Hard Day’s Night

Hard Day’s Night

And now on Juke Box Jury, for the first time anywhere in the world, with the title song from their new movie, it’s The Beatles with Hard Day’s Night.

David Jacobs looked at us with his smarmy smile, my attention focused on the screen as he prepared to play the new single and you knew, you just knew he’d already heard it; unlike us…

CHNNGGHH

The magical incantation of the multi-layered opening chord of the record grabbed my attention lifting me right off the floor. I was watching telly in the living room of our house in Yorkshire as the BBC played for the first time for me, and the whole nation, the new Beatles single; it was live and it was an event. As it’s opening reverberations pricked up my ears Lennon spat out “it’s binna” and the rest of the boys immediately kicked in, hitting the loping relentlessness of the song right from the off. Three seconds in the set up was complete and I was hooked by its unique infinitely vertical single-chord overture.

It’s been a hard day’s night,

Woah, two seconds later and the curiously familiar title “Hard Day’s Night” cocked your brain for something different; here they go playing with our expectations again…

and I’ve been working like a dog

The boys have been working like dogs! Ringo’s rattling along there again, isn’t he? And George’s guitars are; where are Georges guitars? There’s a lot of rhythm in this, a lot of rhythm, in fact it’s all rhythm. Where are the guitars? This is different, very different, it’s…

It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

And Lennon does sound just like he’s stopped work at the end of a hard day. There’s a confiding casualness in his delivery that lets us know that, but also invites us to share his travails as though we were his mates. OK John, I’m listening now.

After the strangely disappointing cultural impact, but already reliable quality, of Can’t Buy Me Love, somehow anti-climactic after the non-stop build up of Beatlemania throughout the Autumn and Christmas of 1963, Hard Day’s Night sounded fresh and original; again! It was as though after dominating Pop, and with Top of the Pops being created to keep up with the beat boom they spearheaded, Can’t Buy Me Love, was treading water; “just” another million-selling Beatles single. Mind you I first heard it in the conservatory as I was checking the Hoovermatic, not the most exciting place to experience The Beatles. And where could you go once you were the Top of the Pops? Dave loved it though; it had a real guitar solo in the middle unlike this rhythmic mystery.

But when I get home to you I find the things that you do

There they go, those sublime group harmonies, but not right from the top this time, little vocal jewels studding the song, but now in new settings.

Will make me feel alright

And the things that they do will make me feel alright.

You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things

Juke Box Jury was a mad concept because if you got a great song like Hard Days Night you spent two and half minutes looking at boring people moving their heads to show that they were listening to the song and thinking hard; as if they knew about Pop Music! I closed my eyes and listened for myself.

And it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re gonna give me everything

What would you like for supper boys?

Beans on toast Mum.

Beans on toast? After football? Are you sure that is all you want John?

Yes Mum, Beans on toast will be fine thank you.

Why’s that then? Oh, let me guess! The telly?

It’s Juke Box Jury Mum, that’s not telly!

We were only allowed to see a certain number of TV programmes each week and Top of the Pops and Juke Box Jury were the big ones. Thank Your Lucky Stars and Ready Steady Go! were out of reach for us, they were for teenagers and it was only three weeks since I had reached thirteen. Dave was even younger so we watched what we allowed to and didn’t count our shows as “telly’. We had to ask to watch “telly”. Top of The Pops was really great, easily the best show on, but Juke Box Jury was a bit hit or miss.

Is that OK with you Dave?

Yes Mum, Beans on toast is my favourite.

Well, sausage, chips and beans is my favourite!

Not on a Saturday it isn’t.

It is when we are on holiday!

On holiday, not on a Saturday!

OK you two! Beans on toast it is.

Can we to eat it in the lounge please Mum? They are going to play The Beatles new record on Juke Box Jury.

Are you sure they are playing The Beatles, John? Have they got a new record already?

Yes Mum, Brian Matthews announced it on Saturday Club this morning. First time anywhere in the world!

Well if you must watch it then, okay. But I’ll watch it with you two as well. Go and turn the telly on and I’ll bring the trays through in a few minutes.

Oh thanks Mum!

I grabbed the kitchen door and we rushed into the front room taking our places in front of the telly. Dad spent most of last year making sure I missed The Beatles on telly until their Royal Variety Show performance in November, even though we had Granada! He hated them but after that accepted that they meant something, so we were allowed to watch them, and of course Mum enjoyed watching them too. So it was that we were eating beans on toast in front of the telly, watching The Beatles and drinking coffee; 1964 was turning into a very good year.

So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone

They’ve perfected those double choruses haven’t they Mum, all of the song is catchy, you can’t help liking it.

Do you like this one then John?

MUM! Sshh! It’s The Beatles!

You know I feel okay

This is their best yet, what do you think Dave?

Dave just looked at me; he was listening.

When I’m home everything seems to be right

Ah the cow bell, more percussion! That’s Ringo, he’s getting really good, and Paul, lovely Paul making the chorus work with his conciliatory contrasts. Lifting it up and driving it on, little inventions on every line.

When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah

Oh I see what they are doing! This time the music is driving the song instead of the vocals. This is just as forceful as their earlier stuff but it’s more about the music. Now they know we’re listening to them they aren’t desperately trying to hook us in with the urgent vocals like last year.

********

It’s been a hard day’s night,

yelled Dave

and I’ve been working like a dog

I yelled back

Dave shouted out the chorus of the title and I gave him the response, we were the Phil and Don of the Beatles harmonising breathlessly and gulping in the night air. We had run out of the cinema like Two Beatles rushing for the safety of our waiting car, running across the car park of the Odeon in Harrogate as though it was Marylebone Train Station and Beatlemaniacs were on our heels

It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

Others were running out of the cinema doing exactly as we were, recreating Beatlemania only this time we were Beatles not their hapless fans.

But when I get home to you I find the things that you do

But none of us wanted to go home, we were fuelled by the non-stop excitement of the film; even films were changing now, last year Summer Holiday, this year Hard Days Night; we were all pop stars now.

Will make me feel alright

Wow what a film, what a way to start the summer holidays, feeding us fantasies of being Beatles ourselves…

Owwww!!

What’s that, what is that? A piano, it’s a high pitched piano. Dave won’t be happy without guitars in the middle break. But they thunder through that as though they want to re-invent all our histories.

So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone

What a great film, what a fab film! What did you think Dave?

Great! I liked the bits with The Beatles in the recording studio where we could see them playing their guitars. Better than the radio and Juke Box Jury!

You know I feel okay

The film had transformed us into Beatles. We weren’t like fans in the film banging on car windscreens in Dionysiac desperation just so we could touch our four Mr Apollo’s; no, we had been there with them experiencing the exhilarating boredom that characterized their fabsome life.

When I’m home everything seems to be right

Everything seems to be right, how do The Beatles deliver, promise, deliver anew and then do something new which seems to create new promises. A multi-coloured promise of happiness delivered in a black and white film.

When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah!

I think that’s the best film I’ve ever seen, I think it’s even better than Dunkirk or Ben Hur

Mmm

Lennon confidently received the pass from McCartney as they head for the final lap and another world record. They’re sitting on top of the music passing asides to us instead of desperately pleading with us, syllable by syllable, to listen to them.

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog

I thought you liked Come September best?

I liked that coz it had a Rolls Royce convertible in it of course!

But you said that Multiplication was your favourite song in films.

Yeah, it was, but it was only one song. Summer Holiday was much better because it had loads of songs, but Hard Days Night is all songs, all great Beatles songs.

I kept waiting for the coloured bits to start!

Yeah, that would have been good, but they didn’t need colour did they? It was all good bits!

All good guitar music!

Yeah!

It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

Tonight we would be Beatle Brothers; we would go home and sleep in our bunks whilst millions of fans wondered how they could find us. Bliss!

But when I get home to you I find the things that you do

Go Dad go, before the fans get us!

What fans? What are you talking about John?

Beatlemaniacs Dad! And girls, thousands of girls are after us, go, go, go!

Will make me feel alright

John don’t be silly. No fighting in the back now you two.

You know I feel alright

So what did you boys think of the film?

It’s just the best film there has ever been Mum! You must go and see it.

How do they do it? How do they do what they do to me? I wish I knew; this wasn’t just the soundtrack to my youth this was my youth. And now I had been there with them and they were my friends; like older brothers who’d survived teenage and had grown up and learnt how to deal with the world on their terms and make jokes about how silly it all is. They must have been really good at school; I wish I was as witty as them and could make grotty things beautiful.

I’m really glad I told Dinky that the Beatles didn’t have to be at the top of the charts for me to know that they were the best. The Bachelors are hopeless compared to them, what does he see in them?

The next time a Beatles record comes out I am going to buy it on the first day of release, like Tony does, like a real Beatles fan.

Why didn’t Hard Days Night Come out before my birthday? I could have got a copy then, chnngghh!!

You know I feel alright…

Better start now, it will take weeks to save 6/8d!

12 Comments

  1. July 26, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    […] or a three week deadline ahead. The Beatles, almost uniquely, improved under this pressure and Hard Day’s Night, to me actually sounds better now and worth listening to all the way through, with classic tracks […]

  2. August 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    […] Working Like A Dog HARD DAY’S NIGHT […]

  3. Russ said,

    August 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Now here’s a question:

    How do The Beatles deliver, promise, deliver anew and then do something new which seems to create new promises. A multi-coloured promise of happiness delivered in a black and white film.

    How did they do it? What was the secret of creativity? Many seem to construct Lennon as the lone genius at the centre who somehow pulled the others up and along with him. But this seems far too simplistic. A sociocultural approach to this question would no doubt emphasize the convergence of a range of contextual factors so here’s a stab.

    Paul, John and George all bought their own personalities / experiences to the mix. But maybe they also stimulated, inspired and challenged each other to constantly innovate. The fact that they didn’t have a clearly defined front man / singer / song writer seems highly significant. It seems they didn’t have a clearly demarcated roles / division of labour when it came to producing. All drew creatively upon the others and upon the talents of those around them (including producers) to stimulate the creative process.

    On a wider cultural level the early 60’s seemed like a period of rapid hybridisaton facilitated by the importation of diverse cultural influences through the mediums of Radio and Television. Like few other bands the Beatles seemed open to drawing upon a diversity of influences from the Blues to Rafi Shanka. Thus an certain willingness to expose one self to and experiment with to diverse influences seems part of the secret. The same might be said of their interest in experimenting with drugs and transcendental meditation and the antiwar movement. However, if their originality owed something to their capacity to locate themselves at the nexus of a rich cultural milleux – would it have been noticed had they not also embraced and experimented with the emerging media forms of the day? As this chapter illustrates so well, I’m interested in the fact that their rise coincided with the widespread adoption of audio-visual media. Whilst their musical technique was clearly crafted through playing live in Cavern and Hamburg to real audiences They were one of the first bands in history who had the capacity to project and broadcast to a national and later global audience through Television. Today we often celebrate the capacity of an lone individual to publish to a potentially global audience via a blog and people often discuss how access to a real audience motivates young bloggers and provides a critical feedback loop. But this chapters makes me wonder how the possibility of performing live to a national audience – and the knowledge of the cultural impact they might have – must of provided a motivation for the fab four to perform, create and constantly reinvent themselves as a cultural product. From their ealiest days they were more than musicians. They were actors in an on going spectacle / performance and all the world was quite literally their stage. Can you imagine a Beatles without the surreal art and profussion of colour in the Yellow Submarine, or the performance of ‘All you need is love’ at the opening of the BBC’s first global broadcast? I’m not saying that Television created the Beatles. However, it afforded opportunities – perhaps even demanded that they constantly reinvent themselves and their sound in surprizing and unexpected ways. Thus maybe the emergence of the Beatles as a visual phenomenon also re-mediated the emergence of the Beatles as a musical phenomenon. Had they remained playing in live in the Cavern would they have evolved musically to the same degree. It seems unlikely. Indeed, perhaps their decision to stop playing live and focus on studio recordings and television events was in fact essential to the creative growth of the band.

  4. fred6368 said,

    August 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    great post,
    Have a look at my “Unbutchered” review, which tries to argue that their collaborative qualities reach new heights in their mid-period, which then lead on to their work that is usually accepted as classic.
    http://jpgringo2.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/unbutchered/

    Also a useful post as I was thinking of doing some posts after the album reviews are finished along the lines of “what the Beatles taught me about learning” One thing I have noticed from writing the stories is that I always had a “bad boy” friend and a “swot” friend, and lived in the tension between their drives.

  5. Russ said,

    August 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Fred,

    Thanks for that. Makes for very interesting reading. Quite an education. I had little knowledge of ‘Unbutchered’ beforehand. Are you writing all of this?
    Also like the thesis. Very interested in the way you emphasize Paul’s role in the process. Clearly comes through in Yesterday. Could make for a fascinating paper on creative collaborations.

    Your comments about living off the tension between your ‘bad boy’ / ‘swot’ friends puts me in mind of Nietzche’s distinction between the Apollonian and the Dionysian in the Birth of Tragedy. The Apollonian provides harmony and balance, but left to its own devices is stagnation and death. The Dionysian is a source of creative energy, but left to its own devices is chaos and anarchy. The trick is to find an equilibrium between the two. My personal preference has always been to worship of the idol of Dionysus but I’m always in need of an Apollonian counter balance – else I’m constantly going off on tangents. Maybe we’re the same in that respect. Whatever, I’ve always thought the distinction provides an interesting way to think about creative ecologies and how we create or position ourselves within one. I get the sense you found it by locating yourself between the ‘bad boy’ and ‘swot’ friend. I wonder how it played out for John, Paul, George and Ringo? And what happened when Yoko came on the scene?

    Russ

  6. fred6368 said,

    August 18, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Unbutchered doesnt exist. I was representing their tracks in terms of their logical consistency. Most reviews of Rubber Soul say that this is the album where The Beatles matured, but I want to make the case that they had a mid-period where Lennon’s lyrics started to mature, Paul’s songwriting improved and George offered more creativity. There was more collaborative creativity across their albums from Hard Days Night. I think there is something in their mix of characters and abilities that was special. I think Lennon’s strength was that he wasn’t intimidated by form, Paul wasn’t intimidated by melody, George wasn’t intimidated by instrumentation and Rringo wasn’t intimidated by rhythm; so anything was possible whenn they worked together,,,…

  7. fred6368 said,

    November 5, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Hi Russ,
    you make interesting points about technology, creativity and mass society. I didn’t pick up on the technology dimension. In Perfecting Sound Forever it is pointed out that two track recording was not originally for stereo, technical belief at the time was that you needed 3 tracks for stereo to create a sound stage, it was for engineering redundancy. The studio work with Martin’s “bouncing”, and Geoff Emerick’s tape play, allowed the Beatles to maximise technical affordances and play with sound even before they played with the studio. There is a great line in Poirier about their fascination with the “invented” aspects, perhaps making sense of the world through auto-didactically. So a lot happened technologically during the sixties that I haven’t picked up on yet. But until 1967 they always got a More Able Partner (was Astrid Kirchherr the first?) who pushed them on and they got Dick Lester on Hard Days Night who was also a Goons fan. Were the Goons the real creative genius’s behind the Fabs? TBC

  8. February 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Love your writing, it’s the greatest! Please check out my blog about classic rock, and Badfinger, (just search 1977) when you get there. Also, find me on Facebook for lots of Badfinger pictures Brooke Saunders Richmond

    • fred6368 said,

      February 2, 2010 at 9:19 am

      Hey Brooke,
      thanks for the compliment! Very much appreciated :-). Will look up Badfinger as I am just starting writing about the Beatles relationship to them, thanks
      If you like the style of the story you might like my unpublished book which they come from, “63/68 A Visceral History” now fully published for free on SCRIBD;
      http://www.scribd.com/fred6368

  9. May 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    […] its vocabulary, grammar and timbres. And then came Hard Days Night, the first single I personally heard the first time it was played. Phoney Beatlemania had bitten the dust and real Beatlemania set in seriously. Was it imitative or […]

  10. May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    […] its vocabulary, grammar and timbres. And then came Hard Days Night, the first single I personally heard the first time it was played. Phoney Beatlemania had bitten the dust and real Beatlemania had set in permanently. Was it […]

  11. September 9, 2014 at 11:18 am

    […] Hard Days Night; Merseybeat in excelsis 5th Best British Rock Album according to Q in 2000 and […]


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