the barber’s shop was called Bioletti’s. In his biography, ‘Many Years
From Now,’ Paul recalled, “It was all based on real things; there was
a bank on the corner so I imagined the banker, it was not a real person,
and his slightly dubious habits and the little children laughing at
him, and the pouring rain. The fire station was a bit of poetic licence;
there’s a fire station about half a mile down the road, not actually
in Penny Lane, but we needed a third verse so we took that and I was
very pleased with the line ‘It’s a clean machine.’”
The track was recorded in January 1967 and among the musicians who were to perform on overdubs were flautists Ray Swinfield, P.Goody, Manny Winters and Dennis Walton; trumpeters Leon Calvert, Freddy Clayton, Bert Courtley and Duncan Campbell; oboists Dick Morgan and Mike Winfield – and bassist Frank Clarke.
Clarke was later to say, “I’ve spent a lifetime playing with top orchestras, yet I’m most famous for playing on 'Penny Lane'.”
was still not satisfied with the track and he was sitting at home watching
the BBC2 TV show ‘Masterworks’ with David Mason performing Bach’s Brandenberg
Concerto No.2 in F Major. He arranged for Mason to be hired to play
trumpet on the ‘Penny Lane’ track and was satisfied with the finished
Recording manager George Martin commented, “We had no music prepared. We just knew that we wanted little piping interjections. As we came to each little section where we wanted the sound, Paul would think up the notes he wanted and I would write them down for David. The result was unique, something that had never been done in rock music before, and it gave ‘Penny Lane’ a very distinct character.”
number is one of the most uplifting and cheery of the Beatles' songs
and caused problems in Liverpool with fans stealing the actual Penny
Lane street signs. It was an act later to be repeated at Abbey Road
and resulted in Liverpool Corporation ceasing to make street signs for
Penny Lane, settling for painting the street name on buildings instead.
It was suggested that Paul might have been inspired by Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘Fern Hill’, a nostalgic look at childhood, which Paul had been reading at the time.
He composed the number on his piano at his Cavendish Avenue, St John’s Wood house.