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A Day In The Life
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22 February 2023
1.43am
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Neely
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“The ‘Ahhh’ part is Paul.”

Lets not do this debate again.  

 

Edit: I read this over and I realized it sounds mean. It was said in jest!

22 February 2023
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sigh butterfly
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I always thought the song’s title referenced Paul’s part. Without it, I’m not sure A Day In The Life makes sense.

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22 February 2023
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Sea Belt
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sigh butterfly said
I always thought the song’s title referenced Paul’s part. Without it, I’m not sure A Day In The Life makes sense.

  

Paul’s part isn’t really a “day” — it’s just a half hour in the morning, tops.

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22 February 2023
6.59am
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sigh butterfly
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I get your point if you’re looking at the lyrics as presenting a linear narrative. It is said in legend that the whole album represents a hallucinatory dream to spark the 1960s counter culture’s imagination (welcome Summer of Love). A key visual description that brackets the whole thing is Paul going up the the second deck of the bus, smoking and going into a dream; A Day In The Life of a flower child. Lucy, Henry, Rita, silly people, and all the rest await you. a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

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22 February 2023
8.19pm
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Sea Belt
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The 60s cultural Revolution was double-sided so to speak — the new kids experimenting, the older generation’s traditions decomposing. The latter side had been in the air at that point for decades, with experimental music & arts, the avante-garde, etc.  I see this song as expressing as much that latter side in the form of some stodgy middling-class Brit who “rides the Tube” to work (even if it’s a bus, just a detail) undergoing a meltdown of his worldview & zeitgeist.  That’s why earlier I imagined my video using two quintessential British actors to play the parts, Tom Courtenay who was known to be part of a wave of actors called “Angry Young Men” beginning in the early 60s with his The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) and Billy Liar (1963), plus the stodgier James Fox for Paul’s part, the prim & proper, and banal & mediocre bureaucrat off to work, who shows signs of falling apart, because the culture is falling apart, etc.  And part of the character’s food for thought hastening his unraveling is the “news” of a fellow bureaucrat committing suicide by shooting himself in the head in a car at a light.  More broadly, part of the falling apart is the usual cliche of the hypocrisy of the old regime, the “news” indicating “4,000 holes” which though Lennon’s inspiration was just what we Americans call road potholes has a sinister implication of killing fields burials, and “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” indicating the corruption of the higher class who control society, etc.

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23 February 2023
12.32am
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meanmistermustard
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Neely said
“The ‘Ahhh’ part is Paul.”

Lets not do this debate again.  

 

Edit: I read this over and I realized it sounds mean. It was said in jest!

  

John stood on Paul’s toes whilst he was was singing and screamed in shock at the same time, George Martin couldn’t get it off the tape so shoved on echo and some trippy effects. If you listen carefully Ringo is tinkling his teaspoon on the side of his teacup signalling for Mal to bring him a chocolate hobnob.

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"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris)

23 February 2023
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Sea Belt
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If only Paul were still alive so someone could just ask him the bloody question.  Oh wait…

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23 February 2023
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meanmistermustard
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We need to know the story of how he wrote ‘Yesterday ‘.

Moving away from a discussion I shouldn’t be encouraging as it always leads to arguments. 

It always amazes me that this is viewed as quite possibly THE great Beatles song and George is left shaking maracas. Hopefully he inspired ‘The Mask’.

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"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris)

23 February 2023
1.30am
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Sea Belt
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The personnel should have been:

Lennon: piano, vocals

Paul: bass, vocals

George: acoustic guitar

Ringo: drums, bongos

I doubt that Lennon was unable to play the piano part.

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23 February 2023
1.31am
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Sea Belt
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And if Lennon found some of the arpeggios difficult, surely George Martin could step in.

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24 February 2023
6.13am
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sigh butterfly
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Sea Belt said
The 60s cultural Revolution was double-sided so to speak — the new kids experimenting, the older generation’s traditions decomposing. The latter side had been in the air at that point for decades, with experimental music & arts, the avante-garde, etc.  I see this song as expressing as much that latter side in the form of some stodgy middling-class Brit who “rides the Tube” to work (even if it’s a bus, just a detail) undergoing a meltdown of his worldview & zeitgeist.  That’s why earlier I imagined my video using two quintessential British actors to play the parts, Tom Courtenay who was known to be part of a wave of actors called “Angry Young Men” beginning in the early 60s with his The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) and Billy Liar (1963), plus the stodgier James Fox for Paul’s part, the prim & proper, and banal & mediocre bureaucrat off to work, who shows signs of falling apart, because the culture is falling apart, etc.  And part of the character’s food for thought hastening his unraveling is the “news” of a fellow bureaucrat committing suicide by shooting himself in the head in a car at a light.  More broadly, part of the falling apart is the usual cliche of the hypocrisy of the old regime, the “news” indicating “4,000 holes” which though Lennon’s inspiration was just what we Americans call road potholes has a sinister implication of killing fields burials, and “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” indicating the corruption of the higher class who control society, etc.

I enjoyed your post @Sea Belt, thought provoking writing. That would be an interesting video. It’s hard to know for sure where the Beatles were coming from. John says there was no concept at all, just a reprise of the lead song that made it seem so. I actually believe that Paul’s idea all along was to hit the road as the Lonely Hearts Club Band, uniforms and all. John and George may have been forever burned out after the Candlestick Park show, but I think Paul was just bidding his time. After all, he has played the Abbey Road Medley encore note -for-note over 600 times. I can’t imagine John or George even playing it once. Sorry…so if this is a concept album and A Day In The Life represents the intention, what is it? The dark concepts you outline were mostly written by John. Yet a few weeks later he was singing All You Need Is Love for all the world to hear. …and so it goes. I get something out of all the interpretations and still believe “A splendid time is guaranteed for all“. 

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24 February 2023
6.24am
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Sea Belt
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@sigh butterfly 

I think it’s possible, and likely, that John could compartmentalize his efforts, so when he wrote A Day In The Life , he was in that zone and revisited the zone every time he worked on it & rehearsed it and discussed it with Paul etc., and recorded the takes — then when it was done moved on to the next song.  Some larger concept theme would probably be mostly a preoccupation of Paul’s, I imagine, not really impinging on John in any deep way?

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3 March 2023
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Tony Japanese
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The other day I was trying to think of all the examples where another song references the opening lines of this song.

I can remember three, and I did hear another one this week, but I’ve forgotten the song.

David Bowie – Young Americans (“I heard the news today, oh boy”)

Black Grape – Submarine (“You paid the debt today, oh boy”)

Half Man Half Biscuit – Fear My Wraith (“I read the news today, oh boy”)

Can we think of any others?

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9 March 2023
1.28am
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vonbontee
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Seems there’s something else I can vaguely recall, or forget or imagine…a-hard-days-night-george-4  

One other quote I do know of is from 80s hard rocker Billy Squier, who slipped the phrase “a lucky man who made the grade” into a love ballad on his ’81 smash album; there’s a dedication to John’s memory in the lyric sheet.

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GEORGE: In fact, The Detroit Sound. JOHN: In fact, yes. GEORGE: In fact, yeah. Tamla-Motown artists are our favorites. The Miracles. JOHN: We like Marvin Gaye. GEORGE: The Impressions PAUL & GEORGE: Mary Wells. GEORGE: The Exciters. RINGO: Chuck Jackson. JOHN: To name but eighty. 

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17 April 2023
6.32pm
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Ahhh Girl
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I asked ChatGPT who sang the Ahhhs in A Day In The Life . It responded:

The “Ahhhs” in the Beatles’ song “A Day In The Life ” were actually sung by John Lennon , Paul McCartney , and George Martin, the band’s producer. During the recording of the song, they were looking for a way to create a transition between the dreamlike verses and the explosive orchestra section at the end. Lennon suggested they all sing a single note that would gradually build in volume, and that’s how the “Ahhhs” were born. The three of them stood around a single microphone and sang the notes, with Martin conducting them. The result is a haunting, otherworldly sound that perfectly captures the mood of the song.

George Martin! ChatGPT is down-right scary blue-meanie

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17 April 2023
6.43pm
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Richard
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It isn’t even consistent. Here’s the answer ChatGPT gave me:

The “Ahhhs” heard in the middle section of “A Day In The Life ” from The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper ‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band” were sung by John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison , and Mal Evans, their road manager at the time.

The four of them were recorded individually singing a sustained “Ahhh” sound for as long as they could hold it, and then the four recordings were mixed together and played simultaneously to create the choir-like effect.

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And in the end

The love you take is equal to the love you make

 

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17 April 2023
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Sea Belt
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Richard said
It isn’t even consistent. Here’s the answer ChatGPT gave me:

The “Ahhhs” heard in the middle section of “A Day In The Life ” from The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper ‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band” were sung by John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison , and Mal Evans, their road manager at the time.

The four of them were recorded individually singing a sustained “Ahhh” sound for as long as they could hold it, and then the four recordings were mixed together and played simultaneously to create the choir-like effect.

  

Interestingly, I don’t hear a choir effect in the normal recording, but when I listened to an isolated track version, I began to hear what sounded like multiple voices — but they weren’t singing all together in unison, but rather floating around each other, at moments together, other moments out of synch, in a swirl.  But 99.9% of people who heard the song didn’t hear the isolation that enables that.  Somehow it seems the engineering “homogenized” what they were doing and made it sound like, effectively, one voice.  At least that’s how my ears experience it.

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26 June 2023
11.52pm
Illgetyou
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I began to hear what sounded like multiple voices — but they weren’t singing all together in unison, but rather floating around each other,

  

As Paul confirmed when someone DID ask him: “I seem to remember we all did it”.

And there are indeed four different voices, clearly to hear on the isolated track:

Paul – lead aaah

John – high nasal falsetto (exactly the same he uses on “Sexy Sadie “)

George – indifferent low falsetto

Ringo – low octave aaah, unisono with Paul, best audible at the last one.

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27 June 2023
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Illgetyou said

I began to hear what sounded like multiple voices — but they weren’t singing all together in unison, but rather floating around each other,

  

As Paul confirmed when someone DID ask him: “I seem to remember we all did it”.

And there are indeed four different voices, clearly to hear on the isolated track:

Paul – lead aaah

John – high nasal falsetto (exactly the same he uses on “Sexy Sadie “)

George – indifferent low falsetto

Ringo – low octave aaah, unisono with Paul, best audible at the last one.

  

I’d forgotten about “Sexy Sadie ” — that’s a good reference point for similar “ahhhs” from John. 

But how do you know there are 4 distinct voices, and how do you know how to identify each one with each of the Beatles?  For the life of me I can’t make out how many voices there are — much less who’s singing which one.  Not only that, but given that the Beatles routinely taped/tracked over stuff, how can we be sure distinct different voices are live and not tracked over (by the same singer)?

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27 June 2023
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Illgetyou
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I’d forgotten about “Sexy Sadie ” — that’s a good reference point for similar “ahhhs” from John.

No, not at all – it’s a very good reference point for EXACTLY THE SAME high nasal falsetto “ooooohs” in the background.

The “aaaahs” are done in a smooth chest-voice, which John never did and never could have done – in that register.

But how do you know there are 4 distinct voices, and how do you know how to identify each one with each of the Beatles? For the life of me I can’t make out how many voices there are — much less who’s singing which one. Not only that, but given that the Beatles routinely taped/tracked over stuff, how can we be sure distinct different voices are live and not tracked over (by the same singer)?

a) Well, I listened to the isolated track a LOT of times, and of course you immediately hear that there are two different voices, after a few seconds you realize there is a third one, and the low “aaaah” might come to you as the last one after a few listens.

b) Paul said they all did it – so here they ALL are!

c) Who sings what is quite easy: Paul’s part, Paul’s voice, no cut between the “dream” and the “aaah”, so he MUST be doing the “aaah”.
John’s unmistakable high nasal falsetto is, well, unmistakable (ok, NOT for Geoff Emerick or Giles Martin, appearently…), the indifferent lower falsetto must be George, because the low octave “aaah” surely has Ringo’s nasal sound to it – and of course Ringo wouldn’t do a falsetto part!

d) Can’t be the same singer, cause they all sound differently. Why would they record this several times? The lead “aaah” is the only thing you can hear in the mix anyway. And I’m quite sure there’s technical evidence that they were indeed recorded at the same time.

And it doesn’t matter, anyway, because none of the others sound like Paul, and have no reason to do the “aaah” in his place.

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