Monday, 7 July 2014

A Hard Day's Night-The Beatles

I'm three years old and I'm sitting cross-legged on the floor of the living room. My dad's sitting next to me, strumming his guitar. He's playing one of the songs he always plays, one of the songs I'm used to.

I get up and ask him to play it again. He does.

When he's finished, he sits me on his knee and says "Do you know who that song's by?"

I shake my head. I just know that I like it.

My dad sits me on the couch and leans his guitar next to me. "It's by a band called The Beatles."

And life was never the same.

I grew up on the Beatles. I was born in the same city the Beatles came from. I grew up with them being played constantly. My dad's favourite band? The Beatles. In fact, my mum was once one of the people randomly selected to be interviewed on the news asking who her favourite bands from the North were, and she said "The Beatles" and also pointed out my dad's love for the Smiths (who I also love.)

So, basically, the Beatles were part of my life from the age of three. In fact, later on that day, my mum came into the living room to find my dad playing the guitar and me drumming away on a little plastic pot with a wooden spoon, telling her I was Ringo Starr. He was my favourite for years until I learned about the wonderful craziness of John Lennon and he became my favourite. (And after Ringo posted the video about the fan mail, I kind of cracked up laughing. I mean, seriously.)

Anyway, I have a ton of favourite Beatles songs, and I can't even remember what the first one I heard was. But I do know that one of the first ones I heard and one of my favourites was........A Hard Day's Night.

guitar twang

Didn't you just picture the song starting then?    


I grew up listening to those chords, and those lyrics. Literally, every day it was on in our house. It was one of my dad's favourites too and my little cousins quickly got in on the action once everyone was playing the song constantly. Our whole family knew the song. And going to a Liverpool school, so did most of the kids there.

It's been a hard day's night
And I've been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night
I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you, I find the things that you do-The Beatles

I was totally oblivious to what the last line could mean. But then again, I just loved the song. I hadn't heard anything like it. Ever. I remember blabbering excitedly that it was what excited sounded like. (I was a precocious little thing.)

When I got a little older, my mum and dad bought me the film of A Hard Day's Night for my seventh birthday. I adored it-no doubt, a lot of it went over my head but I adored John Lennon's witty lines and it was probably the film that started my lifelong love for John Lennon himself. And of course, I loved all the songs that were played.

Just the simple repetition of the song probably appealed on some level. If you listen, the lyrics are actually pretty much the same over and over. But the music is so good. There aren't even words to describe how it sounds-it just sounds like, as I put it when I was a kid, like excitement. It sounded like feelings to me, and I just loved it.

I still love it-and I'm in a generation that has access to pretty much any music we want. I can only imagine the excitement when this song came out back in the Sixties. If I think it's brilliant now, what was it like back then?

When I got my first ipod, the Beatles were the first band that went on there. Whenever we were on family holidays and my dad pulled out the guitar, they were always the first thing that got played. Everyone always sang along.

I grew up with the songs. As I got older, I started to realise just how good the songs were-particularly this one. Even just the simple repetition of those lyrics was brilliant. And the chords were great-they were simple but something about the sound just got stuck in your head.

You know I work all day
To get you money to buy your things-The Beatles

I'm thirteen and we're driving home from school in the car. It's a rainy afternoon, early winter. I've had a bad day. I've got my head leaned against the window and my mum's trying to focus on the road in between worrying about whether her daughter's about to have a breakdown in the car. I'm leaning against the window, trying to conjure ways to get out of going to school tomorrow.

I lift up my ipod and plug it into my ears. I click on the Beatles and shuffle through the songs, putting one on at random.

The guitar twangs in my ears. It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog....

By the end of the first verse, I'm smiling.

I'm in my cousin's holiday house and we're trying to decide what to play. My littlest cousin is eight and she shakes her head at each choice, already discerning.

"Too boring" she says, hands on hips. "Too slow. Too quiet."

Her sister, brother and I roll our eyes at each other and I elbow them aside. "Out of the way." I type the song into Youtube, and the guitar twang sounds through the room.

It's been a hard day's night....

Immediately, a smile spreads over her face. Her sister and brother are bobbing their heads and singing along. By the end of the first verse, we're all screaming the lyrics, and even our parents are joining in.

But when I get home to you,
I find the things that you do-The Beatles.

I swear that I had absolutely no idea that today was the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Hard Day's Night album. When I was looking for an image of the album cover on Google Images, and I learnt that today was the anniversary, my jaw actually dropped. But it was brilliant timing for this post.

Last summer, we were all in the car, driving on holiday. I plugged my ipod into the front and we shuffled through random music, my parents refusing to scream along to My Chemical Romance, like my cousin and I. We both rolled our eyes.

And then I click onto the Beatles. It's been a hard day's night...

My cousin's grinning. We both launch into the song and I'm remembering back when we were tiny, standing in the garden on summer nights, listening to my dad play that song and spinning around with our cousins, laughing under the stars.

Whenever I've had a bad day, and just want to curl up with something sad and hug things, I always flick through my ipod to the Beatles. And this song always comes on.

When I'm home, everything seems to be all right-The Beatles.

And the last bit of the song always makes me smile. Not the lyrics, just the way the chords and their voices fade out.

You know I feel all right
You know I fee-eel all rii-ght-The Beatles.

And then you get that chord fade out, and it's beautiful. That moment at the end of the song always takes me back to sitting there with my family, singing away on holidays late at night. And then I go back and play the song again.

You know I feel all right
You know I fee-eel all rii-ght-The Beatles.

Happy fiftieth anniversary, Hard Day's Night.

(OK, maybe it's a couple of days until the actual anniversary, but who's counting?)

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