DEAR JERRY: In the summer of 1964, when I heard “A Hard Day's Night” on the radio for the first time, I was struck by both its title and distinctive opening.
The dynamic power chord open speaks for itself, so my question is about the title.
Unless it's the answer to a question about itself, “A Hard Day's Night” isn't even a complete sentence. Very strange wording indeed.
What is its origin? Was “A Hard Day's Night” a hit record first and then a film title later, or was it the other way around?
Beatle Bob in Buffalo
DEAR BBB: These are great questions for our anniversary column. This week we begin our 24th year in syndication.
Fortunately, I have a recorded interview with “A Hard Day's Night” producer Walter Shenson, and I will transcribe for you the segments in which he discusses the topics prompting your letter:
“At first our picture was called “Beatles Number One” because we didn't yet have a title, and it was their first movie. Meanwhile I was getting these phone calls from United Artists' publicity people in New York asking what we were going to call this film. They were putting together the advertising and needed a title. I said I didn't know, but assured them we'd come up with something.
“Then John Lennon and I were just chatting on the set and he asked if I'd ever heard Ringo misuse the English language. I asked him to give me an example. He said if they were working hard at a recording session all night, the next day Ringo would say something about us really having a hard day's night.
“When you think about it, it really is a very interesting statement. Right then I told John “A Hard Day's Night” would be a good title for our movie. Fortunately, he agreed.
“So we went over and asked the director [Richard Lester] how he felt about it, and then the other three Beatles, and they all said it was fine and would be a great title. I think they were just relieved to not to have to think any longer about a title.
“I telephoned New York, and the publicity people at United Artists, saying here's your title: “A Hard Day's Night.” They said 'What?'
“I told them not to give me an answer right then, but to ask the secretaries their opinion and call me the next day.
“The following day they called to report that everyone at the New York office loved it.
“Now we had a title, but then it dawned on me that we didn't have a title song and we had already recorded everything [written especially for the film]. In filmmaking, the songs are pre-recorded and then you just photograph the singers singing to their own tracks.
“So I mentioned to John one night that we needed to have another song, one titled “A Hard Day's Night.”
“His reaction was to ask what I was talking about.
“I explained by asking what kind of a producer would I be to have a film called “A Hard Day's Night,” starring the Beatles, and then NOT have a Beatles song called “A Hard Day's Night.” I asked him to please write this new song.
“The next morning, he and Paul called me into their dressing room we were still shooting and they played and sang to me their new song, “A Hard Day's Night.”
“Now, think about this: I got a hit song on demand! That's almost impossible. And it was one of their biggest hits ever.”
IZ ZAT SO? The United Artists soundtrack album, “A Hard Day's Night,” is the only one of the Beatles albums on which every track is written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, either individually or collectively.