It was 54 years ago Saturday (February 13th, 1967) that the Beatles released their double A-sided single of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” The single contained two of the first three songs recorded for the group's upcoming Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. (The other song, “When I'm 64,” was saved for the album.) The songs broke the group's then unprecedented six-month stretch since their last single, “Yellow Submarine” backed by “Eleanor Rigby.”
The new songs, which touched upon the group's Liverpool upbringing, were a study in contrasts, with Paul McCartney's more literal “Penny Lane” borrowing heavily from the sound of the Beach Boys' then-recent Pet Sounds album, and John Lennon's introspective “Strawberry Fields Forever” breaking new ground in both record production and song structure.
In a classic example of less being more, late-Beatles producer George Martin told us that the limited technology of the 1960's in no way held back the Beatles from recording timeless classics: “And I think in fact, if I had more than four tracks recording Sgt. Pepper, I don't think it would've been any better than it turned out. The music itself was so good, that no matter what you did with it — provided you did it reasonably, technically well — it would've survived.”