Published on 1967
Track 13 on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
What the Beatles said about “A Day in the Life”
JOHN 1967: "I was writing the song with the ‘Daily Mail’ propped up in front of me on the piano. I had it open to the ‘News In Brief’ or whatever they call it. There was a paragraph about four thousand holes being discovered in Blackburn Lancashire. And when we came to record the song there was still one word missing from that verse… I knew the line had to go, ‘Now they know how many holes it takes to –something– the Albert Hall.’ For some reason I couldn’t think of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall? It was Terry Doran who said ‘fill’ the Albert Hall. And that was it. Then we thought we wanted a growing noise to lead back into the first bit. We wanted to think of a good end and we had to decide what sort of backing and instruments would sound good. Like all our songs, they never become an entity until the very end. They are developed all the time as we go along."
JOHN 1968: "’A Day in the Life’ –that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ –bang bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which we don’t often do, the afternoon before. So we all knew what we were playing, we all got into it. It was a real groove, the whole scene on that one. Paul sang half of it and I sang half. I needed a middle-eight for it, but Paul already had one there."
JOHN 1980: "Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul’s contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn’t use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work."
PAUL 1984: "That was mainly John’s, I think. I remember being very conscious of the words ‘I’d love to turn you on’ and thinking, Well, that’s about as risque as we dare get at this point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, ‘Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall’ or something. But I mean that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughty in any of that. ‘I’d love to turn you on’ was the rudest line in the whole thing. But that was one of John’s very good ones. I wrote… that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based on some of the ideas I’d been getting from Stockhausen and people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on their highest note and go in their own time… which orchestras are frightened to do. That’s not the tradition. But we got ’em to do it."
PAUL 1988: "Then I went around to all the trumpet players and said, ‘Look all you’ve got to do is start at the beginning of the 24 bars and go through all the notes on your instrument from the lowest to the highest– and the highest has to happen on that 24th bar, that’s all. So you can blow ’em all in that first thing and then rest, then play the top one there if you want, or you can steady them out.’ And it was interesting because I saw the orchestra’s characters. The strings were like sheep– they all looked at each other: ‘Are you going up? I am!’ and they’d all go up together, the leader would take them all up. The trumpeters were much wilder."