Paul McCartney Recalls Recording ‘A Day In The Life’ In New Interview

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

Paul McCartney has recalled recording ‘A Day In The Life’ in a new Q&A posted to his official website.

The Beatle‘s comments arrive in reply to fan question “Do you have a favorite studio to work in, and if so, which would it be?

“There are so many great memories at Abbey Road,” McCartney replies, “It’s very hard to choose one, but just to pick out of the bunch, I think it was recording the orchestra on ‘A Day In The Life’. That was pretty special.”

Considered by many to be the Beatles’ finest single achievement, ‘A Day In The Life’ first appeared on the band’s eighth album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.

With melancholy verses written by John Lennon, an uptempo midsection conceived by McCartney and a staggering instrumental climax, the song saw the Beatles pushing outward as musically, lyrically, conceptually, and also as recording artists.

The song was created over three weeks at Abbey Road Studios.

Work began on the 19th of January 1967 and finished on February 22nd.

While the Beatles had used string sections before, Lennon and McCartney believed ‘A Day In The Life’ demanded nothing short of a full symphony orchestra.

“It was crazy,” McCartney recalls, “we told George Martin that we wanted to use an orchestra and he said, ‘No, no, it’s way too expensive!’ We said, ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re The Beatles, we can do that at this point in our career!’ So, he said okay.”

“Then,” he continues, “once we realized we were going to use a symphony orchestra, he said, ‘Well, if you’re going to hire a symphony orchestra you can tell them what to wear’. We wanted evening suits – full, posh orchestral attire. They came along with that, and we said, ‘Can we really tell them what to wear?’ Yes. So, we suggested that they also wore funny hats and funny noses.”

With the Beatles now regularly experimenting with marijuana and LSD, the sight of a costumed orchestra was but one of several bizarre visions that greeted Abbey Road visitors during the Sgt Pepper’s sessions.

“That was very, very Beatles,” Paul enthuses, “we liked taking it to the extreme. A few people in the orchestra were good sports and put them on, and it was a fun session. That was fabulous to do.”

In the Q&A McCartney also discusses reuniting with George Harrison and Ringo Starr at his private Sussex studio in 1994 to transform unfinished John Lennon demo ‘Free As A Bird‘ into one of the Beatles’ final singles.

“Nobody knew that George, Ringo or myself had got together,” McCartney recounts. “So, it was very cool and it was very private. Those were fabulous sessions. ‘Free As A Bird’ was made with John’s vocal taken from his old cassette demo, and then the three of us played live along with it. It was really exciting, because having him in our ears and playing along with him felt like he was really there, just in another studio. That was a really lovely memory.”

The full Q&A here.

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