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The truth about how John Lennon wrote Strawberry Fields Forever

by Katie Hickox, Beatles News Liverpool reporter

On September 19, 1966, John Lennon arrived in Almeria, Spain, for six weeks on invitation of Richard Lester to be part of the film, "How I Won The War."

Beatles fan and researcher J. Adolfo Iglesias came from his hometown of Almeria, Spain, to the Liverpool International BeatleWeek 2016 festival last week to give a fascinating one hour presentation about the 50th anniversary of John Lennon's visit to Almeria, and to share with Beatles fans how John came to write Strawberry Fields Forever during his six week stay.

Adolfo asked the question, "Why did John Lennon write Strawberry Fields Forever while in Almeria, Spain?"

He found out that John didn't take any drugs for six weeks during the filming, because he had to get up early every morning and had to be able to say his lines. Taking drugs would have interfered with his acting. Thus, Adolfo concludes, the lyrics in Strawberry Fields Forever have nothing to do with psychedelic drugs as was widely reported in the media.

J. Adolfo Iglesias at Liverpool International BeatleWeek 2016

Adolfo says that Strawberry Fields Forever was considered an "erratic" song and is very different than other songs previously written by John Lennon.

Strawberry Fields Forever was written in "bits and pieces" on and off over six weeks, and the opening line, "Let me take you down" was added at the end after the rest of the song had already been written. The line "Let me take you down" had nothing to do with drugs, but was in the style of asking a friend to come with John down memory lane.

Adolfo makes the case that because John was a fan of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," he was referring to going down memory lane, or a rabbit hole, and that Strawberry Fields referred to a familiar place where he went and played as a young lad with his mates. Strawberry Fields was John's "Wonderland."

"Alice in Wonderland" also includes the phrase "nothing is real," undoubtedly John borrowed this phrase from Alice.

In addition, Adolfo made the point that when John writes, "nothing is real... and nothing to get hung about..." he is reflecting upon his recent experience of having been misunderstood due to the recent Jesus controversy. At this time, John felt very much alone and unreal and out of control how his "Jesus" quote that was taken out of context and seized upon by the press.

During the presentation, Adolf showed a photo of the original handwritten lyrics and notes written by John, and also shared various quotes John gave to the media over the years about how he wrote Strawberry Fields Forever.

One Rolling Stone interview from Nov 23, 1968 in particular discusses John's attempt to change his song writing style. John said, "I was going through a big scene about song writing again... it took me a long time to write it. See, I was writing all bits and bits. I wanted the lyrics to be like conversation. It didn't work..."

Back home in Almeria, Adolfo visits the places where John and his wife Cynthia lived during their six week stay, and says John really enjoyed the six weeks because no one knew who he was outside the film crew. He felt very relaxed and got a chance to enjoy the sun, beach and tranquility of the natural surroundings.

Cynthia Lennon visited the Santa Isabel villa again in 2006, and pointed out the rooms in which John had recorded the first demos of Strawberry Fields Forever. The Santa Isabel villa is open to the public, as it has been transformed into a cinema museum.


More information:
• J. Adolfo Iglesias at International Beatle Week
• Unique Almeria: Strawberry Fields Forever


Published September 6, 2016

This article is Copyright © 2016, Katie Hickox, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission




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