13. A Day in the Life
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
4. Getting Better
8. Within You Without You
2. With a Little Help from My Friends
11. Good Morning Good Morning
10. Lovely Rita
05. Fixing a Hole
09. When I'm Sixty-Four
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
When I saw "A Day in the Life" last in babydoll list I remembered a thing I wrote some years ago in the forum about it. I haven't found it on my computer but I did a research on the web… and I found it! You can read the entire thread here
But here is the question and the answer. A guy named kit hodges asked in 2009 in the old Acclaimed Music Forum: "I've been wondering this for a while. Why is "A Day in the Life" so acclaimed, by both critics and polltakers? I consider myself a relatively casual fan of the Beatles, as they are undeniably overrated, but they do have some absolute epic songs such as Hey Jude, Yesterday, Let it Be, Stawberry Fields Forever, etc. I would never group A Day in the Life in that category. Much of it is little more than a bunch of noise, and the John Lennon-written section is downright depressing. The Paul McCartney part is basically a completely different song, and that is far from his best. At least, this is what I hear with my ears, but perhaps someone can enlighten me."
That's why I wrote these Ten reasons why kit hodges must learn to love “A Day in the Life”, became another pretentious music geek and join our sect
1) The summer of love factor
: during the mid 60s manufacturing ear-pleasing melodies was not longer enough. Musicians simply needed to go further. The expansion of the minds that came with the hippies needed an apt music background. I’m aware how uncool is to praise the hippies now but we must thank them for many things that we enjoy today (in my case I’m afraid that I should better say “enjoyed”) like sexual freedom or drug-induced partying.
2) Silly drug songs
: why singing again about love when you can sing about drugs? “I’d love to turn you on”, “I had a smoke and I went into a dream”. The Beatles were then deeply into LSD and consciously tried to reflect the psychedelic experience in many songs from the period like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” or “Strawberry Fields Forever” (the latter song is the perfect evocation of a trip, evolving from a pastoral beginning to a disjointed sonic end).
3) Nothing you can sing it can’t be sung
: Lennon took almost the complete lyrics from fragments of real news from a newspaper, quoting the death in a car crash of a member of the nobility, the première of the Richard Lester movie “How I Won the War” (starring Lennon itself) and a bizarre fragment about 10,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. The news of today would not be only the movies of tomorrow but even the songs of forever.
4) The Frankestein factor
: how’s that? Do you really think that the Lennon and McCartney pieces don’t hold together well? It’s not my opinion at all, the solemnity of Lennon’s part contrasts beautifully with the faux simplicity of Macca’s part, with interesting tricks like maintaining the doubling of the tempo when the Lennon part returns. And, oh my, what a transition!!
5) Merry melodies
: with all my respects, kit, and what if that melody sounds depressing? I find amazing that such a sad melody is written using mainly major chords (G, C, F) and particularly the ending the melody on the line “about a lucky man who made the grade” in B is really inspiring. Do you really think that a happier melody could have made a better song?
6) Drumming is my madness
: it’s hard to find a better drum part in the whole Ringo career that the one in “A Day in the Life” (well, maybe “Rain” too). Knowing that the rhythm was tightly maintained by the bass and the shakers Ringo could play a loose drum beat relying mainly on the toms and with the exact amount of ornaments.
: my favourite moment of the whole Beatles catalogue is that one at 2:51 when, just after McCartney went into a dream a voice from Lennon immersed in echo and reverb comes out of nowhere and slowly it goes away and away while the orchestral backing builds from the silence, ending with some epic brass notes. 30 seconds of pleasure.
8) Orchestral noises
: Martin wrote probably the most bizarre score ever for a 41-member classical orchestra: only the lowest tone of the instrument at the beginning and the highest note at the end of the 24 bars, with a line joining the two notes. Lennon even requested for “a sound like the end of the world”. Actually sounded like a new beginning
9) Odds and ends
: a triple ending of both the song and the album, first the famous final chord played by three of them simultaneously lasting for 45 seconds, secondly the whistle (supposedly only audible by dogs although I can listen to it) and finally the famous “inner groove” (I jumped in fright the first time I listened to Sgt. Pepper’s, previously I knew only the version from the “Blue Album”).
10) The context, the concept
: SR summarized perfectly: “After the hallucinatory trip that is Sgt. Peppers, I couldn't imagine a better finale”. The Beatles were the most popular band during the 60s (no one can deny this, isn’t it?) but, most significantly, they felt the need to be also the best, they tried to write songs with deep and poetic lyrics like Dylan, with complex structures like The Beach Boys and with sheer power like The Rolling Stones. Listening to ADITL I can tell that they’re succeeded.
I endorse two YouTube videos. First of all the video with images of the famous Abbey Road session with the orchestra, you can see the classical musicians with strange glasses and phallic masks “conducted” by a Paul McCartney dressed with an apron. You can find entertaining trying to indentify the celebrities from the Swinging London. I’ve identified Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Donovan Leitch, Michael Nesmith or Patti Harrison. Enjoy…
And the bizarre “Sgt. Pepper’s Inner Groove” (or “Never Could Be Any One” if you like)
Well, kit, I don’t know if you’re still around but (with all my respects again) I must say that it is precisely the depressing tone of Lennon part, the orchestral noises and the ability of reproducing the “sounds as if someone is on drugs” that makes the song so great. Or at least to my eyes (and ears).
In fact if your arguments had been “the song is bland” or “too simple” or something like that I probably would have said nothing. But the fact that a youngster like you (well, I’m supposing that you are young, are you?) could find the song bizarre, strange or depressing stimulates me a lot, to me it explains why the Beatles legacy is still relevant and consistent. If passion for music for you lasts on you (and not fades away with age like many of my friends) I’m sure you will connect with a much wider variety of sounds, even the weirdest ones. There’s much more to music than pushing the overdrive pedal.
With love and affection
A pretentious music geek