My 11th Favorite Song of All-Time


“A Day in the Life” by The Beatles

There are (arguably) three main kinds of Beatles songs: the early, wanna-hold-your-hand stuff, the straightforward (but amazing) blackbirdy-I’ve-got-a-feeling type stuff, and then the artsy/experimental stuff like “Piggies” and the completely amazing “A Day in the Life”.  I am a big fan of the second and third types (of course there are random songs in their catalog that are whole new things) but I am a bigger fan of the experimental stuff than I think most people seem to be.

“A Day in the Life” is an epic artistic statement, and it has sections written separately by John and Paul, which is not only a vanishingly rare instance in the songs of the Beatles, but it could not show any clearer the difference in their songwriting approaches.  (John’s big-idea, social criticism, and Paul drawing similar conclusions via small, personal everyday life). Both lyricists skills are at their art-house highest prowess here; if you think John chose to say “He blew his mind out in a car” instead of “He blew his brains out in a car”, or that Paul chose the unpleasant verb of “drag” for the sentence “dragged a comb across my head” lightly or easily, I dare say you’ve probably never worked very long or hard at writing much of anything.  The soaring, disjointed, multi-part music is wholly unique for this band (as well as groundbreaking at the time), and helps tell the story just as much as the lyrics.   The possibilities this song implies set my young mind on fire.

Additionally, this song was my first encounter with having to do some research to figure out what a writer was talking about (and this was pre-Google).  For those not in-the-know, you may encounter these things in the lyrics to this song:

The House of Lords

The 4,000 Holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

The Royal Albert Hall

6 Responses to “My 11th Favorite Song of All-Time”

  1. Duane Eugene Miller Says:

    I could easily spend my entire life (that is literally, every waking moment) listening to The Beatles and it would be a life well spent. But I could say the same thing about Pink Floyd. But no others.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      I think I could agree to that (well, Beatles only. I love Floyd but think I came to them too late in life to have that deep connection with them)

  2. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    Alice in Chains pretty much does their own version of the ‘A Day In The Life’ song structure with their song ‘Don’t Follow’. Of course it’s not as good as this, but what really is? I still enjoy it a lot.

    I’ve known what the Albert Hall is for a while, and now know what the “4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” is thanks to your link, but I’m afraid I don’t get John’s most-likely sly line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall”.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      I do quite enjoy that AIC song! I never made the structure connection to Day in the Life, but you’re right!

      Y’know, I don’t really get that line, either. I wish I did. I was just happy, as a young man, to find out what the fuck the Albert Hall actually WAS. I suspect it’s just a way of saying it’s A LOT of holes, like in England “the Albert Hall” might be a kind of expression punctuation, like “Grand Canyon” might be here. But I’m just spitballing at this point.

  3. oh, man. this is my all-time favorite beatles song. my preferences for the beatles’ catalog split up pretty much the same as yours, seth. in fact, it is entirely your fault that i have any opinion on the beatles whatsoever. so obviously, i’m in your debt. got a kidney with your name on it.

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