26 July 2011
Of all the amazing achievements in The Beatles' matchless career, I think this song is the most remarkable.
"A Hard Day's Night" was also proof to the world that The Beatles were bona-fide professional performers, not just the "above-average bar band" that Dick Clark and many others in the American music establishment at the time were writing them off as.
Imagine: The Beatles were at the very apex of Beatlemania -- taking time off their grueling tour schedule to film their first movie, with Lennon & McCartney writing 12 new songs for the album (plus a 13th -- "I Call Your Name" -- for an EP) -- and then John Lennon was taken aside by the producer, Walter Shenson, who says "John we need another song -- it has to be up-tempo -- and it has to be called 'A Hard Day's Night' because that's the name of our movie").
According to Shenson, the next 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. It had the right beat and the arrangement was brilliant. These guys were geniuses."
With little rehearsal and no prior performances, John and Paul took the new song and with George and Ringo -- and George Martin -- they recorded, in three hours, a world-wide number one. George Harrison came up with one of his most memorable guitar performances (augmented by Martin, Lennon & McCartney) -- John and Paul gave their usual strong vocal performances, and Ringo's drumming was excellent (listen to the heavy drum beat he hammers out as Paul wraps up his middle-eight vocal part the second time around, as the song goes into the final verse).
Walter Shenson was right -- these guys were geniuses!
1 November 2012
26 March 2012
I agree. If you condense the Beatles down into their most primal incarnation as a pop band, then A Hard Day's Night is emblematic of their absolute finest early songwriting. A relentlessly driving, melodic, memorable tune with thunderous performances from all vocal and instrumental angles, an intelligent lyric with a title that gently prefigures the surrealism seen in their later work, and also a large step towards some unorthodox and experimental elements that bend the rules of what the 2.5 minute single should be (the opening chord, the jangling fade-out coda that comes out of nowhere). It's easy to tout She Loves You or I Want To Hold Your Hand as the crowning singles of the period, but AHDN is really far more ambitious than either.
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