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A Hard Day's Night
Next single = "I Feel Fine
Misc = Extra tracklisting
| Album = A Hard Day's Night
| prev_track =
| prev_no =
| this_track = "A Hard Day's Night"
| track_no = 1
| next_track = "I Should Have Known Better
| next_no = 2
"A Hard Day's Night
" is a 1964
hit song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
, performed by English
band The Beatles
and produced by George Martin
. The song featured prominently on the soundtrack
to The Beatles' first feature film
, A Hard Day's Night
, and was on their album of the same name. The song topped the charts in both the United Kingdom
and United States
when it was released as a single. Featuring a prominent and unique opening chord
, the song's success provided the first inkling that The Beatles were not the one-hit wonder
some had suggested when they first came to America.citation The American and British singles of "A Hard Day's Night" as well as both the American and British albums of the same title all held the top position in their respective charts for a couple of weeks in August 1964, the first time any artist had done this.citation
The song's strange title originated from something said by Ringo Starr
, The Beatles' drummer
. Starr described it this way in an interview with disc jockey Dave Hull
in 1964: "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.'"citation
Starr's statement was the inspiration for the title of the movie, which in turn inspired the composition of the song. According to John Lennon
in a 1980 interview with Playboy
magazine: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester director of the movie
suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in 'In His Own Write' a book Lennon was writing then
, but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropism
s. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.'"citation
In a 1994 interview for The Beatles Anthology
, however, Paul McCartney
disagreed with Lennon's recollections, basically stating that it was The Beatles and not Lester, who had come up with the idea of using Starr's verbal misstep: "The title was Ringo's. We'd almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we'd not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session... and we said, 'Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.' Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, 'Phew, it's been a hard day's night.'"citation
In 1996, yet another version of events cropped up — in an Associated Press
report, the producer of the film A Hard Day's Night
, Walter Shenson
, stated that Lennon described to Shenson some of Starr's funnier gaffes, including "a hard day's night," whereupon Shenson immediately decided that that was going to be the title of the movie (the originally planned title was Beatlemania
). Shenson then told Lennon that he needed a theme song for the film.citation
Productionframe|left|U.S. cover of "A Hard Day's Night"
Regardless of who decided on the title, Lennon immediately made up his mind that he would compose the movie's title track. Both Lennon and McCartney
were credited as co-authors, though the two of them did not actually work on their songs together — instead, one would write the majority of the song, and the other would critique it. (In some cases, even when there was no input from the other Beatle, such as on "Yesterday
", both of them would still be credited as authors.) It was a symbiosis
that could be described as friendly competition.citation
Lennon dashed off the song in one night, and brought it in for comments the following morning (the original manuscript lyrics may be seen in the British Library
, scribbled in ballpoint on the back of an old birthday card). As he described in his Playboy
interview, page 148, "...the next morning I brought in the song... 'cuz there was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A-side — who got the hits. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles, in the movies and everything, were mine... in the early period I'm dominating the group.... The reason Paul sang on A Hard Day's Night (in the bridge) is because I couldn't reach the notes."citation
In the Associated Press report, Shenson described his recollection of what happened. At 8:30 in the morning, "There were John and Paul with guitars at the ready and all the lyrics scribbled on matchbook covers. They played it and the next night recorded it." Shenson declared, "It had the right beat and the arrangement was brilliant. These guys were geniuses."citation
During that period of time, The Beatles were being interviewed by reporter Maureen Cleave
's Evening Standard
. Lennon showed Cleave the lyrics, and she suggested to him that the lines "I find my tiredness is through/And I feel alright" sounded weak. Lennon eventually replaced the lines in question with "I find the things that you do/They make me feel alright".
On April 16
, The Beatles gathered at Studio 2 of the Abbey Road Studios
and recorded "A Hard Day's Night". It took them less than three hours to polish the song for its final release, eventually selecting the ninth take as the one to be released.citation
"A Hard Day's Night" was first released to the United States, coming out on June 13
on the album A Hard Day's Night
, the soundtrack to the film, and released by United Artists
. The album was a hit, selling a million copies in just four days.citation
"A Hard Day's Night" was the first Beatles single released in the UK to not use a pronoun in its title. On all of their previous British singles ("Love Me
Do," "Please Please Me
," "From Me
Want to Hold Your Hand," and "Can't Buy Me
Love"), the group had intentionally relied on the use of a pronoun to make a song "very direct and personal," so that, according to Paul McCartney, "people can identify...with it."citation
The United Kingdom first heard "A Hard Day's Night" when it was released there on July 10
, both on the album A Hard Day's Night
, and as a single, backed with "Things We Said Today" on the B-side. Both the album and single were released by Parlophone Records
. The album proceeded to sell 1.5 million copies within a fortnight of its release. The single began charting on July 18
, a week later ousting the Rolling Stones
' "It's All Over Now" from the top spot on the British charts on July 25
, coincidentally the day when both the American and British albums too hit the peak of their respective charts. The single stayed on top for three weeks, and lasted another nine weeks in the charts afterwards.citation
America first saw the single of "A Hard Day's Night" on July 13
, featuring "I Should Have Known Better" on the B-side, and released by Capitol Records
. Capitol had been in a quandary about cashing in on the success of the movie A Hard Day's Night
, as United Artists held the publishing rights for the soundtrack (thus owning the rights to release the album of the same title). However, there was nothing preventing Capitol from releasing the songs in other forms, leading to six out of the seven songs from the movie's soundtrack coming out on singles.citation
The American single began its 13-week chart run on five days after release, and on August 1 started a two-week long run at the top, setting a new record—nobody before had ever held the number one position on both the album and singles charts in the United Kingdom and the United States at the same time. The Beatles were the first to do so, and continued to be the only ones who had done this until 1970 when Simon and Garfunkel
achieved the same feat with their album Bridge Over Troubled Water
and its title track. "A Hard Day's Night" went on to sell one million copies in America within just over five weeks.citation
After The Beatles had performed on The Ed Sullivan Show
when they first came to America in early 1964, some American critics had dismissed them as one-hit wonders. "A Hard Day's Night" proved them wrong, as it only strengthened The Beatles' dominance of the world music scene in 1964. They would continue to feature prominently for the next six years until their disbanding in 1970.citation
In 1965, "A Hard Day's Night" won The Beatles the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group
. It was later ranked #153 on Rolling Stone
's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
"A Hard Day's Night" is immediately identifiable before the vocals even begin, thanks to George Harrison
's unmistakable Rickenbacker
's opening chord. The exact chord
played by Harrison has been the subject of contention. According to Walter Everett
(2001: 236-37), the opening chord has an introductory dominant function because McCartney plays D in the bass; Harrison and Martin play F A C G in twelve-string guitar and piano, over the bass D, giving the chord a mixture-coloured neighbor, F; two diatonic neighbors, A and C; plus an anticipation of the tonic, G — the major subtonic as played on guitar being a borrowed chord
commonly used by The Beatles, first in "P.S. I Love You" (see mode mixture
), and later in "Every Little Thing", "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Got to Get You into My Life" (in the latter two against a tonic pedal
Contrastingly, Alan W. Pollack (http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/ahdn.html
) interprets the chord as a surrogate dominant (surrogate V, the dominant preparing or leading to the tonic chord), in G major the dominant being D, with the G being an anticipation
that resolves in the G major chord that opens the verse. He also suggests it is a mixture of d minor, F major, and G major (missing the B). Tony Bacon (2000: 5) calls it a Dm7sus4 (D F G A C), which is the dominant seventh (plus the fourth, G). For more information regarding chord functions see diatonic function.
Everett (2001: 109) points out that the chord relates to the Beatles' interest in pandiatonic
Dominic Pedler (2003) has also provided an interpretation of the famous chord, with The Beatles and George Martin playing the following:
Fadd9 in 1st position on 12-string electric guitar
Fadd9 in 1st position on a 6-string acoustic guitar
high D played on the D-string, 12th fret on electric bass
D2-G2-D3 played on a Steinway Grand Piano
Subtle snare drum and ride cymbal
This gives the notes: G-B-D-F-A-C
(the B is a harmonic). One of the interesting things about this chord (as described by Pedler) is how McCartney's high bass note reverberates inside the soundbox of Lennon's acoustic guitar and begins to be picked up on Lennon's microphone
during the sounding of the chord. This gives the chord its special "wavy" and unstable quality. Pedler describes the effect as a "virtual pull-off
Jason Brown, Professor for the Faculty of Computer Science
at Dalhousie University
, whose research interests include graph theory
, and combinatorial algorithm
s, announced in October 2004 that after six months of reseach he succeeded in analyzing the opening chord by "de-composing the sound into original frequencies, using a combination of computer software and old-fashioned chalkboard." According to Brown, the Rickenbacker guitar wasn't the only instrument used. "It wasn't just George Harrison playing it and it wasn't just The Beatles playing on it... There was a piano in the mix." To be exact, he claims that Harrison was playing the following notes on his 12 string guitar: a2, a3, d3, d4, g3, g4, c4, and another c4; McCartney played a d3 on his bass; producer George Martin was playing d3, f3, d5, g5, and e6 on the piano, while Lennon played a loud c5 on his six-string guitar.
Music and lyrics
The song is composed in the key of G major
and in a 4/4 time signature
, though Richard Middleton (1990) describes G as the dominant in the key of C major
. The verse features the ♭VII or major subtonic chord that was a part of the opening chord as an ornament or embellishment below the tonic. The modal frame
of the song though pentatonic
features a ladder of thirds
axially centered on G with a ceiling note of Bb and floor note of Eb (the low C being a passing tone
) (Middleton 1990, p.203):550px|A Hard Day's Night Melody
According to Middleton (ibid, p.201) the song has "a deep kinship with typical blues melodic structures: it is centered on three of the notes of the minor-pentatonic mode (Eb-G-Bb), with the contradictory major seventh (B♮) set against that. Morever, the shape
assumed by these notes - the modal frame
- as well as the abstract scale they represent, is revealed, too; and this - an initial, repeated circling round the dominant (G), with an excursion to its minor third (Bb), 'answered' by a fall to the 'symmetrical' minor third of the tonic (Eb) - is a common pattern in blues."
Lennon opens the twelve measure-long verse
and carries it along, suddenly joined at the end by McCartney, who then sings the bridge
. This represented a division of work which would feature prominently in future Beatles songs, with Lennon and McCartney each singing the parts they composed individually. This also made it easier to identify the individual styles of each composer, as McCartney was often the one with more upbeat lyrics, while Lennon's would be in a more cynical tone.
However, in his interview with Playboy
, Lennon denied that McCartney's authorship of the bridge was the reason that he sang it: "The only reason he sang on 'A Hard Day's Night' was because I couldn't reach the notes. ...which is what we'd do sometimes. One of us couldn't reach a note but he wanted a different sound, so he'd get the other to do the harmony."
The instrumental break
, is often credited to George Harrison on a 12 string. This is not necessarily so. The break may have been played by George Martin on a harpsichord (the notes are two octaves apart, another clue that it may not be a 12 string guitar).
The song closes with Harrison's guitar-playing fading out, the first time The Beatles had used such a technique — most, if not all, of their earlier work had closed with a final chord (and cadence
), such as "She Loves You
" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand
The actual lyrics speak about the singer's undying devotion to his lover, and how he toils so she can purchase the items she fancies. The singer sings about his tiredness when he comes home from work, but how the things that his lover does perk him up.
listen|filename=beatles hard days night.ogg|title=A Hard Day's Night|description=Sample of "A Hard Day's Night", performed by The Beatles.|format=
Other recordingsPeter Sellers
recorded a comedy version of the song "A Hard Day's Night", in which he recited the lyrics in the style of Laurence Olivier
's Richard III
. Sellers' version was a UK Top 20 hit in 1965.Billy Joel
recorded the song and it was released on his Complete Hits
album and My Lives
, his ultimate collection.Sugarcult
recorded the song for a EP A Hard Day's NightBeatallica
recorded a thrash version of this song called "A Garage Dayz Nite", with some references to Metallica's songs (coz when I see you, it's nice to play you "Trapped Under Ice"
or wherever I may roam, the road becomes my bride
), and other bands like Scorpions
(and it kicks ass just to hear you say, when you don't want Love at First Sting
*Bacon, Tony (2000). Fuzz & Feedback : Classic Guitar Music of the 60's
. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-612-2.
*http://www.beatles.com/ The Beatles official website
. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2004.
*Campbell, Mary. (Jul. 1, 1996). http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/07-96/07-01-96/c02ae072.htm Restored 'Hard Day's Night,' 'Help!' part of AMC festival
. Associated Press
*http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/media/dailyshow/2004-10-15-aih2.ram CBC radio. As It Happens — broadcast of October 15th, 2004
. Jason Brown's research on the opening chord. To hear the story, listen 12'35" into the broadcast.
*Everett, Walter (2001). The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul
. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514104-0.
*Marck, J. http://www.iamthebeatles.com/article1164.html I Am The Beatles
. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2004.
*Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music
. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
*Miles, Barry (1998). The Beatles: A Diary
. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6315-0.
*Pedler, Dominic (2003). The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles
. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8167-1.
*Shaw, T. (2001). http://website.lineone.net/~johnpaulgeorgeringo/book3.htm Every Little Thing We Said Today
. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2004.
*Unterberger, R. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:q690s355a3mg AMG
. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2004.
1. McCartney quoted in Bob Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography,
(New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005), 385.
*http://www.beatles.com/ The Beatles official website
*http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/ahdn.html Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "A Hard Day's Night"
| before = "Rag Doll
" by The Four Seasons
| title = Billboard Hot 100 number one single
| years = August 1
| after = "Everybody Loves Somebody
" by Dean Martin
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