The Beatles at their peak were practically unstoppable. Beatlemania swept the world, smashing chart records to pieces. Yet the band were often their worst critics – and John Lennon called one of their biggest hits “lousy”.
On the surface, ‘Eight Days A Week’ is a fun pop song, with some neat moments of invention. A global hit in 1964, it appeared on the ‘Beatles for Sale’ album, melding together some Fab Four harmonies with an inventive fade-in intro.
Part of George Harrison’s blossoming as a guitarist, the central vocals are augmented by his Rickenbacker guitar lines, adapting a folk-rock sensibility to that trademark Lennon & McCartney songwriting.
In a 1980 interview with David Sheff, John Lennon dismissed the single – and attendant film Help! – as being “manufactured”. Going further, the songwriter – known for his caustic wit – even labelled ‘Eight Days A Week’ as “lousy”.
“Help! as a film was like ‘Eight Days A Week’ as a record for us,” Lennon said. “A lot of people liked the film, and a lot of people liked that record. But neither was what we wanted – we knew they weren’t really us. We weren’t ashamed of the film, but close friends knew that the picture and ‘Eight Days’ weren’t our best. They were both a bit manufactured.”
“‘Eight Days A Week’ was the running title for Help! before they came up with Help!” Lennon added. “It was Paul’s effort at getting a single for the movie. That luckily turned to ‘Help!’ which I wrote, bam! bam! – like that, and got the single. ‘Eight Days A Week’ was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.”
Indeed, even at the time The Beatles didn’t seem to be fans – they didn’t play the song live, didn’t use it in their frequent BBC sessions, and only performed it on television once, for Thank Your Lucky Stars.
As a bonus fact: it was seemingly Paul McCartney who came up with the title, a quote from a Beatles chauffeur. Fan lore holds that it’s a Ringo Starr malapropism, but the genial drummer has always denied it.
Re-visit the song now.