Thursday, June 1, 2017

50 years ago: The Beatles “A Day in the Life” released on Sgt. Pepper’s

A Day in the Life

The Beatles

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

Released: June 2, 1967 (as album cut)

Released: September 16, 1978 (as single)

Peak: 1 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 104.9 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This is “one of the most complex and ambitious…songs performed by the Beatles...[and] the most outstanding instance” AMG of “seemingly disparate elements...fitted together into a cohesive and powerful whole.” BBC Producer George Martin said, “‘We put two pieces of songs together that weren’t connected in any way. Then we had that 24-bars-of-nothing in between…I wondered whether we were losing our audience...but...when I played it to the head of Capitol Records in America...he...said, ‘That’s fantastic.’ And of course, it was.’” SF

“The beginning was based on two stories John Lennon read.” SF One was a Daily Mail story about “the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne in a car crash,” BBC the other a Daily Express article about a surveyor who said the material needed to repair the roads of Blackburn “was enough to fill the Albert Hall.” SF Lennon created a “narrative of going through the motions and observing, in a detached manner, the cruelties and absurdities of the everyday world.” AMG

This was paired with a “jaunty McCartney tune about waking up and going to work. By itself, [it]...wouldn’t have been much. What made it effective was its juxtaposition next to Lennon’s dreamier sections.” AMG

In the middle was “the apocalyptic string crescendo [which] was McCartney’s idea.” BBC The orchestra was instructed “to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.” SF The Beatles invited friends like Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull who, as Martin says, were “‘passing out sparklers and joints and…party novelties…The orchestra leader, David McCallum, who used to be the leader of the Royal Philharmonic, was sitting there in a bright red false nose.’” TC


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First posted 4/17/2020; last updated 8/24/2022.

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