A hard look at 'A Hard Day's Night' - Page 2

At 50, the Beatles third album demands a critical re-listen

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STILL FROM 'A HARD DAY'S NIGHT' (1964)
COURTESY UNITED ARTISTS

There are two Lennon songs that truly warm my heart on this album. The first, "When I Get Home," is an ecstatic love song that finds its protagonist rushing home to be with his girl. That he has "a whole lot of things to tell her" suggests he's actually interested in conversing with the girl, not just having sex. And he'll love her the next day too, and accordingly make the same voyage. Now that's love.

Second is the title track. On no other Beatles song is the interplay between John's voice and Paul's more effective. It's difficult to even notice that the vocalist has shifted until the end of the first chorus. But it's the gradual build in emotion that makes this song so brilliant. By the time the chorus is about to transition back into the verse, Paul is emoting relentlessly — and then in comes the verse again, with John's dry voice snapping satisfyingly into place and contrasting icily with Paul's catharsis. This song elevates the album substantially by itself, though A Hard Day's Night remains my least favorite of the Beatles' "great albums" (i.e. the ones with only original songs).

Though I generally avoid discussing my own sentimental attachment to albums in reviewing them, I'll close this review by saying A Hard Day's Night is by far the most important album in my life. As the first rock album I ever listened to, it ended my 12-year streak of aversion to music due to my sensory processing disorder. But I haven't gone back to it much — simply because I listened to eight other Beatles albums immediately afterward, and every single one of them puts A Hard Day's Night to shame.

 

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