Eight Days A Week

Beatles For Sale album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 6, 18 October 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 4 December 1964 (UK), 15 February 1965 (US)

John Lennon: lead vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar, handclaps
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass, handclaps
George Harrison: lead guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: drums, handclaps

Available on:
Beatles For Sale
Anthology 1

Eight Days A Week was written as a potential title song for The Beatles' second film. In the end it became an album track on Beatles For Sale, although Capitol released it as a US single in February 1965.

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I think we wrote this when we were trying to write the title song for Help! because there was at one time the thought of calling the film Eight Arms To Hold You.
John Lennon
Hit Parader, April 1972

John Lennon later voiced his dissatisfaction with Eight Days A Week, framing it negatively along with the film.

Help! as a film was like Eight Days A Week as a record for us. A lot of people liked the film, and a lot of people liked that record. But neither was what we wanted - we knew they weren't really us. We weren't ashamed of the film, but close friends knew that the picture and Eight Days weren't our best. They were both a bit manufactured.
John Lennon

Its relegation to the album occurred once John Lennon came up with I Feel Fine, the riff of which he toyed with several times during the main recording session for Eight Days A Week.

Eight Days A Week was the running title for Help! before they came up with Help. It was Paul's effort at getting a single for the movie. That luckily turned to Help! which I wrote, bam! bam!, like that and got the single. Eight Days A Week was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I'm not sure. But it was lousy anyway
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Although principally sung by Lennon, the initial idea for Eight Days A Week came from McCartney. He had the idea for the title following a remark from his chauffeur.

I remember writing that with John, at his place in Weybridge, from something said by the chauffeur who drove me out there. John had moved out of London. to the suburbs. I usually drove myself there, but the chauffeur drove me out that day and I said, 'How've you been?' - 'Oh, working hard,' he said, 'working eight days a week.' I had never heard anyone use that expression, so when I arrived at John's house I said, 'Hey, this fella just said, "eight days a week".' John said, 'Right - "Ooh I need your love, babe..." and we wrote it. We were always quick to write. We would write on the spot. I would show up, looking for some sort of inspiration; I'd either get it there, with John, or I'd hear someone say something.

John and I were always looking for titles. Once you've got a good title, if someone says, 'What's your new song?' and you have a title that interests people, you are halfway there. Of course, the song has to be good. If you've called it I Am On My Way To A Party With You, Babe, they might say, 'OK...' But if you've called it Eight Days A Week, they say, 'Oh yes, that's good!'

Paul McCartney

Curiously, McCartney had previously remembered the quote as coming from Ringo Starr.

Linda McCartney: Ringo also said, 'Eight days a week.'
Paul: Yeah, he said it as though he were an overworked chauffeur: [Heavy accent] 'Eight days a week.' When we heard it, we said, 'Really? Bing! Got it!'

In the studio

Initially recorded on 6 October 1964 with a harmonised vocal introduction, Eight Days A Week went through a series of changes before the band settled on the final arrangement. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn described the song's development in his book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.

Take one was played straight, no frills, on acoustic guitar. On take two John and Paul introduced a succession of beautifully harmonised 'Ooohs', climbing up the scale, to precede the first guitar strum. On take three they merged the two ideas, 'Ooohs' and acoustic guitar. On take four the 'Ooohs' were altered to remain on the same pitch throughout rather than climbing the register. Take five incorporated 'Ooohs' at the end as well as the beginning. Take six took the shape of the released version but did not have the faded intro or outro.
Mark Lewisohn
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions

A sequence taken from takes one, two and four from the 6 October session was included on Anthology 1, along with the complete take five - which ends with a vocal harmony passage.

The Beatles added a succession of overdubs and edits to take six; these were numbered takes 7-13. Two further edit pieces, for the song's beginning and ending, were recorded on 18 October, although the first of these was never used.

Eight Days A Week was the first pop song to feature a faded-in introduction. This was completed during a mixing session on 27 October.

Chart success

Although Eight Days A Week was a huge hit in America, The Beatles evidently didn't rate the song highly, for they never played it live - although they did mime to it during an appearance on the television programme Thank Your Lucky Stars.

The US single was released on 15 February 1965, with I Don't Want To Spoil The Party on the b-side. It entered the top 40 on 27 February, and remained at number one for a fortnight. Altogether the single spent nine weeks in the top 40.

28 responses on “Eight Days A Week

  1. McLerristarr

    Paul’s chauffeur comments are curious. But, of course, we all know The Beatles often remembered things wrong later on. Perhaps it was Ringo sounding like a chauffeur and Paul remembered it wrong later that it was a real chauffeur. Or perhaps it was a real chauffeur and Linda got it wrong so Paul just went along with it so he didn’t make her look dumb. I think it’s the latter. Who knows?

          1. T7ou

            I saw a movie (released in June of 1964) recently called, “For Those Who Think Young” and was struck by the fact that the line, “eight days a week” was used in passing. Just seemed interesting that the future title of a Beatles song appeared in a popular (and rather silly) movie that was released before John or Paul heard the line from the chauffeur (I assume). Maybe the driver had seen the movie and hijacked the line himself! …just a thought….

    1. Mbook

      I tend to think Paul just didn’t want to correct Linda, or simply misremembered. It’s funny seeing these little thrown-off comments endlessly quoted and picked apart, because of course to them when they’re saying it, they’re not thinking of it as the inspired word of the Beatles, they’re just talking and trying to remember and probably not caring that much if it’s exactly accurate or not.

  2. Bill

    It’s been mentioned that this song was the first to feature a fade-in intro. Actually, I believe that the first one was Johnny Horton’s rockabilly classic “The Wild One” from 1958, unless somebody knows of one earlier than that…

  3. Daniel

    Well, Paul opened up his first show of the current tour with 8 Days A Week. I guess The Beatles played the song live ONCE, which brings me here. I was trying to see if there was any existent audio of it.

  4. David

    This song and Every Little Thing is a classic example of my frustration of under estimating Paul . Clearly he wrote both songs. Clearly he duets with John. When they blend there voices on the melody, It does sound like one singer.Usually John because he has the raspier voice.

  5. Richard Boene

    I second David’s comment. I would also like to add that by my observations McCartney’s vocal sounds clearer on the stereo version of the song when he’s singing in unison with Lennon than on the mono version. I would suggest the editor of this page listen to the vocals carefully on the stereo version and reconsider McCartney’s vocal role on the song even if (s)he ultimately disagrees with me.

  6. Chris

    Lennon is mistaken in his remembrance of the working title for Help! It wasn’t “Eight Days A Week,” it was “Eight Arms To Hold You.” This is borne out by the fact that on the “Ticket To Ride” single issued by Capitol Records in America, the song is referenced on the label as being “From the United Artists Release, Eight Arms To Hold you.”

  7. Eric

    Was the Anthology version the single in US??? that because I’ve heard a billboard compilation of that year and the song featured there wasn’t the song of Beatles for sale… instead it was the Anthology version.

  8. BeatleBug

    I wish they’d kept the “oooooh” intro and outro of the earlier takes, it’s even more Beatle-ful with John’s and Paul’s blended voices. When I play this song, I always start and finish with the “ooooooh”s.
    Either way though, this song makes me happy. Anybody else here squeal “I love this song!” for the billionth time every time they hear it?

  9. Fred Ceballos

    I always found it interesting how John regarded some of his songs. He thought this song was bad, but in my opinion its fantastic. One of many of the Beatles tunes that have a great melody. You can sing it a capella easily, a very catchy melody line. Sing it to my young children all the time.

  10. vonbontee

    I tend to assume that John was thinking primarily of the lyrics, which are indeed pretty terrible. But the track’s so infectious and swaggering and shimmering that they’re easily overlooked. Great song title too.

  11. Biased John Lennon fan

    The song is a 50/50 collaboration
    McCartney’s idea. John sings in unison with himself in the verses, this is espcially apparent in the first “hold me, love me”.
    Paul is only on harmony on “Eight days a week!” And the middle eight. George doesn’t sing, though his guitar work is excellent, as it is throughout the entire Beatles For Sale album

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