Musician Biographies » The Beatles » An End and a Beginning - The End Of Touring Life, More Popular Than Jesus?, Inventions, New Sounds, Making A Masterpiece

An End and a Beginning - New Sounds

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On a track like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” recorded for their landmark 1966 album, Revolver, it was obvious that their sound was becoming increasingly complex. On this particular song each Beatle created a tape loop to use in the song's background, and the effect was a pattern of birdlike sounds. The song itself was based around one chord. Although it sounds very simple, the song has an immediate and surprising effect. “‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was a great innovation,” said George Martin, their producer. “John wanted a very spooky kind of track, a very ethereal sound.” “Eleanor Rigby” is another haunting track from the same album, and features Paul singing about a lonely spinster, backed only by a string quartet. The Beatles' minds were opening up to new influences, which were translating into new ideas all the time. The confidence they had earned with their endless parade of hit singles was now directed toward experimenting with any new sound they could come up with. However unusual the sound, from a tape loop to a sitar, it was always in the service of a great, catchy song.

With touring now at an end, and the groundbreaking Revolver album just behind them, the Beatles took a small break in late 1966. George went to India to study the sitar. Paul worked on making movie soundtrack music. John decided to accept an offer to appear in a movie called How I Won the War, directed by Richard Lester, who also had directed A Hard Day's Night. While on location in Spain, John started to write an unusual and very personal song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The lyrics referred in part to a Salvation Army home in Liverpool called Strawberry Fields, and so invoked John's childhood memories. It started out as a simple song played on guitar, but once back in Abbey Road Studios it grew into much more. It became one of the most powerful songs of the psychedelic period of the 1960s. The term “psychedelic” came from the popularity of mind-expanding drugs like LSD, which many claimed opened up the mind's locked imaginative powers. Together with Paul's song “Penny Lane” as the B-side of the single, “Strawberry Fields Forever” became one of the most innovative singles ever, and remains so to this day.

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