“Good Morning Good Morning” is a song written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and recorded by the Beatles, featured on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Inspiration for the song came to Lennon from a television commercial for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Another reference to contemporary television was the lyric “It’s time for tea and Meet the Wife”, referring to the BBC sitcom.
The basic track was recorded on 8 February 1967, with overdubs on 16 February (bass guitar and lead vocals), 13 March (brass section), 28 March (backing vocals and guitar solo), and 29 March (animal noises). The guitar solo was played by Paul McCartney on a Fender Esquire. At Lennon’s request, George Martin brought in Sounds Incorporated to provide the song’s prominent brass backing.
Lennon asked engineer Geoff Emerick to arrange the animal noises heard at beginning (and end) of the song so that each animal heard was one capable of devouring (or frightening) the animal preceding it. The final sound effect of a chicken clucking was so placed that it transforms into the guitar on the following track, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”. These animal noises were inspired by the coda of “Caroline, No” that ended The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album, one of the main inspirations for this whole album. They begin with the crow of a rooster, while the other animal sounds heard at the end of the song include birds, a cat, a dog, a cow, a horse, a sheep, a lion, an elephant, and a group of bloodhounds accompanying fox hunters on horseback with horns blasting.
The rapid 16th note bass drum fills were done on two bass drums according to The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. The length of the mono version of “Good Morning Good Morning” is 2:35, whereas the stereo version (due to a lengthier fade out of animal sounds) runs to 2:41. The 2017 stereo mix follows the editing style of the mono version, and as a result, it is also 2:35.
The song is played at 117 beats per minute, has an unusual rhythmic feel and uses different time signatures. Beats are played in groups of 2, 3 and 4, and time signature changes frequently. Parts with 5
4 and 4
4 bars alternate, with 3
4 transitions. Most of the song uses simple time, where the beats are divided into two, but the middle eight sections use compound time, where the beats are divided into triplets.
The song is divided into seven sections, two of which are repeated once and one twice, in a time-symmetric pattern A, B, C, B, C, B, A (disregarding the fade out of the last bar):
A: 4,4,4,4,4 (introduction: five bars, 20 beats)
B: 5,5,5,3,4,5,4,3,3,4,4 (eleven bars, 44 beats)
C: 5,5,5,3,4,4,4,4,4,4 (contains refrain: ten bars, 42 beats)
B: 5,5,5,3,4,5,4,3,3,4,4 (eleven bars, 44 beats)
C: 5,5,5,3,4,4,4,4,4,4 (contains refrain: ten bars, 42 beats)
B: 5,5,5,3,4,5,4,3,3,4,4 (eleven bars, 44 beats)
A: 4,4,4,4,4,4 (end: six bars, 24 beats, with fade out bar)
This adds up to 64 bars with 260 beats, which at published 117 beats per minute would result in a length of 2:13,333… minutes.
John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocal, rhythm guitar, backing vocal
Paul McCartney – bass, lead guitar, backing vocal, bass drum
George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocal
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
Barrie Cameron – saxophone
David Glyde – saxophone
Alan Holmes – saxophone
John Lee – trombone
Unknown – trombone
Unknown – french horn
Sounds Incorporated – brass
Geoff Emerick – engineer
George Martin – producer
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a song written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and first recorded and released in 1967, on the album of the same name by the Beatles. The song appears twice on the album: as the opening track (segueing into “With a Little Help from My Friends”), and as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”, the penultimate track (segueing into “A Day in the Life”). As the title song, the lyrics introduce the fictional band that performs on the album.
Since its original album release, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” has also been released on various Beatles singles and compilation albums. The song has also been performed by several other artists, including Jimi Hendrix, U2, and a comic interpretation by Bill Cosby, using the opening to John Philip Sousa’s Washington Post March as the instrumental bridge.
In November 1966, on the flight back to England after a holiday, McCartney conceived an idea in which an entire album would be role-played, with each of the Beatles assuming an alter-ego in the “Lonely Hearts Club Band”, which would then perform a concert in front of an audience. The inspiration is said to have come when roadie Mal Evans innocently asked McCartney what the letters “S” and “P” stood for on the pots on their in-flight meal trays, and McCartney explained it was for salt and pepper. This then led to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band concept, as well as the song.
The group’s road manager, Neil Aspinall, suggested the idea of Sgt. Pepper being the compère, as well as the reprise at the end of the album. According to his diaries, Evans may have also contributed to the song. John Lennon attributed the idea for Sgt. Pepper to McCartney, although the song is officially credited to Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles recorded the track in Abbey Road’s studio 2, with George Martin producing, and Geoff Emerick engineering. Work on the song started on 1 February 1967, and after three further sessions the recording was completed on 6 March 1967.
On the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the song opens to the sound of a chattering audience, and an orchestra tuning up, which was taken from the 10 February orchestra session for “A Day in the Life”. The crowd sounds edited into the song were recorded in the early 1960s by Martin, during a live recording of the stage show Beyond the Fringe. The song’s structure is:
Instrumental bridge and transition into “With a Little Help from My Friends”.
The song is in G major, with a 4
4 meter. A horn quartet was used to fill out the instrumental sections.
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” is a modified repeat of the opening song at a faster tempo with heavier instrumentation. The track opens with McCartney’s count-in; between 2 and 3, Lennon jokingly interjects “Bye!” Ringo Starr starts the song proper by playing the drum part unaccompanied for four bars, at the end of which a brief bass glissando from McCartney cues the full ensemble of two distorted electric guitars (played by George Harrison and Lennon), bass, drums and overdubbed percussion. In addition, McCartney overdubbed a Hammond organ part onto the track.
While the first version of the song had stayed largely in the key of G major (except for transient modulation to F and perhaps C in the bridges), the reprise starts in F and features a modulation, to G. The mono and stereo mixes of the song differ slightly: the former has a fractionally different transition from the previous song, and includes crowd noise and laughter in the opening bars that are absent from the stereo mix.
The idea for a reprise was Aspinall’s, who thought that as there was a “welcome song”, there should also be a “goodbye song”. The song contains broadly the same melody as the opening version, but with different lyrics and omitting the “It’s wonderful to be here” section. At 1:18, it is one of the Beatles’ shorter songs (the shortest is “Her Majesty” at 0:23). The reprise was recorded on 1 April 1967, two months after the version that opens the album. At the end of the track, Martin’s pre-recorded applause sample segues into the final track of the album, “A Day in the Life”.
It was originally released in the UK on 26 May 1967, and in the US on 2 June 1967 on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP.
When the Beatles’ recording contract with EMI expired in 1976, EMI were free to re-release music from the Beatles’ catalogue, and in 1978 issued “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”/”With a Little Help from My Friends” as the A-side of a single, with “A Day in the Life” as the B-side. The single was released on Capitol in the US on 14 August (closely following the release there of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film), reaching number 71 on 30 September 1978 where it stayed for two weeks. The single was issued on Parlophone in the UK in September.
Paul McCartney – lead vocal, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, lead guitar
John Lennon – harmony vocal
George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead/rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr – drums
George Martin – organ, producer
Neill Sanders – French horn
James W. Buck – French horn
Tony Randell – French horn
John Burden – French horn
Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass, Hammond organ
John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
George Harrison – lead vocal, lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas
Personnel per Ian MacDonald, Mark Lewisohn and Olivier Julien.
“A Day in the Life” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as the final track of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, the verses were written mainly by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney primarily contributing the song’s middle section. Lennon’s lyrics were inspired by contemporary newspaper articles, including a report on the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne. The recording includes two passages of orchestral glissandos that were partly improvised in the avant-garde style. As with the sustained piano chord that closes the song, the orchestral passages were added after the Beatles had recorded the main rhythm track.
A reputed drug reference in the line “I’d love to turn you on” resulted in the song initially being banned from broadcast by the BBC. Since its release on Sgt. Pepper, “A Day in the Life” has been issued as a B-side and also on various compilation albums. Jeff Beck, Barry Gibb, The Fall and Phish are among the artists who have covered the song. Since 2008, McCartney has included the song in his live performances. It was ranked the 28th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone. In another list, the magazine ranked it as the greatest Beatles song.
John Lennon wrote the melody and most of the lyrics to the verses of “A Day in the Life” in mid January 1967. Soon afterwards, he presented the song to Paul McCartney, who contributed a middle-eight section. In a 1970 interview, Lennon discussed their collaboration on the song:
Paul and I were definitely working together, especially on “A Day in the Life” that was a real … 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’s already a good song … So we were doing it in his room with the piano. He said “Should we do this?” “Yeah, let’s do that.”
According to author Ian MacDonald, “A Day in the Life” was strongly informed by Lennon’s LSD-inspired revelations, in that the song “concerned ‘reality’ only to the extent that this had been revealed by LSD to be largely in the eye of the beholder”. Beatles biographer Jonathon Gould writes that “of the many ambitious pop singles released during the fall of 1966, none had a stronger influence on the Beatles than the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations'”. In a 1968 editorial for Jazz & Pop, writer Gene Sculatti called the single the “ultimate in-studio production trip”, adding that its influence was apparent in songs such as “A Day in the Life”.[nb 1]
According to Lennon, the inspiration for the first two verses was the death of Tara Browne, the 21-year-old heir to the Guinness fortune who had crashed his Lotus Elan on 18 December 1966 in Redcliffe Gardens, Earl’s Court. Browne had been a friend of Lennon and McCartney, and had, earlier in 1966, instigated McCartney’s first experience with LSD. Lennon adapted the song’s verse lyrics from a story in the 17 January 1967 edition of the Daily Mail, which reported the ruling on a custody action over Browne’s two young children.
During a writing session at McCartney’s house in north London, Lennon and McCartney fine-tuned the lyrics, using an approach that author Howard Sounes likens to the cut-up technique popularised by William Burroughs. “I didn’t copy the accident,” Lennon said. “Tara didn’t blow his mind out, but it was in my mind when I was writing that verse. The details of the accident in the song—not noticing traffic lights and a crowd forming at the scene—were similarly part of the fiction.” McCartney expounded on the subject: “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 didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.”
Lennon wrote the song’s final verse inspired by a Far & Near news brief, in the same 17 January edition of the Daily Mail that had inspired the first two verses. Under the headline “The holes in our roads”, the brief stated: “There are 4,000 holes in the road in Blackburn, Lancashire, or one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey. If Blackburn is typical, there are two million holes in Britain’s roads and 300,000 in London.”
The story had been sold to the Daily Mail in Manchester by Ron Kennedy of the Star News agency in Blackburn. Kennedy had noticed a Lancashire Evening Telegraph story about road excavations and in a telephone call to the Borough Engineer’s department had checked the annual number of holes in the road. Lennon had a problem with the words of the final verse, however, not being able to think of how to connect “Now they know how many holes it takes to” and “the Albert Hall”. His friend Terry Doran suggested that the holes would “fill” the Albert Hall.
McCartney said about the line “I’d love to turn you on”, which concludes both verse sections: “This was the time of Tim Leary’s ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ and we wrote, ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ John and I gave each other a knowing look: ‘Uh-huh, it’s a drug song. You know that, don’t you?'”[nb 2] George Martin commented that he had always suspected that the line “found my way upstairs and had a smoke” was a drug reference, recalling how the Beatles would “disappear and have a little puff”, presumably of marijuana, but not in front of him. “When [Martin] was doing his TV programme on Pepper”, McCartney recalled later, “he asked me, ‘Do you know what caused Pepper?’ I said, ‘In one word, George, drugs. Pot.’ And George said, ‘No, no. But you weren’t on it all the time.’ ‘Yes, we were.’ Sgt. Pepper was a drug album.”[nb 3]
Author Neil Sinyard attributed the third-verse line “The English Army had just won the war” to Lennon’s role in the film How I Won the War, which he had filmed during September and October 1966. Sinyard said: “It’s hard to think of [the verse] … without automatically associating it with Richard Lester’s film.”
The middle-eight that McCartney provided for “A Day in the Life” was a short piano piece he had been working on independently, with lyrics about a commuter whose uneventful morning routine leads him to drift off into a dream.[not in citation given] McCartney had written the piece as a wistful recollection of his younger years, which included riding the 82 bus to school, smoking, and going to class. This theme—the Beatles’ youth in the north of England—matched that of “Penny Lane” (a street in Liverpool) and “Strawberry Fields Forever” (an orphanage behind Lennon’s house), two songs written for the album but were released instead as a double A-side single.
The Beatles began recording the song, with a working title of “In the Life of …”, at EMI’s Studio Two on 19 January 1967. The line-up as they rehearsed the track was Lennon on piano, McCartney on Hammond organ, George Harrison on acoustic guitar, and Ringo Starr on congas. The band then taped four takes of the rhythm track, by which point Lennon had switched to acoustic guitar and McCartney to piano, with Harrison now playing maracas.
As a link between the end of the second verse, where Lennon sings “I’d love to turn you on”, and the start of McCartney’s middle-eight, the band included a 24-bar bridge. At first, the Beatles were not sure how to fill this link section. At the conclusion of the session on 19 January, the transition consisted of a simple repeated piano chord and the voice of assistant Mal Evans counting out the bars. Evans’ voice was treated with gradually increasing amounts of echo. The 24-bar bridge ended with the sound of an alarm clock triggered by Evans. Although the original intent was to edit out the ringing alarm clock when the section was filled in, it complemented McCartney’s piece – which begins with the line “Woke up, fell out of bed” – so the decision was made to keep the sound.[nb 4]
The track was refined with remixing and additional parts added on 20 January and 3 February. During the latter session, McCartney and Starr re-recorded their contributions on bass guitar and drums, respectively. Starr later highlighted his fills on the song as typical of an approach whereby “I try to become an instrument; play the mood of the song. For example, ‘Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,’ – boom ba bom. I try to show that; the disenchanting mood.” As on the 1966 track “Rain”, music journalist Ben Edmonds recognises Starr’s playing as reflective of his empathy with Lennon’s songwriting. In Edmonds’ description, the drumming on “A Day in the Life” “transcends timekeeping to embody psychedelic drift – mysterious, surprising, without losing sight of its rhythmic role”.
The orchestral portions of “A Day in the Life” reflect Lennon and McCartney’s interest in the work of avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and John Cage. To fill the empty 24-bar middle section, Lennon’s request to George Martin, the band’s producer, was that the orchestra should provide “a tremendous build-up, from nothing up to something absolutely like the end of the world”. McCartney suggested having the musicians improvise over the segment. To allay concerns that classically trained musicians would be unable to do this, Martin wrote a loose score for the section. Using the rhythm implied by Lennon’s staggered intonation on the words “turn you on”, the score was an extended, atonal crescendo that encouraged the musicians to improvise within the defined framework. The orchestral part was recorded on 10 February 1967 in Studio One at EMI Studios, with Martin and McCartney conducting a 40-piece orchestra. The recording session was completed at a total cost of £367 (equivalent to £6,113 in 2016) for the players, an extravagance at the time. Martin later described explaining his score to the puzzled orchestra:
What I did there was to write … the lowest possible note for each of the instruments in the orchestra. At the end of the twenty-four bars, I wrote the highest note … near a chord of E major. Then I put a squiggly line right through the twenty-four bars, with reference points to tell them roughly what note they should have reached during each bar … Of course, they all looked at me as though I were completely mad.
McCartney had originally wanted a 90-piece orchestra, but this proved impossible. Instead, the semi-improvised segment was recorded multiple times, filling a separate four-track tape machine, and the four different recordings were overdubbed into a single massive crescendo. The results were successful; in the final edit of the song, the orchestral bridge is reprised after the final verse.
The Beatles hosted the orchestral session as a 1960s-style happening, with guests including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Donovan, Pattie Boyd, Michael Nesmith, and members of the psychedelic design collective The Fool. Overseen by Tony Bramwell of NEMS Enterprises, the event was filmed for use in a projected television special that never materialised.[nb 5] Reflecting the Beatles’ taste for experimentation and the avant garde, the orchestra players were asked to wear formal dress and then given a costume piece as a contrast with this attire. This resulted in different players wearing anything from fake noses to fake stick-on nipples. Martin recalled that the lead violinist performed wearing a gorilla paw, while a bassoon player placed a balloon on the end of his instrument.
At the end of the night, the four Beatles and some of their guests overdubbed an extended humming sound to close the song – an idea that they later discarded. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, the tapes from this 10 February orchestral session reveal the guests breaking into loud applause following the second orchestral passage. Among the EMI staff attending the event, one recalled how Ron Richards, the Hollies’ producer, was stunned by the music he had heard; in Lewisohn’s description, Richards “[sat] with his head in his hands, saying ‘I just can’t believe it … I give up.'” Martin later offered his own opinion of the orchestral session: “part of me said ‘We’re being a bit self-indulgent here.’ The other part of me said ‘It’s bloody marvellous!'”
Following the final orchestral crescendo, the song ends with one of the most famous final chords in music history. Overdubbed in place of the vocal experiment from 10 February, this chord was added during a session at EMI’s Studio Two on 22 February. Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Evans shared three different pianos, with Martin on a harmonium, and all played an E-major chord simultaneously. The chord was made to ring out for over forty seconds by increasing the recording sound level as the vibration faded out. Towards the end of the chord the recording level was so high that listeners can hear the sounds of the studio, including rustling papers and a squeaking chair.
Also present at the session was David Crosby of the Byrds. He recalled his reaction to hearing the completed song: “man, I was a dish-rag. I was floored. It took me several minutes to be able to talk after that.” Due to the multiple takes required to perfect the orchestral cacophony and the final chord, the total time spent recording “A Day in the Life” was 34 hours. In contrast, the Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me, had been recorded in its entirety in only 10 hours, 45 minutes.
On the Sgt. Pepper album, the start of “A Day in the Life” is cross-faded with the applause at the end of the previous track, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”. On the Beatles’ 1967–1970 compilation LP, the crossfade is cut off, and the track begins abruptly after the start of the original recording, but on the soundtrack album Imagine: John Lennon and the CD versions of 1967–1970, the song starts cleanly, with no applause effects.
Following “A Day in the Life” on the Sgt. Pepper album (as first released on LP in the UK and years later worldwide on CD) is a high-frequency 15-kilohertz tone and some randomly spliced Beatles studio babble. The tone is the same pitch as a dog whistle, at the upper limit of human hearing, but within the range that dogs and cats can hear. This penultimate touch was part of the Beatles’ humour. McCartney would recall how the Beatles thought: “Imagine there are people sitting around and they think the album’s finished and then suddenly the dog starts barking and no one will know what the heck’s happened.” The studio babble, titled in the session notes “Edit for LP End”, and recorded two months after the mono and stereo masters for “A Day in the Life” had been finalised, was added to the run-out groove of the initial British pressing. The two or three seconds of gibberish would loop back into itself endlessly on any record player not equipped with an automatic phonograph arm return. There are even a few variations of the inner groove on different LP pressings. Some listeners have discerned words among the vocal gibberish, Lennon’s saying “been so high”, followed by McCartney’s response: “never could be any other way.”
The Anthology 2 album, released in 1996, featured a composite remix of “A Day in the Life”, including elements from the first two takes, representing the song at its early, pre-orchestral stage, while Anthology 3 included a version of “The End” that concludes by having the last note fade into the final chord of “A Day in the Life” (reversed, then played forwards). The version on the 2006 soundtrack remix album Love has the song starting with Lennon’s intro of “sugar plum fairy”, with the strings being more prominent during the crescendos. In 2017, a handful of outtakes from the recording sessions, including the first take, were included on the two-disc and six-disc versions of the 50th-anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper. The six-disc version of that edition also included, on a disc of mono mixes, a previously unreleased early demo mix of the song in its pre-orchestral stage, as of 30 January. 
BBC radio ban
The song became controversial for its supposed references to drugs. The BBC announced that it would not broadcast “A Day in the Life” due to the line “I’d love to turn you on”, which, according to the corporation, advocated drug use. Other lyrics allegedly referring to drugs include “found my way upstairs and had a smoke / somebody spoke and I went into a dream”. A spokesman for the BBC stated: “We have listened to this song over and over again. And we have decided that it appears to go just a little too far, and could encourage a permissive attitude to drug-taking.”[nb 6] The ban was eventually lifted on 13 March 1972.[nb 7]
John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, piano (final chord)
Paul McCartney – lead vocal (middle-eight), piano (throughout and final chord), bass guitar
George Harrison – maracas
Ringo Starr – drums, congas, piano (final chord)
George Martin – producer and harmonium (final chord)
Geoff Emerick – engineering and mixing
Orchestrated by George Martin
Conducted by George Martin (with Paul McCartney)
Mal Evans – alarm clock, counting, piano (final chord)
John Marson – harp
Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D. Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott, Carlos Villa – violin
John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – viola
Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Delziel, Alex Nifosi – cello
Cyril Mac Arther, Gordon Pearce – double bass
Roger Lord – oboe
Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – clarinet
N. Fawcett, Alfred Waters – bassoon
Clifford Seville, David Sandeman – flute
Alan Civil, Neil Sanders – french horn
David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – trumpet
Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T. Moore – trombone
Michael Barnes – tuba
Tristan Fry – timpani
Marijke Koger – tambourine