Sunday, June 01, 2008

Beatles Talk

Recorded press conference excerpts transcribed in question and answer form by Frederick James

Q: When were "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" written?

JOHN: We thought about writing some songs about places in Liverpool ages ago, I mean a couple of years ago at least. I remember then Paul thought of doing one all about Penny Lane. I started to work on "Strawberry Fields Forever" when I was filming in Spain last October. We had a lot of waiting around to do. Paul did most of "Penny Lane" just before Christmas.

PAUL: Mind you, most of the stuff we write now is unfinished when we go into the recording studio. We use a lot of studio time for doing arrangements and actually rehearsing new songs. That's what happened with these two for the single.

Q: Last month I asked you about television and you, Paul, said The Beatles would like to do your own programme. Any more details on that yet?

PAUL: Well, you see, it's going to be a whole show built around the next LP which we haven't quite finished. So we haven't finished the TV programme either. A couple of weeks ago we had some cameraman in the recording studio while we were working on one of the LP tracks. If it fits in O.K. that will be one bit of the TV programme.

Q: This new recording contract which was signed on your behalf by Brian Epstein--what does it mean?

GEORGE: For a start it should mean the end of all the rumours about The Beatles breaking up. Brian signed a nine-year contract for us with E.M.I. Records. That means we want to go on making records--as a group--until at least 1976.

Q: How about this cinema you're building for yourself, Ringo?

RINGO: Yeah, how about that! I just like movies, you know. We all do.

Q: We've established that John did most of the composing work for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and Paul's ideas went into "Penny Lane". Is it coincidence that whoever writes a song is also the Beatle who sings it on record?

JOHN: Yes and no, if you know what I mean. I suppose I write the way I know I can sing even if I don't realise it at the time. But we don't often write entirely on our own--I mean I did bits for "Penny Lane" and Paul wrote some of "Strawberry Fields".

PAUL: The singing bit isn't strictly true anyway because John sings "Penny Lane" with me although everybody keeps saying it's my solo side.

Q: When you filmed your special TV sequences for the new single why didn't you go up to the actual places mentioned in the songs? Up to Liverpool?

RINGO: We hadn't got time, really. We were in the middle of recording more LP material. That was all in the first ten days of February. So the director, a great Swedish bloke named Peter Goldmann, found a place in Kent. Knole Park Estate at Sevenoaks. It was just right for "Strawberry Fields" and much easier to get to from London. Then they took film shots of the real places in Liverpool to go with the shots of us. All very clever.

Q: For "Penny Lane" I believe you almost rode horses in Stratford, E.15?

RINGO: What do you mean ALMOST? It was on a Sunday. The horses arrived very late and it was getting dark so we weren't able to film much. Anyway about 2,000 kids all over East London found out about the filming and we nearly caused a couple of traffic jams!

Q: Whose idea was it to add those extra few seconds onto the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever"?

GEORGE: Often after a recording "take"--you know, after we've taped a number--we just go on playing for fun. This time we decided to put some of it onto the actual record. I don't know who thought of it.

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