A Day In The Life - An Indepth Analysis

The Origins of "A Day In The Life"
John Lennon: I was reading the paper one day and noticed two stories. I was writing 'A Day In The Life' with the Daily Mail propped in front of me on the piano. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about four thousand potholes in the streets of Blackburn, Lancashire, that needed to be filled.

The pot-hole story appeared in the 7 January 1967 issue of the Daily Mail. There was still one word missing in that verse when we came to record. I knew the line had to go: 'Now they now how many holes it takes to --- something --- the Albert Hall.' It was nonsense verse, really, but for some reason I couldn't think of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall? It was Terry [Doran - a friend of the Beatles] who said 'fill' the Albert Hall. And that was it. Perhaps I was looking for that word all the time, but couldn't put my tongue on it. Other people don't necessarily give you a word or a line, they just throw in the word you're looking for anyway

Paul and I were definitely working together, especially on 'A Day In The Life'. The way we wrote a lot of the time: You'd write the good bit, the part that was easy, like 'I read the news today' or whatever it was. Then when you got stuck or whenever it got hard, instead of carrying on, you just drop it. Then we would meet each other, and I would sing half and he would be inspired to write the next bit, and vice versa. He was a bit shy about it, because I think he thought it was already a good song. Sometimes we wouldn't let each other interfere with a song either, cause you tend to be a bit lax with someone else's stuff; you experiment a bit. I thought it was a damn good piece of work. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the "I read the news today" bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said "yeah" - bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully ...

Paul McCartney: 'It was a song that John brought over to me at Cavendish Avenue. It was his original idea. He'd been reading the Daily Mail and brought the newspaper with him to my house. We went upstairs to the music room and started to work on it. He had the first verse, he had the war, and a little bit of the second verse.'

John got 'he blew his mind out in a car' from a newspaper story. He transposed it a bit - 'blew his mind out' was a bit dramatic. In fact, he crashed his car. But that's what we were saying about history: Malcolm Muggeridge said that all history is a lie, because every fact that gets reported gets distorted. Even in the Battle of Hastings, King Harold didn't die with an arrow in his eye; that's just what the Bayeux tapestry says - they put it in because it looked better. And now if you research Harold, you find he was off somewhere else.

The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don't believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John's head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who'd stopped at some traffic lights and he didn't notice that the lights had changed. The 'blew his mind' was purely a drug reference, nothing to do with a car crash. In actual fact I think I spent more time with Tara than John did. I'd taken Tara up to Liverpool. I was with Tara when I had the accident when I split my lip. We were really quite good friends and I introduced him to John. Anyway, if John said he was thinking of Tara, then he was, but in my mind it wasn't to do with that.

Tara Browne was the son of Lord and Lady Oranmore and Browne, whose great-grandfather was the brewer Edward Guinness. Tara went to Eton and, had he lived, would have inherited 1,000,000 at the age of twenty-five. A charming, likeable boy, with a wide grin and his hair brushed forward in a Beatle cut, he was a great friend of Brian Jones and often stayed overnight tripping on LSD with Brian, Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg at Brian's flat in Courtfield Road. In the book Shutters and Blinds Anita described one trip with him: 'I remember being with Tara Browne on one of the first acid trips. He had a Lotus sportscar and suddenly near Sloane Square everything went red. The lights went red, the trees were flaming and we just jumped out of the car and left it there.'

Tara died in the early hours of the morning of 18 December 1966, while on his way to visit David Vaughan, who was painting a design on the front of Tara's Kings Road shop Dandy Fashions. He smashed his Lotus Elan into the back of a parked van while swerving to avoid a Volkswagen which had pulled out in his path in Redcliffe Gardens in Earls Court. He was twenty-one. The coroner's report on his death was issued in January 1967.


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