Lecture 4: 1964 America and a Hard Day’s Night.
1963 produced greater music:
- Memorable tunes /danceable beats – upbeat numbers, designed to
be ‘dance’ : Initially like the Everly Brothers, before moving on and
rising. Three part harmony with Lennon.
- Fascinating vocal harmonies
- Varied song structures (song that began with a chorus – She Loves
- New instrumentalism and arrangements – their music did not
sound like anyone else’s
- Skilled musicianship
- Infectiously enthusiastic performances
- A rich blend of stylistic influences rock and roll, do-wap, Motown,
show tunes, ballads etc. : Vast repertoire of songs, with numerous
effects within the songs.
- Their work was concise, effects were never overstated variations
appeared in repeated passages
- They were well edited by George Michael – brought an aesthetic
that tempered the experimentalism of the Beatles’ song(s).
- George Harrison was becoming an iconic guitarist
- McCartney was a thinker of melody – “All My Loving” – creating a
counter melody through going down in the bass.
- Cohesive group of 4 leaderless individuals.
- Strong personalities – John (aggressive, sharp intellect, caustic
wit); Paul (charm, tact, boy-next-door); George (quiet, lop-sided
smile); Ringo (funny name, comedian, lovable, butt of the other’s
- Shifted the spotlight from member to member.
- Also had a certain look - the Beatles ‘moptop’ look.
- A gentle friction between the generations who were present
during their time – the older generation who disapproved, whereas
the younger who didn’t.
Conformity v Rebellion
- A mildly anti-establishment stance
- Uncompromisingly working class and provincial
- Witty and cheeky humor.
Example: Number 4: Royal Common Variety Performance
- Cultivated female teenage following
- Musical/textual formulas (“me-you”, “Oooo”) – subtly suggestive lyrics.
- The time was right
- British teenagers had been fed a sugary diet of innocent love
- Harder edge and suggestiveness was new and interesting.
(reminiscent of mid 50s rock and roll)
- Baby boomer generation (Post WWII) in need of an ethos and an
identity different from the previous generation, waiting for a
symbol of the different – Beatlemania.
“I Want To Hold Your Hand”
- Recorded Oct 17. Released 29, 1963.
- Fourth conservation No.1
- Biggest seller ever
- Quite conventional – with the middle eight, which contrasts with
the verses; no special effects.
- Analysis: Kozinn – innocent declaration of the title contrasts with
the music (particularly the octave leap) leading into the refrain
displays undisguised sexual tension. The middle section
emphasizes the forced restraint.
- B-side: “This Boy – contrast, sumptuous vocal harmonies.
- Desperate to “make it” in USA
- Home of their musical heroes (Chuck Perry, Elvis, Buddy Harry)
- Biggest market
- Symbol of opportunity and wealth
- Strategy: to get #1 hit in USA, then capitalize on it
- But early UK hits got little play in USA –Capitol Records (EMI in
Epstein in USA
- Very few people were listening to the Beatles hits from the UK.
- Epstein visited New York in Nov 1963
- Persuaded Capitol to reconsider
- Negotiated with Ed Sullivan for top billing on 3 consecutive shows
in Feb 1964, accepted reduced fee for their show.
- He wanted to get the Beatles into the national consciousness.
- December: Carroll James (disc-jockey in DC) generated
enthusiasm by playing Beatles’ records (“I Want To Hold Your
- Swan & Vee Jay sued by Capitol – pushed up all their dates to
capture the rising phenomena of the Beatles. Beatles in Paris
- January 1964
- Recording German versions of #1 hits
- Highly productive: new material
- Played Olympia Theatre
- Heard about US #1
First US Visit
- Ed Sullivan Show, Sunday Feb 9
- 73 million TV viewers
- Felicitation from Elvis Presley
- Documentary: What’s Happening! The Beatles in the USA (1990:
The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit
- Telegram from Elvis Presley and the Colonel congratulating them
on making it on the Ed Sullivan show.
Effects of “Beatlemania”
- Beatles at first enjoyed the attention
- Went from being "a thrilling, laugh-filled adventure to a
suffocating, sometimes dangerous exercise in banality,
decadence, and potential creative atrophy" (Hertsgaard, p.87)
- Physically trapped by their fame
- Could not hear themselves
- Played same live set of 10-12 pieces
- Ensemble playing deteriorates – deterioration because of the
inability to hear each other.
- Stopped performing publicly in 1966. The screaming, pushing aura
associated with their concert(s) became the norm for them.
Back to England
- “Can’t Buy Me Love” – blues-based rocker by McCartney (original
was more bluesy- Mowtowny)
- New opening: no drums in the intro
- Outro: tom-toms only
- Blues harmonies for verses (I – IV – V) – basic 12 bar blues
- Harmonies change from blues for Bridge, which also serves as
chorus (III – VI – II7 – V7) – modulation to relative minor
- Bridge used as opening “hook” (GM) – minor tonality, but still has
the sense of the refrain.
Cf. “She Loves You”
Battle for the A-side
- Fifth #1 - Element of competition?
- Who got the A-side?
- Predominantly Lennon on the A-side – one side’s song usually
marketed as the ‘main song’
- A competitive partnership between Lennon and McCartney.
“You Can’t Do That”
- B-side “You Can’t Do That” – by Lennon, a similarly bluesy number
with harder edge
- Bridge: modulation to relative minor
- Use of cowbell to reinforce beat
- Lennon sings angrily of his jealousy – some say his lead guitar
playing demonstrates rage with its “constricted, sputtering
sequence of bent notes and rapid-fire seventh chords”
- Also taking part with Harrison in the guitar solo, very effective
- In the face of Beatlemania, how did the Beatles continue to make
- The studio was a different kind of creative space
- Experimentation – creative opportunity for them.
- George Martin facilitated and encouraged an attention to detail
and to new musical ideas
- A growing gap between public performances and private/studio
A Hard Day’s Night
- United Artists wanted to capitalize on Beatles’s fame and sales
potential in late 1963
- Negotiated with Epstein for a low-budget film
- (Cf. Elvis, Cliff Richard, etc.)
- Dick Lester – director for a black & white film.
- Alun Owen – script – picked up on the Beatles lifestyle and ideals
along with class consciousness.
- Idea: to portray the Beatles as “distinct but complementary
individuals buoyed and trapped by their success”
- Turned out to be tremendous on-screen personalities – ‘magnetic’
Filming / recording
- Filming Mar 2 – Apr 24
- Recording March – June
- Soundtrack album to include songs used in the film a