Why John Lennon Didn’t Think ‘A Day in the Life’ Was The Beatles’ Best Song
“A Day in the Life” is often considered one of The Beatles’ greatest songs, however, John Lennon didn’t see it that way. John liked the song but he didn’t put it on a pedestal. Here’s a look at how The Beatles made “A Day in the Life” — and John’s opinion on the song.
John Lennon reveals how The Beatles made ‘A Day in the Life’
During a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Cott, John discussed a whole host of The Beatles’ songs, including “A Day in the Life.” “I dug it,” he said. “It just sort of happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which we don’t often do, the afternoon before. So we all knew what we were playing, we all got into it.”
Subsequently, John explained a little about the origin of the song. “Paul sang half of it and I sang half,” he said. “I needed a middle-eight for it, but that would have been forcing it, all the rest had come out smooth, flowing, no trouble, and to write a middle-eight would have been to write a middle-eight, but instead Paul already had one there. It’s a bit of a 2001, you know.” It’s unclear why John compared the song to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Cott asked John if he considered “A Day in the Life” a peak for the The Beatles. “No, I don’t,” he replied. “I think whatever we’re doing now is past what we were doing then. Even if there is no song comparable to it, say. It’s just not the scene now. It was only a song and it turned out well and it was a groove – it did do all that – but there’s plenty more.”
John Lennon reflected on the Fab Four’s ‘peak’ two years later
Notably, John would later discuss the idea of The Beatles’ peak in the book Lennon Remembers, which records an interview he gave in 1970 — two years after the aforementioned Rolling Stone interview. There, he said Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a peak for The Beatles. “A Day in the Life” is one of the most famous songs from that album.
References to The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’ in pop culture
The track made an impact on pop culture. For example, The Residents’ song “Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life” is a surreal Beatles collage whose title pays homage to “A Day in the Life” as well as the camp classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. In a similar vein, the film All You Need Is Cash is a Beatles satire that includes a song called “Cheese and Onions.” “Cheese and Onions” has an outro which is clearly modeled on the outro of “A Day in the Life.” “A Day in the Life’ wasn’t John’s favorite song but it seems to have resonated.