100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'Eight Days a Week'
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34. 'Eight Days a Week'

Writers: McCartney-Lennon
Recorded: October 6 and 18, 1964
Released: February 15, 1965
10 weeks; no. 1

The title of "Eight Days a Week" came from a chance remark by a driver chauffeuring McCartney out to Lennon's house. McCartney casually asked the driver if he'd been busy. "Busy?" he replied. "I've been working eight days a week." "Neither of us had heard that expression before," said McCartney. "It was like a little blessing from the gods. I didn't have any idea for it other than the title, and we just knocked it off together, just filling in from the title."

Although McCartney claimed the rest of the song "came quickly," it lacked a beginning, a middle eight and an ending when he and Lennon brought it into the studio. The Beatles tried a variety of approaches, including a wordless harmony for the intro, but stumbled repeatedly getting the melody right. "We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song," Lennon recalled. "But it was lousy anyway."

The Beatles were working at least nine days a week in late 1964, which may account for Lennon's sour take on the song. They'd been touring constantly, had just released A Hard Day's Night in June and were rushed back into a recording studio the week after they returned from America to record a new album and single in time for Christmas. "They were rather war-weary," George Martin said. "They'd been battered like mad throughout 1964, and much of 1963. Success is a wonderful thing, but it is very, very tiring." With little time to write original songs, almost half of the Beatles for Sale LP consisted of covers the group had been playing onstage for years. The same day the Beatles finished "Eight Days a Week," they knocked out seven complete tracks.

Twelve days later, they settled on the final arrangement, with its innovative instrumental fade-in that gives the song the warm, jubilant "feel[ing] like you've heard it before," as Ray Davies of the Kinks told Rolling Stone in 2001.

Beatles for Sale was released in the U.K. in December 1964. Beatles '65, its U.S. counterpart, did not include "Eight Days a Week." The song was released as a single in the U.S. two months later, and it went to Number One. But the Beatles continued to disregard it. It was never a single in the U.K., and in their subsequent two years of radio performances and touring, they never played it live. Despite its popularity, Lennon believes it "was never a good song."

Appears On: Beatles for Sale

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