Every Saturday WTIT: The Blog brings you a meme called Saturday 9. It’s not to say that this is a bright idea, but it is what we do. A woman named Crazy Sam started this meme because a prior popular Saturday meme specialist Lola had retired. So, Sam contacted all Lola’s participants and invited us to participate in her meme. The biggest difference is that Sam enjoys our participation. All of Sam’s questions and writing are in bold.
1. When was the last time you cried? The day Jill Hennessy got married.
2. If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would it be? I just want to be a singer in a rock ‘n roll band.
3. Who is someone (other than yourself) would you like to go back into your past and talk to and why? John Lennon. Why? Because he was John Lennon. Gees, pay attention.
4. What is your favorite meal eating out? Maine lobster. With real butter.
5. Do you feel energized or drained by being in a group situation? If the answer is “it depends,” on what does it depend? I’m energized. I assume there’s like some hot women with big tatas in the group right? Isn’t that what you meant? Did I read into this? Oops. My bad. Never mind.
7. What’s a word you’ve invented? (alternate question: What needs a word but doesn’t have one yet?) Gongerling. In comedy bits with WTIT I’ve used it as a color, an alien race and an automobile. No one has ever questioned me on it. I think they felt stupid that they didn’t know what it meant.
8. Pick out one of your favorite songs. Go to Song Facts and tell us about the song’s history. I picked A Day in the Life from The Beatles. This is lifted completely from Song Facts: 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 (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) The beginning of this song was based on 2 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. Lennon took some liberties with the Tara Browne story – he changed it so he “Blew his mind out in the car.”
John Lennon stated this regarding the article about Tara Browne: “I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called Far And Near.
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. The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.
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 resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
The rising orchestra-glissando and the thundering sound are reminiscent of Entry of the Gods into Valhalla from Richard Wagner’s opera “Das Rheingold,” where after the rising glissando, Thor beats with his hammer. George Martin said in his 1979 book All You Need is Ears that the glissando was Lennon’s idea. After Lennon’s death, Martin seems to have changed his mind. In his 1995 book Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper, he states that the rising orchestra-glissando was McCartney’s idea. (thanks to Johan Cavalli, who is a music historian in Stockholm)
This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. 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. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying “Never could see any other way,” spliced together. It 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.
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 first verse. Richard’s son was premature and died soon after birth.
The Beatles started this with the working title In The Life of…
This is a rare Beatles song with a title that is not part of the lyrics. Another one is Yer Blues. (thanks, Bertrand – Paris, France)
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)
George Martin (from Q Magazine, July 2007): “John’s voice – which he hated – was the kind of thing that would send shivers down your spine. If you hear those opening chords with the guitar and piano, and then his voice comes in, ‘I heard the news today, oh boy’ It’s just so evocative of that time. He always played his songs to me on the guitar and I would sit on a stool as he strummed. The orchestral section was Paul’s idea. We put two pieces of songs together that weren’t connected in any way. Then we had that 24-bars-of-nothing in between. I had to write a score, but in the climax, I gave each instrument different little waypoints at each bar, so they would know roughly where they should be when they were sliding up. Just so they didn’t reach the climax too quickly. With A Day In The Life, I wondered whether we were losing our audience and I was scared. But I stopped being scared when I played it to the head of Capitol Records in America and he was gob smacked. He said, That’s fantastic. And of course, it was.” (thanks, Edward Pearce – Ashford, Kent, England)
In the original take, a 41 piece orchestra was not used. Instead, Lennon had roadie Mal Evans count to 21 in a very trippy manner and set off an alarm clock after the 21 counts. 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)
David Crosby was at Abbey Road studios when The Beatles were recording this. In an interview with Filter magazine, he said: “I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear A Day In The Life. I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man my brains were on the floor.” (thanks, Brian – Williamsburg, VA)
The orchestral bit was used in the Yellow Submarine movie. Photos of different geographical areas were shown as The Beatles were apparently traveling in the submarine to try and find Pepperland. (thanks, donald – as, KY)
When asked by Rolling Stone magazine what songs of his dad’s constantly surprise him, Sean Lennon said: “I’ve listened so much to that stuff that there are very few surprises. But I do think A Day In The Life is always inspiring.”
American rock band Hawthorne Heights originally named themselves A Day in the Life after this song. In 2003, lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist JT Woodruff changed it to their current name.
It was sold for $1.2 million to an anonymous American buyer.
This was rated the greatest ever Beatles song in a special collector’s edition issue by The Beatles: 100 Greatest Songs. The list was compiled to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four’s final studio album, Let It Be.
9. What is your absolute favorite piece of furniture you have and why? Blow me. Join us with Judd, tomorrow. Peace!
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