AboutEditThe song's title is derived from the name of a street in the band's hometown, Liverpool. The area that surrounds its junction with Smithdown Road is also commonly called Penny Lane. Locally the term "Penny Lane" was the name given to Allerton Road and Smithdown Road and its busy shopping area. Penny Lane is named after James Penny, an 18th century slave trader. McCartney and Lennon grew up in the area and they would meet at Penny Lane junction in the Mossley Hill area to catch a bus into the centre of the city. The street is an important landmark, sought out by most Beatles fans touring Liverpool. In the past, street signs saying "Penny Lane" were constant targets of tourist theft and had to be continually replaced. Eventually, city officials gave up and simply began painting the street name on the sides of buildings. This practice was stopped in 2007 and more theft-resistant "Penny Lane" street signs have since been installed though some are still stolen.
Beatles producer George Martin has stated he believes the pairing of "Penny Lane" with "Strawberry Fields Forever" resulted in probably the greatest single ever released by the group. Both songs were later released on the US Magical Mystery Tour album in November 1967. In the UK, the pairing famously failed to reach #1 in the singles charts, stalling one place below Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me". In the US the song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a week before being knocked off by The Turtles song "Happy Together". The song features contrasting verse-chorus form and was credited "Lennon/McCartney", although McCartney was the main contributor to the song.
Following the success of the double A-side "Yellow Submarine"/"Eleanor Rigby", Brian Epstein inquired if they had any new material available. Both songs, though recorded during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, were left off the album, a decision Martin regretted, although The Beatles usually did not include songs released as singles on their British albums. This was also the first single by The Beatles to be sold with a picture sleeve in the UK, a practice rarely used there at that time, but common in the US and various other countries (such as Japan).
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, harmony and background vocal, three pianos, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), harmonium, sound effects
- John Lennon – harmony and backing vocal, two pianos, rhythm guitar (Epiphone 230TD Casino), congas, handclaps, sound effects
- George Harrison – backing vocal, handbell, handclaps, rhythm guitar (1961 Fender Stratocaster), sound effects
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, handclaps, cymbals, sound effects
- George Martin – piano, production, orchestration
- David Mason – piccolo trumpet solo
- Ray Swinfield, P. Goody, Manny Winters – flutes, piccolos
- Leon Calvert, Freddy Clayton, Bert Courtley, Duncan Campbell – trumpets, flugelhorn
- Dick Morgan, Mike Winfield – oboes, cor anglais
- Frank Clarke – double-bass
- Non-commercial versions used on promo copies for radio stations have more of the trumpet solo by David Mason at the end of the song.