No one, I think, is in my tree
That was the original title of this blog, a lyric from the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," my personal favorite. I've already explained why I changed the title; does it really need explanation?
I was singing with some kids today, fourth graders mostly, and I played the song for them. How did it make them feel?, I asked. One of them didn't like it because it sounded sad, and I couldn't argue with that. Then another said he didn't like it, and when I asked why, he replied that the "theme" didn't sound right, that it sounded "creepy." They're right. It is a sad, creepy song. That's why it is so great!
Ever since I was in fifth grade, I have been intrigued and bewildered by this song; I remember sitting in front of my parents' record player, listening to the Magical Mystery Tour album, repeating this track, scrawling the lyrics down in confusion. Why? Because the Beatles only included the B-side lyrics in the liner notes, or at least in my mom's copy of the record. This fascinating poem was nowhere to be found.
So I remember writing, "Always no sometimes think its me/ but you know I know and it's a dream/ That is a no I mean a yes but it's all wrong/ That is I think I disagree." What? What is John Lennon talking about? As an inquisitive eleven-year-old, I was forced to accept the nonsense and inconclusiveness of Lennon's lyrics, which were gripping in their musical context of haunting strings and backwards flutes.
Click on my Hype Machine widget to the right of this post, and you can hear various versions of this song, none of them the original release (there's a classical guitar interpretation, the Beatles' studio version sans vocals, and a Spanish ska (reggae? rocksteady?) cover, featuring Debbie Harry). I believe that they each capture the song's essence, but the instrumental Beatles one is the most powerful.
Choosing favorites is difficult, because different pieces of art serve different purposes in one's life, but this song has been with me for a while, and I won't let it go. Have I heard better songs since my first listen to this gem? Maybe, but there's something about Strawberry Fields that I'm attached to- even if its magic were to fade, I would feign it out of nostalgic love.