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A Phrase By Ringo Helped Inspire a Soundtrack and a Movie
A Hard Days Night was an album the Beatles released in July 1964. It was the Beatles third album, but this one has the distinction of being an album of all original songs by the group. A Hard Day’s Night has a magical quality to it that spilled over to the film as well.
These were the days before MTV and music videos, so this movie was something the fans really enjoyed. The album a Hard Day’s Night was written solely by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The title of the movie and the song according to the book, All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatle’s Release by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michael Guesdon, was inspired by Ringo Starr. Ringo had a way with a phrase and in a interview he stated, “We’d worked all day and we happed to work all night. I came up still thinking, it was day, I suppose, and I said, “It’s been a hard day...’ and I looked and saw it was dark, so I said, ‘night!” When Richard Lester, the director, heard this expression, he knew he had the title of the movie.
No one had a clear idea of what they wanted to do exactly. It was the producers that had an ideal of a Beatles movie, but no one had a script yet. The producers ask the Beatles to write some songs for the movie while the Beatles were on vacation in Bermuda. John Lennon asked what kind of songs they wanted. The producer said I don’t know Beatle songs. Two up tempos, two ballads, write six new Beatle songs.
What began as uncertainty, with the only certainty of wanting to make a film with the Beatles, emerged a soundtrack of pure pop greatness.
“A Hard Day’s Night”
This is the first song on the soundtrack. John Lennon wrote this the theme song the night before. He had Paul sing the bridge part of the song “When I’m home, everything seems to be all right, “because John said he couldn’t reach the notes. The song is a great way to start the soundtrack with the chord at the beginning of the song leading to the lyrics “A Hard Day’s Night”. The song moves very fast to show just how much work the Beatles are doing from concerts, to films, and being home would feel right to finally relax with your loved one at the end of the day. It is a song anyone who works can relate to.
“I Should Have Known Better”
This song was written by John Lennon. In 1980 he said this was one of his favorite songs from the album. He liked three other songs from the album and they were “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “If I Fell”, and “Tell Me Why”. John wrote a catchy tune. The song had a harmonica played by John throughout the song which was inspired by the song “Hey! Baby” by Bruce Chanel. In 1964 someone introduced the Beatles to Bob Dylan by giving them the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. John was inspired by his lyrics and it made him write more meaningful words in his songs. John Lennon’s influences had him crafting a beautiful song.
“If I Fell in Love with You”
John was on a roll with the album A Hard Day’s Night by writing another great song for this album. What is not to love in this song? The harmonies, the lyrics, the tender side of John emerges, and it is a perfect love ballad.
Paul McCartney stated that, “People tend to forget that John wrote some pretty nice ballads. People tend to think of him as an acerbic wit and aggressive and abrasive, but he did have a very warm side to him really which he didn't like to show too much in case he got rejected. We wrote "If I Fell" together but with the emphasis on John because he sang it. It was a nice harmony number, very much a ballad."
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
John himself stated that, “…. It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads, silly love songs, way back when.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
“I’m Happy Just To Dance With You”
John and Paul wrote this song for George to sing because at that time he hadn’t tried to do songwriting. Paul described the song as formula and John said he wouldn’t have sung it himself. The song has great guitar riffs with a Bo Diddley sound going throughout it, George sings it in a laid-back style and it all blends to a song that is indeed danceable. This was the last time Paul and John wrote a song for George, because in 1965 he began to write his own songs.
“And I Love Her”
Paul wrote this fabulous love song and it was the first ballad that Paul had written. He stated in the book
All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatle’s Release by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michael Guesdon that he was surprised by the song and loved the chords and images it generated. He stated in 1984 that “It was a love song, really, written for no one in particular.” Recording the song was a bit of a struggle they could not get the sound they wanted till the 21st take to get it right. The thing that made the song was when George Harrison switched to playing his Jose Ramirez classical guitar. Paul gave George credit by saying, It still holds up and George played really good guitar on it. It worked very well.”
John Lennon stated that this was Paul’s first "Yesterday". The song proved just how talented Paul was with producing those ballads for the group, and later in his solo career.
“Tell Me Why”
John Lennon wrote the song when they needed another upbeat song to put on the album. This song is crafted so well. Ringo’s great drumming, Paul and John singing perfect harmonies together. The part of the song that says, “Because there is nothing that I’d rather do...” goes straight to the stratosphere, it is perfection.
According to the Beatles Bible website, John said, “They needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black-New-York-girl-group song.”
“Can’t Buy Me Love”
This song was written in Paris when the Beatles were there touring. They requested a piano in their hotel room and Paul came up with this upbeat song to try and stay at the top of the charts like their previous song “I Want to hold Your Hand”. Paul wrote a gem, and it was on top of the Billboard Charts for four weeks in 1964.
Paul stated the song should have been entitled “Can Buy Me Love” because of all the perks that money and fame did for him and the band.
“Anytime at All”
John Lennon composed this song also, and it showed that he was on top of his game in creativity during this period. John brought this song to the studio unfinished. Paul suggested keeping the middle of the song instrumental and adding lyrics later. Time ran out and they just kept the middle instrumental and it works like a charm. It is neat to hear just the instruments playing at that moment. The song really moves, and John gives the song a strong vocal performance. A great little gem.
“I’ll Cry Instead”
This song is written by John Lennon, and it done in a country and western style. The Beatles enjoyed playing in that style, and Ringo especially enjoyed that country sound. The song sounds cheery, but the lyrics describe how John was unhappy because fame made him feel like he had lost his freedom. John said, according to Wikipedia that the line, “A chip on my shoulder that’s bigger than my feet.” was an accurate indication of his feelings at the time. Ringo played the tambourine on this song.
“Things We Said Today”
Paul McCartney wrote this song while he, his girlfriend, Jane, Ringo and his wife Maureen, were on a yacht in St. Thomas. The yacht was called Happy Days and according to the book All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatle’s Release by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michael Guesdon, Paul went by himself in a cabin to write the song. The room smelled like oil. He ended up going to the far side of the boat on the deck to finish it. Paul wrote the song about him and his girlfriend Jane Asher and how with both having careers they were starting to drift away from each other. Paul is sounding optimistic with the line “Someday when we’re dreaming deep in love not a lot to say, then we will remember things we said today.” Paul was proud of the song, and he should be it rocks, but then it has a ballad sound to it, and the whole song sounds dreamy and optimistic. John Lennon agreed that it was a good song.
“When I Get Home”
John Lennon wrote this rocker, and he sings it like no one can. He has that impatience in his voice, and a longing to be with his girl at home. John was inspired by the Wilson Pickett sound, but he wasn’t happy with the results. Paul said the song was about John’s relationship problems with his wife Cynthia. This song was the last song recorded for the album.
“You Can’t Do That”
This song has John perturbed with his lady, John sings the song and the lyrics and his style of singing show how he could be jealous, insecure, and angry when he found something he didn’t like going on in his relationship. In this case the song has John saying he doesn’t like his girl talking to another guy. He states, “If I catch you talking to that boy again I’m going to let you down and leave you flat.” The Beatles had a love of rhythm and blues, and this song shows it. Two interesting side notes to the song. In the book, All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatle’s Release by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michael Guesdon, John Lennon played his first guitar solo on an album. He used his brand-new Rickenbacker 3:25. He said “I never play anything as lead guitarist that George couldn’t do better, But I like playing lead sometimes, so I do it.” George also came up with the intro and outro of the song with his new guitar that was given to him on the Ed Sullivan show. It was a Rickenbacker electric 12 string guitar only the second one in existence at that time and worth in 1964 $900. No wonder they had an urge to do the parts they did they wanted to try out those guitars.
“I’ll Be Back”
This song was mainly written by John. It has an airy breezy sound to it with the acoustic guitars taking the lead and the great harmonies of John and Paul. In the book The Story Behind Every Beatle’s Release by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michael Guesdon John said he always liked the song. It has the melancholy of John and the optimism of Paul rolled up in a memorable song.
The Beatle’s album A Hard Day’s Night was released in 1964, and it was the first album to have all original songs by Lennon and McCartney. This album was a great success and anyone who has listened to the album will agree. In Great Britain it stayed Number 1 for 21 weeks. In the US it stayed Number 1 for 14 weeks. It was quite an achievement, and the album really got Beatlemania going in full swing.
The album had a tight deadline, but the pressure brought out the best in John and Paul. This album showed how much their songwriting had improved and their harmonies were perfection. A Hard Day’s Night is an album that has it all the beautiful ballads “And I Love Her”, “If I Fell in Love with You” , the country stylings of “I’ll Cry Instead”, the R&B sounds of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “When I Get Home”, and “You Can’t Do That”. It also has that wonderful pop sounds with songs like, “I Should Have Known Better”, “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You”, and “I’ll Be Back”.
The album A Hard Day’s Night is a masterpiece of an album as a soundtrack and as a pop rock album. It is the stepping stone to greater things they would accomplish later in their careers, and it shows how much genius they had musically. It is a wonderful album that deserves being listened to today.
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