Often when I decide on a song to feature here, I struggle to find any pertinent trivia, but the opposite is true of tonight’s song! In fact, my screen was overflowing with trivia about this song, its origins, its recording, reception and more. I would need at least four posts to cover it all, so I shan’t even try, but will cover only a couple of the more interesting bits. I do, however, encourage you to check out some of the trivia on either SongFacts or Rolling Stone … or both!
Released as the final track of the Beatles 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this was credited to Lennon–McCartney, but the verses were mainly written by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney primarily contributing the song’s middle section. It is widely regarded as one of the finest and most important works in popular music history.
Interestingly, this song did not chart in either the UK or the U.S.
A 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties such as false noses, party hats, and gorilla-paw gloves to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session! The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.
This was recorded in three sessions: first the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in. That final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds; the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read in the Daily Mail newspaper: Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall.
And on that note, I’ll leave you to listen to the song, then check out the rest of the trivia on the two links I provided at the beginning!
A Day in the Life
“Dub the mic on the piano quite low this
Just keeping it like maracas, you know
You know those old pianos”
“Ok, we’re on”
“Sugarplum fairy, sugarplum fairy”
I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords
I saw a film today, oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on
“Five, six, seven, eight, nine
Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen
Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Made my way upstairs and had a smoke
And everybody spoke and I went into a dream
I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
I’d love to turn you
“See the worst thing about doing this
Doing something like this
Is I think that at first people sort of are a bit suspicious
‘You know, come on, what are you up to?’
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
A Day in the Life lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC