Saturday, September 05, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 16. Strawberry fields forever/Penny Lane (Beatles)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #16, we find the Beatles, with the most impressive double A-side single of all time: Strawberry fields forever/Penny Lane (#1 in 1967). Both songs are as classic as they are different. Strawberry fields forever makes a strong claim to be one of the first prog rock hits. The theme of the song is that a lethargic, peaceful drugs-induced feeling is preferable to the harsh reality of the outside world. Musically, the song owes as much to producer George Martin as to Lennon itself. Lennon had composed and recorded two sections that did not fit together - so Martin slowed one portion down and sped up the other, and they miraculously fitted. To top it off, the song ends after a few seconds of silence with a stunningly original musique concrete style fragment. Less experimental than its flip side, the melodic stunner Penny Lane is one of the most beautiful songs that Paul ever composed. A little known detail is the sexual reference in the lyrics: the "fish and finger pie" segment, which is Liverpool slang for manual stimulation of as woman. It was sufficiently obscure to prevent the song from being banned from the airwaves though. Art Rock score for both: 9/10 (awesome song, one of the 1000 best of all time).