The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

First Hit #1: August 1, 1964

With a chord seemingly created by simultaneously slamming on every instrument in the recording studio, The Beatles again command the attention of the American public. This song gives a bit of an idea of how behind Britain America was when it came to this Beatles thing – it was part of their third album, connected to their first film – and just how prolific the band was in those early days – it was their third album in under two years, and they made a film. Yet, fatigue hadn’t set in since this is possibly the most energetic thing they’ve produced yet. Meant to the main titles to the film of the same name, it’s not just highly energetic, but also throws everything they can at it. This isn’t a complicated song like Brian Wilson was doing in America, it’s mostly got a lot of stuff going with it. They experiment a bit with percussion, throw as much guitar as they can on the track, toss in some organ for kicks, and just push it through with gusto. It sounds like a band that just got money for the first time. Sometimes that can be a disaster, and this teeters on the edge of disaster just because they’ve got so much instrumentation that it borders on on cacophony. It’s clear that they’re standing in awe of the gigantic new toy box spread out in front of them, and want to play with every toy at once – hence that opening chord. But, instead of being a disaster, being perched on the ragged edge gives it energy and drive. It works because the chaos, while barely contained, is contained nonetheless. It works because it’s so close to failing.

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