Deep Beatles: “Eight Days A Week” from Beatles For Sale (1964)

The year was 1985; the scene, Mr. Tantillo’s eighth-grade chorus class. On Fridays, students were allowed to bring in their own music so we could “experience” diverse tastes. (As I look back, I think Mr. Tantillo just needed a break from teaching a bunch of hormone-riddled preteens five days a week.) Fully immersed in popular artists of the day — Duran Duran, Wham!, and Whitney Houston — I barely paid attention when a fellow student stuck a cassette into the classroom’s tape deck. Suddenly guitars faded in, and verse one began:

Ooh I need your love, babe
Guess you know it’s true
Hope you need my love, babe
Just like I need you

By the time the hand-clapping powered chorus rang out, I looked up from doodling in my spiral notebook. Who was this? I’d never heard anything that catchy before, and it sounded completely different from anything on the radio. I wandered over to the stereo, where a cassette box had been carelessly tossed aside. Picking up the plastic case, I read the title: 20 Greatest Hits by The Beatles. Oh yeah, I had heard of them — my father, who plays several instruments, often played some of their songs on his guitar. A former babysitter used to moon over Paul McCartney, but being just a kid, I had tuned her out. Well, I thought, I guess I should give them another listen. After school, I convinced my mother to drive me to Rose Records (a Chicago-based record store chain), and I purchased the 20 Greatest Hits collection. Since that day, I’ve never looked back.

As I purchased more and more albums, I also read as much as I could about the band and watched the Compleat Beatles documentary on VHS tape repeatedly. When I had finished buying the whole Beatles catalog — the American releases, of course — I moved on to solo albums. By the early 1990s, I subscribed to Beatlefan magazine, and soon applied for a brand-new position: internet columnist. To use a bad Beatles pun — yes, I passed the audition. Today, I still write that column, “Hard Day’s Net,” which covers various Beatles and solo sites on the web.

Then in 2000, I made the ultimate rock pilgrimage: I visited Liverpool, where I stood before the Strawberry Field gates, drove down Penny Lane, and gazed at the Fab Four’s childhood homes. In London, I stared in wonder at the former Apple headquarters, pondering what it would have been like to witness their final rooftop performance. I’ve attended the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans every year since the early 1990s, and have had the honor of meeting players in Beatles history: Klaus Voormann, Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers, the late Billy Preston, and original Beatles drummer Pete Best. What began as a mild interest turned into a hobby and passion that has greatly enriched my life.

DIG DEEPER INTO THE BEATLES!
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Therefore, I am excited to begin this new column for Something Else!, “Deep Beatles.” Each column will spotlight songs from the Beatles and solo years’ catalogs that radio may not play on a regular basis, but are hidden gems. I look forward to exploring their songs with you, and focusing on tracks that deserve more attention. Your comments and thoughts are welcome, too, as engaging in dialogue about their music is one of the many pleasures of being a Beatles fan.

While not necessarily a “deep track,” I’ll kick off this column with “Eight Days A Week,” the song that hooked me 27 years ago. A song fading out at the end was common, but here the guitars gradually fade in at the beginning, which instantly demands the listener’s ear. As evidenced on the Anthology collection, the Beatles experimented with earlier versions of the song, including adding an “ooo” vocal in lieu of the fade in. But the group wisely chose the experimental introduction. As for the typically humorous title (reminiscent of “A Hard Day’s Night”), McCartney has offered two explanations for the unusual wording. In 1984 he claimed it stemmed from a Ringo Starr malapropism; in another interview he recalled it being a statement from his then-chauffeur.

Interestingly, John Lennon thought “Eight Days A Week” was one of their weaker tunes; in 1972, Lennon stated that “we struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his (Paul’s) initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.” Regardless of Lennon’s subsequent opinion, “Eight Days A Week” stands as a stellar illustration of their pop sensibilities, a textbook example of writing a memorable song with lyrics and chord changes that linger with the listener long after the record ends.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

5 Comments

  1. Nice job Kit. Looking forward to more articles in the future. I’m sure I heard the Beatles lots as a kid (my mother is a child of the 60s and played all those old pop records) but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really fell in love.

    Oddly enough at first I only loved the early stuff and pretended to hate the later, obviously drug inspired, later stuff. Really I was just trying to be cool by not digging all the songs everybody else loved. But then at some point I switched and decided the early stuff was lame and the later songs were awesome.

    Then I got over myself and realized its all pretty phenomenal.

  2. Karen Stoessel says:

    OK Kit…ya got me! Great article as always. And if you ever need to interview a Paul girl who cried at the Comisky Park or Ampitheatre Concerts…I’m that girl! Keep ‘em coming!!!!

  3. Gordon Hauptfleisch Gordon Hauptfleisch says:

    Great series! Looking forward to new installments.

    When the Beatles first came over, my grandmother showed me, at age nine, the Life Magazine that just came, with the group looking so cocky on the cover– and then there was the hair! I’m ashamed to admit this now, but I took an immediate dislike and doodled all over their faces. Of course, I hadn’t heard the music yet but I soon-enough became a fan, in spite of myself. I wasn’t overly-keen on “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” though, but I flipped when I heard “Please Please Me–that was the clincher, and I never looked back (though, as the resident Beatles fan (my brother was into the Rolling Stones, we sometimes had British Invasion Battles in the room we shared) I had to walk on eggshells during the scandalous “more popular than Jesus” daze.

    Then there were the teen girls down sat the end of the cul-de-sac–avid George Harrision fanatics (heard his sister a few years ago at a Beatles convention)– who made a practice of sitting in daddy’s T-Bird convertible screaming at the top of their lungs like they were Beatlemaniacs at concert or in the Ed Sullivan Show.

    Speaking of which, I was so angry once when our family, at a visit to family friends and watching TV, decided to leave right at the 8pm starting time. My folks couldn’t understand what “the big deal” was (though in as couple years my mother, a professional performer who also was the arranger in an all-female pop/folk group, needed to borrow my Beatles records to learn some of their songs before they toured at various state fairs, USO shows overseas, etc.

    I still remember their versions of “All My Loving,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and “With a Little Help with My Friends,” though I’m pretty sure they altered the “get a little high with my friends” line…

  4. Linda Landis Andrews says:

    Did you see the book about “Revolver” being discussed on “Chicago Tonight,” tonight? The author talked about how Paul gradually overtook John as the star of the Fab Four and the evolution from love songs to searching-the-soul songs. Congratulations, Kit, on “Deep Beatles”!

    linda

  5. Something New was a really important album for me as a kid, and I am listened to it the other day to get my energies flowing for a Beatle-related writing project. Any Time At All is a great example of how L/M espoused reciprocity and equality in male-female relationships.

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