A Day In The Life - An Indepth Analysis

Recording "A Day In The Life" - Friday January 20, 1967
Friday 20 January, 1967
Studio Two: 7.00pm-1.10am. Recording: 'A Day In The Life' (tape reduction take 4 into takes 5-7, SI onto take 6). P: George Martin. E: Geoff Emerick. 2E: Phil McDonald.

Reduction mixes of take four into five, six and seven, each with different console settings. Take six was 'best' and it was overdubbed with another John Lennon vocal, Paul's bass and Ringo's drums.

With take four John began a series of vocal overdubs onto the two vacant tracks, so that by the evening's end the four-track tape included three separate Lennon vocals, all with heavy echo. "There was so much echo on'A Day In The Life'," recalls Geoff Emerick. "We'd send a feed from John's vocal mike into a mono tape machine and then tape the output - because they had separate record and replay heads - and then feed that back in again. Then we'd turn up the record level until it started to feed back on itself and give a twittery sort of vocal sound. John was hearing that echo in his cans [headphones] as he was singing. It wasn't put on after. He used his own echo as a rhythmic feel for many of the songs he sang, phrasing his voice around the echo in his cans.

There was one other new overdub: Paul's vocal contribution, appearing for the first time, and in perfect juxtaposition to John Lennon's. Here was a prime example of how the two songwriters had evolved: Lennon's song had a beginning and an end but no middle-, McCartney's had a middle but no beginning or end. But the two pieces came together like a jigsaw, creating a complete picture and the impression that the two pieces were intended as one. The illusion was compounded by the fact that Paul's vocal, the first line of which was "Woke up, fell out of bed", occurred immediately after the alarm clock had been sounded on the original recording to mark the end of the first 24 bar gap. Making good use of the happy coincidence, the alarm clock was kept on the track permanently.
Actually, Paul re-recorded his vocal on 3 February, instantly wiping out this version. This attempt was just a rough guide, ending on an expletive after he had made an error.


George Martin talks about the Paul's middle contribution


Listen to Take 4

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