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Penny Lane
Song

Penny Lane

The Beatles
Album:
Penny Lane

Song Meaning and Background of Penny Lane by The Beatles


After Lennon composed “Strawberry Fields Forever,” McCartney wrote his own snappy memoir.

Penny Lane was a Liverpool bus stop where Lennon and McCartney often met.


“The song was generated by a kind of ‘I can do just as well as you can, John,’ because we’d just recorded ‘Strawberry Fields,'” said George Martin. “It was such a knockout, I think Paul went back to perfect his idea.”


There was collaboration amid the competition, too: “John came over and helped me with the third verse, as was often the case,” McCartney said. “We were writing recently faded memories from eight or 10 years before.”


The song is a much more electronic track than most of the band's material before or after.


The Beatles began recording "Penny Lane" in December 1966, intending it as a song for their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Instead, after it was issued as a single to satisfy record company demand for a new release, the band adhered to their policy of omitting previously released singles from their albums.


Penny Lane is a road in the south Liverpool suburb of Mossley Hill. The name also applies to the area surrounding its junction with Smithdown Road and Allerton Road, and to the roundabout at Smithdown Place that was the location for a major bus terminus, originally an important tram junction of Liverpool Corporation Tramways.


The roundabout was a frequent stopping place for John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison during their years as schoolchildren and students.


Bus journeys via Penny Lane and the area itself subsequently became familiar elements in the early years of the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership.


In 2009, McCartney reflected: "Penny Lane" was kind of nostalgic, but it was really [about] a place that John and I knew ... I'd get a bus to his house and I'd have to change at Penny Lane, or the same with him to me, so we often hung out at that terminus, like a roundabout. It was a place that we both knew, and so we both knew the things that turned up in the story.

 

Lennon's original lyrics for "In My Life" had included a reference to Penny Lane.


Soon after the Beatles recorded "In My Life" in October 1965, McCartney mentioned to an interviewer that he wanted to write a song about Penny Lane.


A year later, he was prompted to write the song once he heard Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever".

McCartney also cited Dylan Thomas's nostalgic poem "Fern Hill" as an inspiration for the song.


Lennon co-wrote the lyrics with McCartney. He recalled in a 1970 interview: "The bank was there, and that was where the trams sheds were and people waiting and the inspector stood there, the fire engines were down there. It was reliving childhood."


Writing for the song took place early in the sessions for what became the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which commenced following a three-month period when the Beatles had pursued individual interests. Beatles biographer Ian MacDonald suggested an LSD influence, saying that the lyrical imagery points to McCartney first taking LSD in late 1966.


In the United States, the song became the band's 13th single to reach number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Lyrics of Penny Lane by The Beatles


In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs

Of every head he's had the pleasure to have known

And all the people that come and go

Stop and say hello

 

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar

The little children laugh at him behind his back

And the banker never wears a mac

In the pouring rain, very strange

 

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

I sit, and meanwhile back

 

In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass

And in his pocket is a portrait of the queen

He likes to keep his fire engine clean

It's a clean machine

 

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

A four of fish and finger pies

In summer, meanwhile back

 

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout

The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

And though she feels as if she's in a play

She is anyway

 

In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer

We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim

And then the fireman rushes in

From the pouring rain, very strange

 

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

I sit, and meanwhile back

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

Penny Lane


Release Date

1967

Songwriter/s

Lennon-McCartney

Producer/s

George Martin

Label/s

EMI

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