Recording "Strawberry Fields Forever" #3

Tuesday, November 29, 1966 • For The Beatles

Part of


Recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Nov 24, 1966 - Apr 20, 1967 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane 7" Single.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

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About

On November 24, 1966, The Beatles started working on John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever“ and recorded Take 1. On November 28, they recorded three more takes of the track, adding some overdubs onto Take 4.

On this day, November 29, from 2:30 pm to 8 pm, they decided to re-record the backing track, with John Lennon on guitar, Paul McCartney on mellotron, George Harrison on maracas and Ringo Starr on drums.

Take 5 was a false start, while Take 6 was complete and received some overdubs. John added his lead vocals using varispeed, but those were replaced by a mellotron part played by George. Paul also added a bass part.

A reduction mix was then done, Take 6 becoming Take 7. John then added his new lead vocals onto Take 7, with varispeed applied. Three rough mono mixes of Take 7 were then done, with ADT (artificial double tracking) applied to John’s vocals. Four acetate discs were pressed and given to each Beatle.

Take 7 Remix 3 was released on Anthology 2 in 1996.

Just five days after that initial take of Strawberry Fields Forever the song’s arrangement was undergoing dramatic change. The master was a composite of two separate recordings – the first minute came from Take 7 the remainder from Take 26. Presented [on Anthology 2], issued for the first time, is the full Take 7, going beyond those first 60 seconds (indeed, including within that first minute a 23-second verse that was later excised).

The sound is mono because the recording presented here is an original mono mix – labelled RM3 – made, like Take 7, on 29 November 1966.

The conclusion of the original master (embracing Take 26) included sections flown in from a combination of edit piece taped on 9 December featuring backwards cymbals, a “wild drum track” played by Ringo and some extemporal vocalising by John. A much longer section of this edit piece is released here, again for the first time, crossfaded on to the end of RM3. At the conclusion one can hear John twice mutter “cranberry sauce“, a phrase which, less clearly audible right at the end of the master mix, has long puzzled listeners.

From Anthology 2 liner notes, about Take 7 Remix 3

Take 7 was also released on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (50th anniversary boxset) in 2017, but with some tweaks in the mix according to The Daily Beatle:

Could this be something new (as Take 7- overdubs on Take 6-  has been around on bootlegs for many years)?

It runs 3:16, while the booted version of this very same take runs 3:29 (depending on the source of your bootleg, some runs at a slower speed (3:29), some faster (3:24). Don’t count the version of this very same take that appear on Pegboy’s title “It’s Not Too Bad” which is way much slower and incomplete).

This Take 7 from the new Pepper Deluxe Box set has the same introduction as on bootlegs (with someone whistling and George Martin saying “Strawberry Fields Forever Take seven…”), Giles again edited out 8 seconds after the “Remix from four track Take Six” announcement and also did a fade out, but despite having those edits, there is something different:

  • On any of the bootleg versions of Take 7 stereo, after the “Remix from four track take six” announcement, there is a slight space of silence, then the tape running again, some mellotron sounds and John making a quick “Donald Duck” impression over those sounds (not available on Take 6), some silence  and after that John can be heard with a small hiccup and saying “Ohh” (that comes from Take 6), then the take begins.
  • On this “new” version after the “Remix from four track take six” announcement, we can hear only a count-in from Paul “Two, Three, Four” (not present on any of the past takes, especially Take 6), there is no John with hiccup or saying anything. If we compare this version with RM3 (Mono Remix) but the version from the bootleg and not the one included on Anthology CD 2 because that version  has the slate edited out; we can hear after George Martin says “Strawberry Fields RM3” a different tape intro and later the same mellotron sounds but without the Donald Duck impression, and Paul’s count in loud and clear, and also no hiccup from John, so the RM3 Mono mix from the bootlegs is very similar to this new “Take 7”, but this is in stereo. An undocumented RS mix or simply Giles edited out the “Donald Duck” sounds, the hiccup, the “Ohh” and added Paul’s count-in? But if he did that, why the original RM3 doesn’t have also neither of that and the count-in has the same volume intensity? Giles took Paul’s count-in from the Mono Mix? (because none of the bootleg sources containing Take 7 have a count-in.)

This Take 7 Stereo Mix is new to me. Let’s wait for what the line notes of the Deluxe Box will say.

From Sgt Pepper – what’s new – The Daily Beatle (webgrafikk.com)

At this stage, The Beatles thought the recording of “Strawberry Fields Forever” was over. They didn’t know yet that they would come back to it on December 8, 1966.


All in all, three long sessions were devoted to recording that one track, which seemed like a lot at the time. John seemed to be having a lot of trouble making up his mind about how he wanted the song recorded, but with the addition of some double-tracked vocals and a few piano overdubs, it was deemed finished… for the moment. (Little did we know that many more hours would be expended before Lennon was satisfied.) A rough mono mix was run off and playback lacquers were ordered so the band could listen to the song at home.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

Strangely, the Sergeant Pepper album originated with a song which was never on it, ‘Strawberry Fields’. That November John came into the studio, and we went into our regular routine. I sat on my high stool with Paul standing beside me, and John stood in front of us with his acoustic guitar and sang the song. It was absolutely lovely. Then we tried it with Ringo on drums, and Paul and George on their bass and electric guitars. It started to get heavy – it wasn’t the gentle song that I had first heard. We ended up with a record which was very good heavy rock. Still, that was apparently what John wanted, so I metaphorically shrugged my shoulders and said: “Well, that really wasn’t what I’d thought of, but it’s OK”. And off John went.

A week later he came back and said: “I’ve been thinking about it, too, George. Maybe what we did was wrong. I think we ought to have another go at doing it.” […]

George Martin – From “All You Need Is Ears

Last updated on January 15, 2023

Songs recorded


1.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 5


2.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 6


3.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Tape reduction take 6 into take 7


4.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 7

Album Officially released on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (50th anniversary boxset)


5.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 7


6.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 7


7.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 7

Album Officially released on Anthology 2

Staff

Musicians on "Strawberry Fields Forever"

Paul McCartney:
Mellotron, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison:
Maracas, Mellotron

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Second Engineer

Going further


The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

Shop on Amazon


The Beatles Recording Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)

The second book of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)-nominated series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 2: Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)" follows the evolution of the band from the end of Beatlemania with "Help!" through the introspection of "Rubber Soul" up to the sonic revolution of "Revolver". From the first take to the final remix, discover the making of the greatest recordings of all time.

Through extensive, fully-documented research, these books fill an important gap left by all other Beatles books published to date and provide a unique view into the recordings of the world's most successful pop music act.

Shop on Amazon


If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


http://www.beatlesebooks.com/strawberry-fields-forever


http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/beatles/strawberry-fields.html

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