A Hard Day’s Night is the Beatles’ third album, and it was released on July 10, 1964 as the soundtrack album for the film of the same name. In 2000, Q magazine placed A Hard Day’s Night at number five on the publication’s list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. Additionally, the album ranked at number 388 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time that was published in 2003.
A Hard Day’s Night opens with the title track, which was written primarily by John Lennon. According to various reports, the title was inspired by an off-the-cuff remark made by Ringo Starr. Musically, it’s an upbeat song that has a sound similar to some of the earlier material by the Beatles; however, you can hear that the production of the music had gotten tighter at this point. This is one of my personal favorites on the album.
Next is “I Should Have Known Better,” which was also primarily written by John Lennon. It opens with the harmonica sound that was common in the Beatles’ early material, and goes into a midtempo piece. “If I Fell” was primarily written by John Lennon, and it’s a slower song. Musically, it sounds a lot like other material coming out at that time. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s a bad song.
This is followed by “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; the song features George Harrison on lead vocals. Musically, there is a rhythm section that has a Bo Diddley influence. “And I Love Her” was written primarily by Paul McCartney, and it’s a ballad. Musically, the song changes keys several times; while this may sound odd, this technique really works for the song. “And I Love Her” is another song that I like on A Hard Day’s Night.
Next is “Tell Me Why,” which was written primarily by John Lennon. Musically, this song has some simple doo-wop chord changes. With this technique, along with the vocal delivery, “Tell Me Why” sounds like a song that could have been recorded by one of the 1960s girl groups. “Can’t Buy Me Love” was written by Paul McCartney, and it’s an uptempo song that has become one of the Beatles’ classics. “Can’t Buy Me Love” is another song that I enjoy on A Hard Day’s Night.
This is followed by “Any Time at All,” which was primarily written by John Lennon. Musically, it sounds a bit like other material being written and released in the early-to-mid 1960s. “I’ll Cry Instead” was written by John Lennon. Musically, it has its roots in country and western. Lyrically, the song seems to be Lennon venting the frustration he felt at the time he wrote the song.
Next is “Things We Said Today,” which was written by Paul McCartney. Lyrically, the song seems to be influenced by frustrating interruptions experienced by people in a relationship. Musically, the song also strongly resembles other songs coming out at that time. Even with that, this is another song that I like on A Hard Day’s Night. “When I Get Home” was written by John Lennon. Musically, it sounds like it had some influence from the Shirelles. There is also a falsetto vocal that appears in the song.
“You Can’t Do That” was written by John Lennon; lyrically, there’s a theme of jealousy. Musically, there’s a hint of an influence from Wilson Pickett. A Hard Day’s Night closes with “I’ll Be Back,” which was written by John Lennon, and it’s been stated that there was a Del Shannon influence on this song. Musically, there’s also a flamenco style acoustic guitar included. Sonically, this is the best song to close the album with.
When listening to A Hard Day’s Night, you can hear that the band was starting to evolve. Looking at the writer credits, you realize that this is the first Beatles album to be comprised of entirely original compositions. Also, when listening to the production, you can hear the sound has become tighter when compared to the first two albums. While the Beatles still had a ways to go to reach their full potential, you can start hearing how the band would begin evolving on A Hard Day’s Night.