If the A Hard Day's Night
movie was a cinefied version of the Beatles' routine reality, then the title track sums it up more or less perfectly. A rollercoaster mix: Ringo's surrealistic title (also pilfered by Mr Lennon In His Own Write
), George's crazy opening chord, John and Paul sliding the lead vocal effortlessly back and forth.
John knocked it off in a night, scribbling the lyrics on the back of a birthday card, as soon as the movie's title was confirmed towards the end of filming; mainly to get one up on Paul. By the following evening, it was in the can: though Macca had been duly handed the high vocal. However acute they may have been and become, interbeatle rivalries always took second place to song quality.
Like the band themselves in the film, the track never stands still. The dual and double-tracked vocal gives it an exuberant urgency, egged on by Ringo's constantly shifting beat patterns and varied percussion — check the way he lays into that cowbell in the bridge! George's guitar work is impeccable throughout (though the proto-psychedelic closing arpeggio is Lennon's). "Working like a dog", they also found time to record it at the BBC around the same time.
Another Beatles' first: "A Hard Day's Night", the single and the album
, held the top spot on the British and American charts simultaneously in August '64.Everything seems to be right!
There's a wonderful cover of the song, also produced by George Martin on Parlophone, featuring Peter Sellers as Larry Olivier as Shakespeare's Richard III. Still has me in bits every time! Or, for yet another completely different take, try the Bar-Kays soul-fired cut...