The clanging chord which opened ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ – the title track of The Beatles’ first film, third album and seventh UK single – remains one of the most iconic moments of their career.
We knew it would open both the film and the soundtrack LP, so we wanted a particularly strong and effective beginning. The strident guitar chord was the perfect launch.
Much has been made of the opening chord of the song. I still don’t know what it is. If you asked me to play it, I couldn’t; I’d have to work it out. I think there may be two chords in there, a G and an F.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
Read more about the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ opening chord.
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’.
While appropriated for the film after Starr’s utterance, it wasn’t a new phrase. It had appeared in John Lennon’s book In His Own Write, published on 23 March 1964, although Lennon always attributed it to his colleague.
There was no reason for Michael to be sad that morning, (the little wretch); everyone liked him, (the scab). He’d had A Hard Day’s Night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower.
In His Own Write, John Lennon
The phrase neatly summed up the frenetic pace of The Beatles’ existence in 1964, going from hotel room to dressing room to stage and back again. When it was seized upon by director Richard Lester for the title of the band’s first film, and announced to the press on 13 April, it left Lennon and McCartney with the task of writing a theme tune to order.
I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title Hard Day’s Night from something Ringo’d said. I had used it in In His Own Write but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringoism, where he said it not to be funny, just said it. So Dick Lester said we are going to use that title, and the next morning I brought in the song. ’Cause there was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A side, who got the hit singles.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Paul McCartney remembered the selection of the title differently in his authorised biography.
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; director Dick Lester, us, Walter Shenson [film producer], Bud Ornstein [European head of production for United Artists] and some other people were sitting around trying to come up with something and we said, ‘Well, there was something Ringo said the other day’… He said after a concert, ‘Phew, it’s been A Hard Day’s Night.’ John and I went, ‘What? What did you just say?’ He said, ‘I’m bloody knackered, man, it’s been A Hard Day’s Night.’ ‘Hard day’s night! Fucking brilliant! How does he think of ’em? Woehayy!’ So that came up in this brain-storming session, something Ringo said, ‘It was A Hard Day’s Night.’
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles