John Lennon Compared The Beatles' 'Strawberry Fields Forever' to Buddhist Philosophy
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John Lennon with a mustache during The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" era


John Lennon connected The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Buddhist philosophy, and his feelings of persecution to each other during the same interview.

The best pop songs are the ones that are almost too intelligent to be pop songs. The Beatles‘ “Strawberry Fields Forever” questions the nature of reality, which John Lennon connected to Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. He also discussed how certain philosophical ideas influenced his everyday life. 

John Lennon discussed 1 famous line from The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” includes the famous line “Nothing is real.” During a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, John was asked about this observation. “In a way, no thing is real, if you break the word down,” he opined.

“As the Hindus or Buddhists say, it’s an illusion,” he said. “It’s Rashomon. We all see it, but the agreed-upon illusion is what we live in. And the hardest thing is facing yourself.” Rashomon is a famous film by director Akira Kurosawa about different perspectives on a single crime.

John Lennon discussed how he felt about illusions and his feelings of persecution

John elaborated on the concept of illusion. “I used to think that the world was doing it to me and the world owed me something, and that either the conservatives or the socialists or the fascists or the communists or the Christians or the Jews were doing something to me,” he said.

“I’ve found out for me personally — not for the whole world — that I am responsible for me, as well as for them,” he continued. “I am part of them. There’s no separation: We’re all one, so in that respect I look at it all and think, ‘Ah, I have to deal with me again in that way. What is real? What is the illusion I’m living or not living?’ And I have to deal with it every day.” 

John added that everyone was looking through the layers of an onion. This comment alluded to the song “Glass Onion” from The White Album. John seemed to agree with the Rolling Stone reporter that his songs “Watching the Wheels” and “Look at Me” also questioned the nature of reality.

How The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ performed on the pop charts

“Strawberry Fields Forever” became a modest hit for The Beatles in the United States. It reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. The tune appeared on the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour, which includes a number of hit singles that weren’t on the original version of the record. That LP topped the Billboard 200 for eight of its 93 weeks on the chart.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Strawberry Fields Forever” reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom when it was released as a double A-side with “Penny Lane.” The tunes lasted 11 weeks on the chart. Upon rerelease, “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaked at No. 32 and spent three weeks on the chart. Magical Mystery Tour, meanwhile, peaked at No. 31 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks. 

“Strawberry Fields Forever” was a hit song and it reflects John’s (and Buddhist) philosophy. 

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