what whatever it is we were to anything they did back then. When I actually went to college I didn't bother with one.

Couple of memories.....They played both sides on Juke Box Jury........It was my first hearing and I'd stayed in just so as not to miss it.

The 'Jury's' reaction to Penny Lane was positive...Another winner! Strawberry Fields, (they only played a minute or so of both songs)......For that I recall quiet bemusement and raised eyebrows. Me too it just sounded  so NOT a pop song.......Was it even a song? We were all doubtful this was a winning direction.......We had no idea that there was a certain Sgt striding purposefully our way..... with pepper in his steps. 

I bought the single and slowly but surely played the B side grooves to a death by needle. No need to play Penny Lane it was everywhere in your ears.

Strawberry Fields changed everything.

I love both songs.......So Paul......So John.......So bloody great! 

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8 August 2015
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meanmistermustard said
Strawberry Fields is immense, Penny Lane is at best a meh.

 

 

 

Well if you say so, then it has to be true, right...?

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Can't say I agree, though. I love Penny Lane at least as much as Strawberry Fields Forever. Not that the two can really be compared...

 

p.s. Does anyone know where that gif is from?

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8 August 2015
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Yes, the subjective relativity of taste is fascinating; particularly when it produces people who aren't bowled over by Penny Lane...

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8 August 2015
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JPM-Fangirl said

meanmistermustard said
Strawberry Fields is immense, Penny Lane is at best a meh.

 

 

 

Well if you say so, then it has to be true, right...?

Of course.

Image Enlarger

Can't say I agree, though. I love Penny Lane at least as much as Strawberry Fields Forever. Not that the two can really be compared...

 

p.s. Does anyone know where that gif is from?

It looks like it's from 'The Beatles: The First US Visit'.

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8 August 2015
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I like them both. As the OP says, it all depends what mood you're in. Two good songs that would have fitted in well on Sgt.Pepper.

8 August 2015
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I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm actually glad that PL/SFF didn't get put on Sgt. Pepper. I just don't see where/how they would fit. 

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8 August 2015
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Sheepdog said
I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm actually glad that PL/SFF didn't get put on Sgt. Pepper. I just don't see where/how they would fit. 

I agree. They're brilliant as they are, the single to precede Pepper. 

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9 August 2015
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I disagree.  Substitute those for Getting Better and Good Morning Good Morning. Those two songs would have been a spectacular addition to the album and would have elevated it into a position of undisputed champion of all Beatle albums!  (Ha, as if anything could be undisputed here). a-hard-days-night-john-5

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9 August 2015
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Silly Girl said

Sheepdog said
I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm actually glad that PL/SFF didn't get put on Sgt. Pepper. I just don't see where/how they would fit. 

I agree. They're brilliant as they are, the single to precede Pepper. 

One of the original "concepts" for Pepper, other than The Beatles becoming a fictitious band, was a nod to the past and a look toward the future. Had they stuck to that, you would not be able to imagine the album without these two songs as they would have fit in perfectly. While I love the album as it turned out, I echo George Martin's sentiment that rushing this single out to market instead of leaving the songs on the album was "a dreadful mistake". george-martin

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9 August 2015
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I dont see it as a dreadful mistake. 'Pepper' would have been a vastly different album as the childhood nod to the past theme would have been extended and we wouldn't have ended up with what we have or the songs included. It wouldnt have been a simple case of two songs dropped in favour of these two. We ended up with an iconic album and an iconic double a-side single, which more could we want.

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15 August 2015
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First of all, I'd call this the very best 45 The Beatles ever released -- and that's saying something, considering their other singles.

As for my personal preference, I'd go with "Strawberry Fields Forever" -- it's a great song to begin with, and the fact they could splice together two entirely different recordings (different keys, different tempos) and make it seamless is just amazing.  And Ringo's drumming at the end is fantastic.

But "Penny Lane" is also an amazing song and a brilliant recording, and I think shows Paul at his best -- his sunny, bouncy optimism is the perfect counterbalance to John's ominous dreaming.  It's sort of the same thing you find squeezed together in "A Day In The Life", only here it's in two separate songs.

Lennon & McCartney truly were the perfect match.

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IMDeWalrus said
First of all, I'd call this the very best 45 The Beatles ever released -- and that's saying something, considering their other singles.

As for my personal preference, I'd go with "Strawberry Fields Forever" -- it's a great song to begin with, and the fact they could splice together two entirely different recordings (different keys, different tempos) and make it seamless is just amazing.  And Ringo's drumming at the end is fantastic.

But "Penny Lane" is also an amazing song and a brilliant recording, and I think shows Paul at his best -- his sunny, bouncy optimism is the perfect counterbalance to John's ominous dreaming.  It's sort of the same thing you find squeezed together in "A Day In The Life", only here it's in two separate songs.

Lennon & McCartney truly were the perfect match.

I'd like to thank this post 3 times.......No 1......Best 45 released......2 Counterbalance of sunny optimism and ominous brooding.......3 ........The insightful comparison you make with ADITL....... I'd never thought of that before.

If instead George Martin had inserted PL into the splice between tempos in SFF.......What an album song that would have made! 

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15 August 2015
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meanmistermustard said
I dont see it as a dreadful mistake. 'Pepper' would have been a vastly different album as the childhood nod to the past theme would have been extended and we wouldn't have ended up with what we have or the songs included. It wouldnt have been a simple case of two songs dropped in favour of these two. We ended up with an iconic album and an iconic double a-side single, which more could we want.

Maybe "dreadful mistake" is a bit harsh. Then again, I wasn't the one behind the glass with the trained ear. george-martin

So what if the theme had been extended? With the creativity John and Paul showed in their songwriting during this period, would that have been a terrible alternative? Maybe, maybe not. 

I agree the album as it stands now is iconic. At the same time, I am one of those who feels the album as a whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. There are individual tracks that I feel are weak when played out of context (no, I will not be baited by anyone into an argument as to which ones I refer). I think it would be hard to argue that the inclusion of these two songs at the expense of two others would not have been an improvement. It's too bad they had nothing else laying around that was deemed "single-worthy".

In playing "mmm's advocate", I too worry over the fate of the non-theme tracks. Some of them are damn good. But, could their inclusion on future albums have made those albums even better? 

Yikes - my head hurts thinking about these possibilities. I think I'll just "settle" for the canon they did release and remain eternally grateful for it. 

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