Today (February 17th) marks the 40th anniversary of The Single That Changed Everything. The "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" double A-side.
"Strawberry Fields" is pretty consistently my favourite Beatles track. Yeah, they wrote better songs, with better lyrics and better melodies, they had harder or dreamier or more perfect (or more perfectly sloppy) performances, and they even had more psychedelic production than this. But there's something extra-special about this cut, which came together through many takes, weeks of experimentation and fragile cobblings-together (bravo, George Martin!) of multiple performances and layers. While album tracks like "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "I'm Only Sleeping" had used multi-tracking, backwards tape, and other studio effects to augment their moods, "Strawberry Fields Forever" was the first and biggest modern art-rock smash hit single. It's impossible to imagine a song so far outside the norm ever getting airplay on rock or pop radio nowadays, much less becoming a bona fide hit ("Penny Lane" was a bigger hit, actually, though both sides charted at the same time).
Remember, the #1 single just a couple weeks earlier had been "Kind of a Drag" by The Buckinghams.
And if you're in Liverpool today, Ha! Ha! Bar and Canteen are offering half-price Strawberry Margaritas.
•The Beatles: Strawberry Fields Forever (MP3)
•The Beatles: Penny Lane (via RapidShare)
•The Buckinghams: Kind of a Drag (via RapidShare)