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A Hard Day's Night

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The original US sleeve for

The original US sleeve for "A Hard Day's Night"

source: rarebeatles.com

A Hard Day's Night

Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: April 16, 1964 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: March 20, 1964; March 23, 1964; June 9, 1964; June 22, 1964
Length: 2:29
Takes: 9
Musicians: John Lennon: lead vocal, rhythm guitars (1964 Rickenbacker 325, Gibson J160E)
Paul McCartney: lead vocal (bridge), backing vocal, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (Rickenbacker "Fire-glo" 360-12)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
George Martin: piano
First released: July 10, 1964 (UK: Parlophone R5160), July 13, 1964 (US: Capitol 5222)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • A Hard Day's Night, (UK: Parlophone PMC 1230, PCS 3058, Parlophone CDP7 46437 2, US: United Artists UAL 3366, UAS 6366, Capitol CLJ 46435)
  • The Beatles 1962-1966, (UK: Apple PCSP 717, US: Apple SKBO 3403, Apple CDP 0777 7 97036 2 3)
  • The Beatles 1, (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2)
Highest chart position: 1 (UK: three weeks beginning July 25, 1964), 1 (US: two weeks beginning August 1, 1964)
History:
  • Written by John on April 15, 1964, on the back of an old greeting card, in direct response to the need for a title track for the Beatles' first film. Ringo had inspired the title after one particularly busy day; not realizing the sun had gone down, he claimed it had been "A hard day's... night!" The malapropism became the name of the film, then called Beatlemania!, although whether the idea to use the phrase came from the group, the movie's director, Dick Lester, or the film's producer, Walter Shenson, is a matter of debate.
  • Although John and Paul frequently sang their own contibutions to a song, Paul took lead vocals on the bridges here simply because John felt his own vocal register wasn't high enough.
  • The solo has been rumored to be George Martin playing a harpsichord, as two different octaves are heard, but the actual effect was caused by Harrison playing his solo on guitar and Martin doubling him on piano.
Known live versions:

July 19, 1964 (Blackpool Night Out, ABC Theatre, Blackpool, England)
August 21, 1964 (Seattle Coliseum, Seattle, WA)
August 22, 1964 (Empire Stadium, Vancouver, BC)
August 23, 1964 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA)
September 2, 1964 (Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA)
September 3, 1964 (State Fair Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN)
September 18, 1964 (Dallas Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX)
April 11, 1965 (N.M.E. Poll Winners' Concert 1965, Empire Pool, Wembley)
June 20, 1965 (Palais Des Sports, Paris, France)
June 22, 1965 (Palais d'Hiver, Lyon, France)
June 24, 1965 (Velodromo, Milan, Italy)
June 25, 1965 (Palazzo Dello Sport, Genoa, Italy)
June 27-28, 1965 (Teatro Adriano, Rome, Italy)
June 30, 1965 (Palais Des Fetes, Nice, France)
July 2, 1965 (Plaza De Toros De Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
July 3, 1965 (Plaza de Toros Monumental, Barcelona, Spain)
August 15, 1965 (Shea Stadium, New York, NY)
August 17, 1965 (Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada)
August 18, 1965 (Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
August 19, 1965 (Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX)
August 20, 1965 (White Sox Park, Chicago, IL)
August 21, 1965 (Metropolitan Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
August 22, 1965 (Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR)
August 28, 1965 (Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA)
August 19-30, 1965 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA)
August 31, 1965 (Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA)

BBC radio versions: 2 (for the BBC radio programs Top Gear and From Us To You)
Trivia:

  • The song's famous opening chord has been a subject of much debate and even sound analysis, a debate made more intriguing by the fact that the chord, which sounds like a single guitar, actually represents the whole band, in this case John and George playing Fadd9 (notes: FACG), Paul playing a D note on the bass, and George Martin striking an open D chord on the piano. In order to reconstruct the chord alone, the closest approximation is a Dm7sus4 (DFGAC).
  • London's Evening Standard reporter, Maureen Cleave, a friend of Lennon's, has claimed that she urged John to change the original lines "I find my tiredness is through/And I feel all right," which later became "I find the things that you do/They make me feel all right." This has never been verified, however. (Cleave would later conduct the interview in which John would make his infamous "bigger than Jesus" comment.
  • This is the first of eight songs taken from the Hard Day's Night soundtrack and issued on singles -- under their licensing agreement, only United Artists, producer of the film, could legally sell a soundtrack album in the US, so Capitol resigned themselves to pulling as many singles as possible from it.
  • This was the first Beatles song to win a Grammy, in 1964 (the first of their Grammys came earlier that same night, for Best New Artist).
Covered by: Chet Atkins, The Bar-Kays, Count Basie, Bill Black Combo, The Chipmunks, Dick Contino, Sonny Curtis, Dennis Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Goldie Hawn, Hoodoo Gurus, Instant Funk, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, The Kingsmen, The Knack, Peggy Lee, Rita Lee, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Enoch Light, Henry Mancini, George Martin, John Mayall, Perez Prado, Billy Preston, Otis Redding, Johnny Rivers, Peter Sellers, The Supremes, Dionne Warwick
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