‘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.
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.
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.
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
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The initial idea for ‘Eight Days A Week’ came from McCartney, 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!’
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
By the time we came to the session, John and I could play it on acoustic guitars for George, Ringo, George Martin, and the engineer. None of them had ever heard it before. John and I were the only two who knew it, but within twenty minutes we’d all learnt it.
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 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.
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 1964.
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 on 28 March 1965 during their final 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.
John sings lead (double-tracked) and Paul sings harmony. George does not sing in this recording.