The Beatles -- ‘A Day In The Life’

A Day In The Life (5.33)

John Lennon: Lead vocal, acoustic guitar; Paul McCartney: Lead vocal, bass guitar, piano; George Harrison: Maracas; Ringo Starr: Drums; Viola: John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek; Violin: Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Munro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott; Cello: Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Alex Nifosi; Flute: Clifford Seville, David Sandeman; Oboe: Roger Lord; Clarinet: Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer; Bassoon: Norman Fawcett, Alfred Waters; Trumpet: David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson; Trombone: Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore; Tuba: Michael Barnes; Double bass: Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce; French horn: Alan Civil, Neil Sanders; Harp: John Marston; Timpani: Tristan Fry; Percussion: Tristan Fry

This was a composite of two different songs. John couldn’t work out a middle-eight so Paul slipped in his “woke up, fell out of bed” part. “It was a peak,” said John. “Paul and I were definitely working together. That was the way we wrote a lot of the time and I’d write the good bit that was easy, like ‘I read the news today, oh boy’ – or whatever it was, and then when you got stuck – whenever it got hard – you’d just drop-in and meet each other and I’d sing half and he’d be inspired to write the next bit and vica versa. And he came up with that. He was a bit shy about it, because I think he thought ‘Well, it’s a good song’ and sometimes we wouldn’t let each other interfere with a song either. Because you tend to be a bit lax with someone else’s stuff – you experiment a …

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Take 2 & 6 A Day In The Life (5.05)

You can hear a few early takes on ‘Anthology 2’ which show how they came up with the crescendo… John counts the whole thing in with a droll “sugarplum fairy, sugarplum fairy” (sixties slang for your drug-dealer) and Mal counts out the twenty-four bars – where the crescendo would later go. (You can still hear remnants of this spoken passage at 1:14 and 3:46.)

At this point, they still didn’t have a clue how they were going to fill it, so they decided to mark the end of the section with an alarm clock. But because this sound-effect fitted-in so nicely with the lyrics to Paul’s part, they decided to leave it in.

George Martin later revealed that they didn’t have a choice, because they couldn’t wipe it off the tape.

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