“Strawberries Mean Love” is the fourth song on Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s 1967 debut LP Incense And Peppermints, and the last song on the vinyl version’s side 1. It is the second track to feature a more placid and conventional pop sound, the first having been “Birds In My Tree”, and follows the chaos of the scrambled “Lose To Live”.
It is also one of the more genuinely psychedelic tracks on the album (second only perhaps to the excellent “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow”). It is led by distorted lead guitars, dense and droning in the classic Strawberry Alarm Clock way. The lyrics sport a world-weariness borrowed from Bob Dylan (if not actually earned by the young band members) and find them sneering at naivety Ã la “Like A Rolling Stone”:
“Life goes nowhere
Why are you there?
You cannot hide there
What will you find there?”
But then the answer comes from the multi-tracked voices in their lovely SAC harmony: “You will find strawberries’ love there.” Ah, I see. The idea behind the song seems to be an exercise in self-promotion, or (perhaps more charitably) building up a mythology around the band and its name. The answer, you see, is… strawberries…
It is a catchy idea, and one of the band’s many latter-day compilation albums was called Strawberries Mean Love, even if the “philosophy” behind the message seems a bit dated and nonsensical from a jaded 21st-century perspective.
Instrumentally, “Strawberries Mean Love” is an excellent demonstration of the band’s innovative lead guitar sound courtesy of Ed King. The song has a rather slow pace, and the lead guitar lines here match that pace. King is ultra-melodic and his buzzing, sleepily droning tone gives the song virtually all of its atmosphere. The vocalists are backed up by soft, harmonic “oohs” by other band members, and the overall performance is rather dense and blissful.
“Strawberries Mean Love” is a good song, but not great, and its inclusion in so many SAC compilation albums (indeed its becoming the title of one) may have as much to do with its marketable name as its musical value.