A Day in the Life Lyrics


Lennon/McCartney


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
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
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody 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 on

 
Lead Singer: John/Paul

Recording: 1/19/67, 1/20/67, 2/3/67, 2/10/67, 2/22/67, 3/1/67
Mixing: 1/30/67, 2/13/67, 2/22/67, 2/23/67
Length: 5:03
Take: 7

Anomalies

1:43
Switch click as orchestra comes in (Right)
1:44-2:16, 3:50-4:19
Mal Evans is heard counting the bars from 1 to 24; only about the first dozen are audible, starting at about three to 12
2:17
Right ear - intake of breath
2:18
An alarm clock sounds to mark the end of the first 24 bars [1]
2:18-2:20
Someone says "One" to mark the downbeat. Quieter, but audible on the CD is the trailing "two three four" (right)
2:42-2:48
Just before and after the words "had a smoke", Lennon starts talking and carrying on, most audibly a loud "hoooo" under the word "smoke" (Right)
2:58
(Left channel) sounds like a cough
4:50-4:52
A chair squeaking (three creaks total). Also reported as a "nose sniffle", paper rustling, someone saying "Shh!", sustain pedal being released on the piano ...
4:52-end * NEW *
I'm failing to verify reports I occasionally get of the sound of an air conditioning fan in this area of the track. I've read it in Lewisohn, but I can't find it to verify for myself. If anyone can actually hear this, give me some precise pointer as to where it is supposed to be, please! If I can find it and extract it I will put an audio clip of this section up. Also, remind me I said that if you do find it!

[1] Rumour has it that the alarm clock was timed to go off after 24 bars to mark where the downbeat is. Common sense should tell you that this is nonsense. You cannot set an alarm clock to go off with anything like that accuracy. The more likely explanation is that the alarm was "let off" -- deliberately triggered by hand at that moment. Lewisohn states this was a mechanism to mark the end of the passage. However, it seems an odd thing to do, especially when there was already a vocal count of bars. * NEW * However odd this seems, it may well be true. I've had justifications of why the count of bars (on its own) is insufficient to cue the orchestra.
JustToJess@aol.com writes:-
I've spent my entire life since I was three in musical theatre, and I can assure you that many people do need to "wake up" after 24 bars of music. Not that they have poor concentration, or that they would have missed the cue, but after rehearsing this song over and over and over again, and after countless takes, it is VERY reasonable to assume that the alarm clock (most likely hit from the piano - people do have slips of the tongue, you know) got them back into the music, and started that "umph" that they needed to maintain the same quality of . . . atmosphere? carisma? I don't know the right word, but just that little bit of enthusiasm and excitement by the performers that gives the song that special somthing. I know that many a director I have worked with has done something like this during long, tedious rehersals.
* NEW * Yes, it fits in with the "Woke up..." line. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it is widely written that fitting with the lyrics was only coincidental, and the alarm clock's purpose was primarily and originally as a marker. Nothing more.
* NEW * I'm still getting reports on this alarm clock entry, perpetuating the idea that the alarm was set and timed to go off after 24 bars. Please feel free to try it with any wind up alarm clock of your choice, if you can do it, I'd like to hear about it.
* NEW * There is a very subtle distinction between "setting an alarm clock to go off" and "setting an alarm clock off". The former implies an interval passing between doing something with the clock, and having it sound 24 bars later. The latter implies direct interference with the clock to make it sound now. The latter is the only reasonable explanation.

A 41 piece orchestra played on this. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) 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. (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA)
This was recorded in 3 sessions: First the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.
The beginning was based on 2 stories John Lennon read in the paper: 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. (thanks, Ed - Perth, Australia)
McCartney contributed the line "I'd love to turn you on." This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it for the line about having a smoke and going into a dream, which they thought was about marijuana
McCartney's middle section (Woke up, got out of bed...) was intended for another song.
The final chord was produced by all 4 Beatles and George Martin banging on 3 pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders.
The final 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.
After the final note, Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can't hear, but drives dogs crazy.
In 2004, McCartney did an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper where he said he was doing cocaine around this time along with marijuana: "I'd been introduced to it, and at first it seemed OK, like anything that's new and stimulating. When you start working your way through it, you start thinking, 'This is not so cool and idea,' especially when you start getting those terrible comedowns."
The movie reference is to a film Lennon acted in called How I Won The War.
Keith Richards named his second son Tara after Tara Brown, the Guinness heir who smashes his car in Lennon's 1st verse. Richard's son was premature and died soon after birth.
The Beatles started this with the working title "In The Life of..."
A few seconds after this ends, at the end of the album, there is a loop of incomprehensible Beatles studio chatter that was spliced together. This was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Kids, ask your parents about vinyl.
That's Mal Evans doing the counting during the first transition from John to Paul. He set the alarm clock (heard on the recording) to go off at the end of his 24-bar count. Evans also helped with the composition of a couple of songs on the Sgt. Pepper album. Although he never received composer's credit, the Beatles did pay his estate a lump sum in the 1990s for his contributions. Evans died January 5, 1976 after a misunderstanding with the police. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
A car dealer and Beatle friend Terry Doran helped come up with the lyric "Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall." (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA)
In the original take, a 41 piece orchestra was not used. Instead, Lennon had Ringo count to 21 in a very trippy manner. This version is on the 2nd Anthology CD, and is a very different version than the one on Sgt. Pepper. (thanks, Emery - San Jose, CA)
 
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