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A Day in the Life
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A Day in the Life

"A Day in the Life" is the title of a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded for The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

Lennon started writing "A Day In The Life" while reading the newspaper, the Daily Mail. Two stories caught his eye; one about Tara Browne, a Guinness heir, and friend of The Beatles, who drove his Lotus Elan into the back of a parked lorry in Redcliffe Square, London, in 1966, and a story about 4,000 potholes in the streets of Blackburn, Lancashire. McCartney then added the middle section, which was a short piano piece he had been working on previously. The two sections, which have little, if anything, in common, combine with surprising effectiveness to create a powerful and disturbing portrait of a narrator so consumed by the distractions of his everyday life that he is equally unmoved by a tragic car crash, a brutal war film, and a story about potholes, each of which is recounted in the same trivial tone. At the end of the otherwise fairly upbeat album, this sudden note of profound fatalism is rather startling.

The two sections of the song were separated by 15 bars ending with an alarm clock triggered by assistant Mal Evans, which at first, the Beatles were not sure how to fill. Then they had the idea of bringing in a full orchestra and having them "freak out" for 15 bars. The trouble was, classical musicians were not sure how to "freak out" musically. So producer George Martin had to write a "freak out" score for the musicians to follow. The sessions were filmed, but the film remains unreleased in its entirety. Portions of it can be seen in the "A Day In The Life" promotional film, including shots of studio guests like Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Donovan, Patti Boyd Harrison and Michael Nesmith.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, a list of approximately 150 songs circulated on the Internet, purported to be from radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications to its subsidiaries, with the recommendation that these songs be pulled from airplay (it was later revealed that the list was originally the work of a few specific station program directors, was not an official Clear Channel missive, and changed over time as it was redistributed). "A Day in the Life" was on the list along with The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Ticket To Ride", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", and John Lennon's "Imagine".

Note

There are in fact two versions of the song with minor variations. The version on Sgt. Pepper has its beginning segued from the end of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)". The version on The Beatles 1967-1970 (the "blue album") has a clean intro.

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