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The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

August 27, 2015

Summer Soundtrack Week

Day One: Superfly

Day Two: So I Married an Axe Murderer

Day Three: A Hard Day’s Night

[Album 419/1001]

What is that opening chord?

A question that has haunted Beatle enthusiasts & even academics for years.

I could never quite get it right myself on the guitar…but I think I’m close on the banjo!

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Top 5 reasons even non-Beatle enthusiasts can find something to like here:HardDayUK

5. There’s cowbell!  Ringo’s a little more restrained than he was a few years later on Everybody’s Got Something to Hide…but that instant-smile-generating quarter note percussion still makes a couple of appearances here.

4. A song like And I Love Her has the beautiful contrast between minor chords & optimistic lyrics

3. The song lengths are remarkably even, varying between a minimum of 1:46 and a maximum of 2:43.  To awkwardly modify a Jennifer Garner movie title, that’s pretty efficient to have 13 (tracks) going on (in) 30 (minutes).

2. If you’re a math teacher, side two (the side with the songs not featured in A Hard Day’s Night or 13 Going On 30) lends itself beautifully to lesson intros.

Can you ever have a zero in the numerator of a fraction?  Any Time at All.  How about the denominator?  You Can’t Do That.

At the end of the note, say “remember The Things We Said TodayI’ll Be Back tomorrow if you have any questions.”

Though after some challenging lessons, I fear students may say When I Get Home, I’ll Cry Instead.

1.There are no Beatlemania fans screaming during the songs on the studio album, meaning you can actually hear the music.

And a good thing too, as many of these songs are worth screaming about.

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From → 1960s

24 Comments
  1. You’re three for three so far. These are some great soundtracks!

  2. This is going viral dude! Love it! Nice picking …..and excellent read as well! Bravo !

  3. I think you nailed that chord (though I don’t know banjo at all). I found this on a Beatles web site – I’ve just copied it verbatim, all rights and whatevers to the writers of all this:

    “There have been a number of theories as to the identity of the chord. Over the years, suggestions have included the following:

    A dominant 9th of F in the key of C
    G-C-F-Bb-D-G
    C-Bb-D-F-G-C in the key of C
    A polytriad ii7/V in Ab major
    G7sus4 (open position)
    D7sus4 (open position)
    G7 with added 9th and suspended 4th
    A superimposition of Dm, F, and G
    Gsus4/D
    G11sus4
    G7sus7/A
    Dm11 with no 9th
    Gm7add11
    G9sus4/D

    The chord was confirmed by George Harrison as an Fadd9 during an online chat on 15 February 2001:

    Q: Mr Harrison, what is the opening chord you used for A Hard Day’s Night?
    A: It is F with a G on top (on the 12-string), but you’ll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story.”

    • Thanks Aaron – it sounds like there’s even a bit of percussion on that opening chord too – I tried to hit the snare drum-ish skin of the banjo to replicate but couldn’t quite multitask that much!

  4. Those song title math lessons are top notch! This album’s always been in a weird place for me. I like the songs a lot, but I’d probably put it as my least favourite early album.

    The song Tell Me Why has got to be their most underrated, though. Who couldn’t love the Beatles as a girl group?

    • Thanks Ben – lessons that are probably for a niche audience! I remember awkwardly fitting in ‘i got by with a little help from my friends’ when students helped me correct a mistake I’d made on the board – one student laughed, I’ll call that a modest success!
      That is a fun toe-tapper, personal fave on the album for me was ‘anytime at all.’
      I do find early albums quite interesting, the hints of greatness yet to come.

      • Any Time At All is great. In terms of Beatles early stuff (pre Rubber Soul, I guess) the two soundtracks are my least favourite albums, but have some of the best stand alone tracks. ‘If I Fell’, ‘…Hide Your Love Away’, ‘I’ve Just seen A Face’, the classic singles from that time, etc.

        The other early stuff, as albums, With the Beatles, Please Please Me, and Beatles for Sale are top tier. Depending on my mood I may rate them higher than some late Beatles stuff, but it’s sort of an apples and oranges kind of thing.

      • Hear hear to the strength of the early singles & excellence of most later albums.
        While the beatles as a group are incomparable, interesting to note it’s not even possible to compare albums within their own catalogue – Apples & oranges indeed!

      • Oh, and if you haven’t heard Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies, you must do so as soon as possible! I’m pretty certain you’d love it. I’m sure it’s on the 1001 list.

      • It most certainly is on the 1001 – and you haven’t missed with a recommendation yet Ben, thanks for the suggestion!

  5. Great video accompaniment! That chord sounds about right to my uneducated ears.

    Mrs. LeBrain is more the fan of this period Beatles than I am. I really start to get excited for them on Revolver. Those are the albums I listen to, where she probably prefers the earlier ones.

    Having said all that, brilliant use of the songs in lessons, you’re batting them out of the park these days. Should I call you Geoff Bautista the way you’re hitting homers???

    • Haha, thanks Mike, appreciate the Bautista comparison, though he might not!
      I’m with you on revolver being a real turning point though I’ve changed my tune somewhat about the early records. I used to think the red compilation was sufficient but now I think it’s missing too many key tracks. I guess the whole catalogue is essential after all!

  6. Great post, Geoff! Your video and math lessons are very enjoyable even to this non-banjo player.
    Altogether an excellent series 🙂

    • Thanks Danica, I like to think of myself as not so much a banjo player but a banjo enthusiast!
      I appreciate the feedback – I enjoyed reading weeklong series on other sites in our community, thought I’d join the fun this week!

  7. Great review, loved the twist at the end.

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