The fourth take Lennon recorded in Spain shows yet more development.
A recording may be found on this YouTube video, from 4:02-5:45.
A transcription of this fourth take is below. (Click the picture to enlarge.) Note: In many instances, the rhythms have been simplified for the sake of visual simplicity.
There are several minor changes to the verse (the addition of the word "is" to the first line, the furthered melodic ornamentation to the words "but it's alright", a slight melodic and lyrical variation on the words "You know I think it's not too bad"), but the most significant differences are in the chorus: the first half has been doubled in length (the second half remains the same), and a melody and lyrics have been added to all but the last three measures.
Though still lacking a few lines and word changes, the words to this chorus are very similar to those of the result.
This is, in fact, the first time the words "Strawberry Fields" have been used in the song - but it appears only in th first half of the chorus and not in the second half (as would be the case with the finished product). One wonders when Lennon stopped calling it "It's Not Too Bad" and started calling it "Strawberry Fields".
Strawberry Field (note: singular, not plural) was an orphanage in Woolton, very near to the house where Lennon grew up. Woolton was “a delightful place for two rambunctious boys to grow up in,” said John's best friend from childhood, Pete Shotton. “Its fields and woods had yet to be superseded by housing projects, and John and I suffered no shortage of secret dens and playgrounds – whose allure was often enhanced by their being officially off-limits to the public. One of our favorites was Strawberry Fields, a large, wooded property attached to the castle-like lodgings of the Salvation Army Children's Home. During the summer, this institution regularly opened its strawberry-colored iron gates for a series of garden parties. John I, however, were in the habit of climbing over the walls whenever the spirit moved us – unless and until the resident nuns happened to chase us away” (page 38). John's aunt, Mimi, with whom he lived with for the majority of his childhood, recalled similar fond memories: "There was something about the place that always fascinated John. He could see it from his window, and he loved going to the garden party they had each year. He used to hear the Salvation Army band, and he would pull me along, saying, 'Hurry up, Mimi – we're going to be late!'” (Goldman page 255)
Paul McCartney saw a little bit deeper: “I've seen Strawberry Fields described as a dull, grimy place next door to him that John imagined to be a beautiful place," he said. "But in the summer it wasn't dull and grimy at all: it was a secret garden. John's memory of it wasn't to do with the fact that it was a Salvation Army home; that was up at the house. There was a wall you could bunk over and it was a rather wild garden, it wasn't manicured at all, so it was easy to hid in. The bit he went into was a secret garden like in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and he thought of it like that, it was a little hide-away for him where he could maybe have a smoke, like in his dreams a little, so it was a get-away. It was an escape for John” (Many Years From Now page 306-7).
An escape from what? During his childhood, an escape from his caring but domineering Aunt, and from the emotional turmoil surrounding his mother (from whom John was forcibly taken to live with Aunt Mimi, and who died when John was 17 years old) and absentee father. In 1966, however, Lennon would have been 25 years old, and his imaginary return to Strawberry Field in the form of song was an escape from the reality that, no longer touring, the Beatles were probably through as a band.
Goldman, Albert. The Lives of John Lennon. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, NY, 1988.
Miles, Barry. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now. Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY, 1997.
Shotton, Pete and Nicholas Schaffner. The Beatles Lennon and Me. Stein and Day, New York, NY, 1983.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.