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The Winner: The Beatles!

Last week, you, our wonderful listeners (and readers), helped me pick our next Karaoke English song by selecting your favorite recording artist in a poll.  The clear winner, with 20% of the vote, is the Beatles!

The Beatles have had so many number-one hits that it’s difficult to select just one of their songs to include here.  After looking at the lyrics (words in songs), though, I realized that many of their songs have simple lyrics that probably don’t require very much explaining.  That’s why I selected “Penny Lane.”

A lane is a small street and Penny Lane is a street in Liverpool, England, the city where the Beatles are from.  Penny Lane is in a busy shopping area, and when Paul McCartney and John Lennon were growing up, they would meet there to take a bus into the center of the city. This song, then, is a nostalgic (with warm feelings for the past) look at a place where McCartney and Lennon spent so many of their younger days.

Since the street Penny Lane became famous, Beatles fans have made it a point to (are certain to) visit this landmark (important historical location).  In fact, the Penny Lane street sign had been stolen by tourists so many times that for several years, city officials stopped replacing it, instead painting the name of the street on the side of the buildings there.  In 2007, however, the city installed (put into position permanently) a new Penny Lane street sign that is very difficult to steal.

Thanks, again, to those who voted, and I’ll include songs from some of the other top vote-getters (people/things getting votes) in future weeks.  Here are the four lads (British English for “guys”) from Liverpool.

~ Lucy

“Penny Lane”
The Beatles

Penny Lane there is a barber (man whose job is to cut hair) showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to have known
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar (old-fashioned term for “car”)
The little children laugh at him behind his back (without him knowing)
And the banker never wears a mac (short for “mackintoch,” a British English word for “raincoat,” a coat you wear to keep the rain off your body)
In the pouring (very heavy) rain…
Very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath (under) the blue suburban (not city; neighborhood outside of the city where people live) skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass (a glass container with two parts, in which sand takes an hour to move from the top part to the bottom part)
And in his pocket is a portrait (picture or image of a person) of the Queen.
He likes to keep his fire engine (vehicle driven and used to put out fires) clean
It’s a clean machine

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
Four of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back

Behind the shelter (temporary structure that gives protection from the weather) in the middle of a roundabout (British English term for “traffic circle,” where cars coming from several directions move around an area in a circle to reach the next street)
A pretty nurse is selling poppies (type of flower) from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway

Penny Lane the barber shaves (removes hair from one’s face (and other areas) with a razor) another customer
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim (a minor haircut; cutting off a little hair to make the hair look neat)
Then the fireman rushes in (enters in a hurry)
From the pouring rain…
Very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies…
Penny Lane.

17 Responses to “The Winner: The Beatles!”

  1. magda Says:

    Thanks.

  2. Kersh Says:

    Thank you, Lucy! It was educational and interesting)

  3. Chris Says:

    It is good information. Thank you.

  4. gregorex Says:

    Cheers Lucy! Beautiful song.

    PS. Next time maybe you can do Macarena.
    I know very famous artist who can perform it, Los Jeffos Angelos Catos Entusiastos ;-)

  5. Noeun Says:

    I didn’t know a ‘mac’ means a raincoat. Thank you for your good information.

  6. Yaroslav Says:

    Many thanks from St Petersburg, Russia! You’ve been doing great work!

  7. Farahnaz Says:

    Thanks a lot Lucy, it is a meaningful sing. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading another one.
    Good luck

  8. evg Says:

    My lovely song. Thanks.

    I bet nobody here understand “Four of fish and finger pies”. I thought it’s “Full of fish and finger pies (some exotic British pies)” before. The explanation is on the forum at wordreference.com.

    And could anybody explain why “a fireman with an hourglass”? What is the sand-glass for to the fireman?

  9. dongsung Says:

    Unless fire break, the fire fighter spend with nothing to do. That’s why relics say it’s strange in every paragraph, I think.
    Thank you for the song. It’s a lot better with understanding the relic.

  10. emiliano Says:

    Thank you very much Lucy, one of the nicest Beatles songs that has not an easy lyric. In fact it cost me a lot to understand it just till this moment.
    Having your explanation it is now more clear and nicer.

    We are looking forward to see more lyrics in future, thanks again.

  11. Tania Says:

    Hi ! I have never listened to this song . The lyrics are good to learn more English . And this is our purpose .
    Good selection ! Thank you .

    Tania

  12. Tania Says:

    Hi ! For Evg : A fireman has an hourglass , we call it “clepsidra” , as he has to intervene in some minutes in case of fire . It’s the symbol of the time passing .
    Thank you for your explanation .

  13. Farahnaz Says:

    Hi! evg
    I’ve thought about your question for a long time and finally I found out that sand-glass shows the moments of life that past quickly. If the sand drops down completely and the firefighter can’t do anything to survive sb’s life. it’s too late to do anything else. when the sand is finished, the life is finished too.
    Ggood question.
    Farahnaz

  14. pavel Says:

    but still, what does “Four of fish and finger pies” mean?

  15. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    I found this on Wikipedia:

    “The mysterious lyrics “Four of fish and finger pies” are British slang. “A four of fish” refers to fourpennyworth (what an amount of money can buy) of fish and chips (French fries), while “finger pie” is sexual slang of the time, apparently referring to intimate fondlings (touching) between teenagers in the shelter, which was a familiar meeting place.”

    I hope that explains it. This is another example of the perils (dangers) of an American trying to explain British English!

    Lucy

  16. Valery Says:

    Good song, good tune. I love Beatles, but I have never listened to this song.

  17. R.Radaelli Says:

    It’s always nice listen to The Beatles or “Os Reis do Iê Iê Iê” as they were called here in Brazil.

    Thank you!