Friday, August 1, 2014

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 with “A Hard Day’s Night”

A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: July 10, 1964

First Charted: July 11, 1964

Peak: 1 US, 13 CB, 2 GR, 13 HR, 1 CL, 13 UK, 11 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 36.0 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Village Voice film critic Andrew Sarris called A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles’ first film, “the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals.” FB The Daily Mail declared the Beatles “as funny as the Marx Brothers.” FB The idea was to follow a fictional account of the Beatles for two days, effectively capturing what it was like for them to live their lives in a fish bowl.

Filmed under the working title Beatlemania, it acquired its name from a comment from Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr. After a day of strenuous filming, he said, “It’s been a hard day’s night, that was!” FB Another account, however, suggested that it was after a day in the recording studio and he was possibly quoting the title of Eartha Kitt’s “I Had a Hard Day Last Night.” KL

According to an interview with Ringo in 1964, he said, “We went to do a job, and we’d worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, ‘It’s been a hard day…’ and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, ‘Night! So we came to ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’” SF Before it was used for the movie or song title, John Lennon used it in his short story “Sad Michael,” saying “There was no reason for Michael to be sad that morning, (the little wretch): everyone liked him (the scab). He’d had a hard day’s night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower.” SF

Lennon wrote the song with some contributions from Paul McCartney. WK It was the last to be composed for the movie’s soundtrack. SF Walter Shenson, the movie’s producer, told PBS that he’d asked John to write a song incorporating the movie’s title. He assumed it would take days or weeks to write, but John came in the next day with it. SF It featured “long, repeating notes, that are uncommon in pop music.” SF It featured “double-tracked vocals by Lennon, and lead and harmony vocals by McCartney.” FB The unmistakable “mighty opening chord” WK was played on a Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string guitar by George Harrison. WK


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 153.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 100-102.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 3/17/2021; last updated 7/13/2023.

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