Let Me Take You Down: “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Univ. of Minnesota. Apr. 2024. 152p. ISBN 9781517914486. $22.95. MUSIC
Cott (There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak) is known for conducting a nine-hour interview with John Lennon three days before his death in 1980. In this book, Cott writes about the creation and significance of two Beatles songs: “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” After a chaotic 1966 summer concert schedule that began in West Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and ended in San Francisco, the Beatles decided to stop touring, and they temporarily parted ways. Lennon wrote “Strawberry Fields Forever” in Almería, Spain, while Paul McCartney wrote “Penny Lane” in London. Cott excellently documents the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, as well as the details of the Abbey Road recording sessions that led to the February 1967 double A-side 45 single. The second half of the monograph is more scholarly in tone, drawing on mythology, music, literature, psychology, art, and religion in extended conversations with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, actor/Buddhist Richard Gere, Jungian analyst Margaret Klenck, and others, to explore how both songs reflect Lennon’s and McCartney’s childhood memories and ways of looking at the world.
VERDICT A distinctive academic perspective on two classic Beatles tunes.
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