Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever
The single Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever is widely regarded as a classic among classics - a creative outburst and indisputably some the Beatles' best work. Beatles' producer George Martin regarded Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever as their two best songs to date.
The two songs were the first completed tracks for the sessions that would ultimately produce the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - an album often considered to be the best ever released, not just by The Beatles but by any artist.
Strawberry Fields Forever was originally intended for release on the Sgt. Pepper album but The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein urgently needed a single to release for marketing purposes and the two songs were sacrificed.
It was The Beatles policy that a song released as a single shouldn't then be re-released on an album. Martin later regarded the failure to include the two songs on Sgt. Pepper a
dreadful mistake. (The Beatles Anthology, 2000, p. 239)
It's ironic that this was the first time a Beatles' single fell short of reaching #1 on the UK charts dating to The Beatles' very first single Love Me Do in 1962. This had as much to do with BCC math as The Beatles' popularity at the time.
The BBC counted the two songs as individual singles meaning that although the double A-side single actually outsold the song listed at that top spot by nearly double, Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever became the first Beatles single not to reach the number one position in the UK. It was bested by the Engelbert Humperdinck's song "Release Me".
McCartney, however, indicated in a radio interview that he was not bothered by this because Humperdinck's song was a
completely different type of thing (The Beatles Anthology DVD, 2003, Episode 6 - 0:40:50) while RIngo Starr felt that it was a relief because
because "it took the pressure off the band. (The Beatles Anthology DVD, 2003, Episode 6 - 0:41:17)
The band certainly picked a good single to break their long streak of number one's - no one could say that it was because their quality was slipping.
In the U.S. Penny Lane made it to #1 and Strawberry Fields Forever reached #8.
Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane were later released on Magical Mystery Tour.