A Hard Day's Night

Beatles, The

album cover

This Can Make You Feel All Right

If you haven't listened closely to "A Hard Day's Night" since the transistor radio era, prepare for a shock. The eponymous song that kick-starts the Beatles' third full-length album is so familiar, it's like the furniture in the living room—there but unnoticed. Pay attention, and you may find yourself astounded all over again by this tuneful ode of complaint, which finds John Lennon double-tracking his voice to give the effect of a duet. He's groaning—cheerfully of course—about the trials of being an on-the-go pop idol.

It's a giddy adrenaline rush, and like everything that follows, it's the very essence of pop. Released at the height of Beatlemania in 1964, A Hard Day's Night is the first Beatles album designed to accompany a film (some consider it the best of that bunch), and the first to feature nothing but Lennon/McCartney originals, all of them about the gooeyest of songwriter subjects, love. Among its well-known singles are "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Tell Me Why," but virtually everything could be a single, including the enraged "You Can't Do That," the type of acidic breakup song Lennon later made a specialty.

And then there are the disarmingly lovely ballads—"Things We Said Today," "If I Fell," "And I Love Her." Utilizing a variety of guitar sounds (George Harrison's twelve-string figures prominently) and vocal approaches (powerful unison singing for "And I Love Her," sliding barbershop-style inner-voice harmonies on "If I Fell"), these offer hints of the more sophisticated Beatles music that was around the corner. Compact marvels of feeling, these never come off as fancy or pretentious—the melodies float along, lighter than air, blessed with pop innocence and at the same time suggesting a knowing beyond years.

Genre: Rock
Released: 1964, Captiol
Key Tracks: "And I Love Her," "Things We Said Today," "If I Fell," "You Can't Do That," "I Should Have Known Better," "Tell Me Why".
Catalog Choice: Please Please Me; Rubber Soul
Next Stop: Badfinger: Straight Up
After That: ABBA: Gold
Book Page: 58

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Comments:

#1 from Frank Watanabe - 09/02/2009 3:54

Tom:

Not a comment on Hard Day’s Night, but on your whole project.

I just came across your book. Phenomenal.

I was interested in how many artists I had heard–and amazed by how many I   hadn’t.

It set me to wondering–

On various websites, I am able to hear short samples of a lot of music.

So–

On your website list, might it be possible to add samples to titles?

I have no idea what this might involve, technically or in terms of permissions etc.

Maybe it’s a fearsome monster.

But, speaking just as an interested browser–it would be great for me, when you lead me in the direction of an artist I have never heard (or heard of. . .), to be able to listen to 30 seconds.

Keep on keeping on. You do good work.

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