You can be a Lennon partisan or a McCartney fan, but the plain truth is that when, as here, they worked together to support each other’s talent, something transformative occurred. While this is another one of the songs for which Lennon took inspiration from the public press, here he projects meaning onto it, rather than just receiving banality. While it is unquestionably Lennon’s song, the record shows the pair wrote the bulk of it together, while of course the off-kilter middle section was a fragment McCartney was working on separately. It’s said he also provided the “I’d love to turn you on” part, and the idea to have the orchestra build to its crescendos. But this is, in the end, a John Lennon song. There is probably no vocal track more feeling in all of rock, which it needed to be to make his poetry in this song plain: Holes are souls, which often have their own holes, and what are we all but holes in the universe, each with our own holes that allow us to live and eventually kill us? That’s what the pair wanted to turn us on to. For the end, some 40 orchestra members ran up their scales for 24 bars, and did it five times. Those five tracks were combined, making for a momentous sound. There is time for a breath, and then a final chord on an army of pianos. That sound goes on for a minute. The rest is silence.
And the lyrics
Best Beatles Song
“A Day in the Life” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as the final track of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written mainly by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney contributing the song’s middle section. Lennon’s lyrics were inspired by contemporary newspaper articles, including a report on the death of Guinness heir Tara Browne. The recording includes two passages of orchestral glissandos that were partly improvised in the avant-garde style. As with the sustained piano chord that closes the song, the orchestral passages were added after the Beatles had recorded the main rhythm track.
A reputed drug reference in the line “I’d love to turn you on” resulted in the song initially being banned from broadcast by the BBC. Since its release on Sgt. Pepper, “A Day in the Life” has been issued as a B-side and also on various compilation albums. Jeff Beck, Barry Gibb and Phish are among the artists who have covered the song. Since 2008, McCartney has included the song in his live performances. It was ranked the 28th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone. In another list, the magazine ranked it as the Best Beatles Song.