Who wrote The Beatles song ‘A Day in the Life?’

In their time, The Beatles achieved things that were unthinkable before their rise. The most culturally significant band of all time, from their music to their album covers, the Fab Four innovated and established the blueprint for the entire industry. Kicking things off with their debut single in 1962 and concluding their final offering, Let It Be, in 1970, the band released many notable tracks during this span, with one of the most accomplished being ‘A Day in the Life’.

A fascinating aspect of the band’s career is that getting a definitive hold on who wrote certain songs has never been simple. This is because, in the most collaborative sense possible, each member added facets that made the compositions come to life, which would not have been there without them. Famously, though, most of the songwriting is credited to the game-changing partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with the pair writing an eye-watering amount of influential material.

Regarding ‘A Day in the Life’, Lennon and McCartney are credited with bringing it into the world. The opening and closing segments were primarily written by Lennon, with McCartney penning most of the track’s middle section. In classic form, though, all four members had a hand in finishing the finalised version of the song.

Lennon explained to Rolling Stone: “‘A Day In The Life’ – that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ – bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully.”

What is ‘A Day in the Life’ about?
The song is an intentionally detached glance at the idiosyncrasies of everyday life. Fittingly, ‘A Day in the Life’ was inspired by several disconnected events that Lennon encountered. These were the death of the millionaire socialite Tara Browne – the heir to the Guinness fortune – the frontman’s appearance in Richard Lester’s How I Won the War, and most strangely of all, a council survey that found 4,000 potholes in Blackburn, Lancashire’s roads.

In David Sheff’s All We Are Saying, Lennon explains: “Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about four thousand potholes in the streets of Blackburn, Lancashire, that needed to be filled. Paul’s contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song, ‘I’d love to turn you on,’ that he’d had floating around in his head and couldn’t use. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.”

What album is ‘A Day in the Life’ on?
‘A Day in the Life’ originally appeared on The Beatles’ 1967 psychedelic masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s. In this iconic format, it is crossfaded with the applause at the end of the previous song, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)’. Since then, it has appeared in multiple guises on different records by the Liverpudlian quartet.

For instance, 1996’s Anthology 2 contains a composite remix of ‘Day in the Life’, which includes elements from the original two takes, showing the song at its embryonic pre-orchestral phase. Elsewhere, the 2006 soundtrack remix record, Love, starts the song with Lennon’s introduction of “sugar plum fairy,” with the strings sections more full-frontal during the crescendos.

‘A Day in the Life’ official lyrics:
“I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph

He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords

I saw a film today, oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
I’d love to turn you on”.

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