Paul McCartney: Elvis Presley Inspired The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’

The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” doesn’t sound much like Elvis Presley’s music, however, Paul McCartney revealed the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired it just the same. In addition, Paul said he noticed elements of Elvis’ sound in some of John Lennon’s post-Beatles songs. 

The Beatles standing in a row
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Paul McCartney explains how Elvis Presley’s ‘echo’ inspired ‘A Day in the Life’

According to Elvis Australia, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a massive impact on a young Paul. Seeing pictures of Elvis distracted him from his schoolwork. In addition, once he heard Elvis’ music, he stopped thinking about academics. He thought Elvis was an incredible vocalist, as exemplified in his vocal stylings on “Heartbreak Hotel.”

“His phrasing, his use of echo, it’s all so beautiful,” Paul said, discussing “Heartbreak Hotel.” “It’s the way he sings it, too. As if he’s singing it from the depths of hell. It’s a perfect example of a singer being in command of the song. Musically it’s perfect, too. The double-bass and the walk-in piano create this incredibly haunting atmosphere. It’s so full of mystery, and it’s never lost that for me. The echo is just stunning. When The Beatles were recording, we’d often ask George Martin for ‘the Elvis echo.’ I think we got it down perfectly on ‘A Day in the Life.”

“Heartbreak Hotel”

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Paul McCartney sees elements of Elvis Presley’s sound in John Lennon’s music

According to the Daily Express, Paul said the Elvis echo can be heard in two of the most famous songs John released after leaving The Beatles. “I think so much of what he did just, obviously ‘Imagine’ and ‘Instant Karma’ is great and the nice thing was, when I listen to the records, I can imagine him in the studio and go, ‘Oh ok, I know what he’s done,” Paul said about John. “He’s just said to the engineer, ‘Gimme some Elvis echo… Bog echo.’”

How the world reacted to ‘A Day in the Life,”‘ ‘Imagine,’ and ‘Instant Karma’

The so-called “Elvis echo” clearly had an effect on Paul and John. Let’s take a look at how the public reacted to the aforementioned songs by The Beatles and John which use the ‘Elvis echo.” “A Day in the Life” was not a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. On the other hand, the song’s parent album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

“A Day in the Life”

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Meanwhile, “Imagine” and “Instant Karma” were released as singles. “Imagine” and “Instant Karma” both reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Decades later, “A Day in the Life” remains a famous Beatles album track while “Imagine” and “Instant Karma” are two of John’s most well-known post-Beatles songs. These classic tracks might not be the same if not for the vocal stylings of Elvis.