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Music / A Hard Day's Night

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"It's been a hard day's night..."

— The very first note on the album

A Hard Day's Night is the third studio album by The Beatles, released in 1964. In the US, the album was released with a different track-listing as the soundtrack to the film of the same name.

Noteworthy for being the first Beatles album to feature all-original material, it is the only album the Beatles ever made that was solely written by Lennon-McCartney. The other early albums all had cover songs, while the later ones all had at least one George Harrison (and/or Ringo Starr) composition each. It's also dominated by Lennon like no other Beatles record, as he's the primary composer on ten of the thirteen songs. Tracks like "A Hard Day's Night", "And I Love Her", and "Can't Buy Me Love" were hit singles, while "If I Fell" and "Things We Said Today" have become fan favorites.


Side One

  1. "A Hard Day's Night" (2:34)
  2. "I Should Have Known Better" (2:43)
  3. "If I Fell" (2:19)
  4. "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" (1:56)
  5. "And I Love Her" (2:30)
  6. "Tell Me Why" (2:09)
  7. "Can't Buy Me Love" (2:12)

Side Two

  1. "Any Time at All" (2:11)
  2. "I'll Cry Instead" (1:44)
  3. "Things We Said Today" (2:35)
  4. "When I Get Home" (2:17)
  5. "You Can't Do That" (2:35)
  6. "I'll Be Back" (2:24)

Principal Members:

I'm Happy Just To Trope With You:

  • Big "WHY?!": "Tell Me Why"
    Tell me why-I-I-I-I
  • Break Up Song: "Tell Me Why" where the protagonist wonders why their relationship ended, "I'll Be Back" where he says he'll leave when she breaks his heart but will be back again nevertheless and "I'll Cry Instead", where he has all kinds of intentions, but decides to cry instead over the broken relationship.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: "Can't Buy Me Love" in which the protagonist feels that he doesn't care for money, "'cause money can't buy me love".
  • Careful with That Axe: The "AAAAAAAAW" scream in the middle of "Can't Buy Me Love".
  • Cult Soundtrack: To the movie of the same name.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You".
    Just to dance with you, it's everything I need
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover is in black-and-white.
  • Face on the Cover: A group of photographs featuring each band member, lifted from the film's poster.note  The alternative cover shows only four of those, up until their eyes.
  • The Future Will Be Better: "Things We Said Today" was described by Paul as "reverse nostalgia", reflecting on how they will remember what they said "today" years from now.
    Someday when we're dreaming
    Deep in love, not a lot to say
    Then we will remember
    Things we said today
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "You Can't Do That" in which the singer tells his girl:
    I've got something to say that might cause you pain
    If I catch you talking to that boy again
    I'm gonna let you down and leave you flat
    Because I told you before, oh, you can't do that
  • Jangle Pop: This album is a massive influence on the genre. Harrison acquired a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar during recording, and is featured prominently throughout, including providing the opening chord on the title track.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • Inverted with "A Hard Day's Night," which kicks off the album with an in-your-face, dissonant Dm7add11 chord on the guitar, accompanied by a piano chord.
    • After starting out in C# minor and shifting to D minor, "And I Love Her" ends on a somewhat jarring, previously unheard D major chord (an upward shift that musicologists call a "Picardy third", which is often associated with hymns).note 
  • Love Will Lead You Back:
    • "A Hard Day's Night"
      But when I get home to you/ I find the things that you do/ will make me feel alright...
    • "When I Get Home"
      I've got no time for trivialities
      I've got a girl who's waiting home for me tonight
    • "I'll Be Back"
      You, if you break my heart I'll go
      But I'll be back again
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "You Can't Do That." Although the singer threatens only to dump the girl, his reasoning makes it creepy—"That's the second time I caught you talking to him." That's a reason to end a relationship?
  • Malapropism: The album title was supposedly a phrase by Ringo Starr, who after a long day of work said: "It's been a hard day," then noticed it was actually dark outside and added: "...'s night." However, it also appears in Lennon's book In His Own Write which came out while they were shooting the film, so there is some doubt as to who originated it.
  • Misogyny Song:
    • "You Can't Do That" is from the POV of a jealous, possessive boyfriend who does not like his woman talking to any other men at all. Lennon later regarded the lyrics as an Old Shame.
      I've got something to say that might cause you pain
      If I catch you talking to that boy again,
      I'm gonna let you down,
      And leave you flat
      Because I told you before, OH,
      You can't do that.
    • "I'll Cry Instead" also counts (though it's more in the realm of a Power Fantasy for a guy who just got his heart broken).
      I'm gonna hide myself away
      But I'll come back again someday
      And when I do you'd better hide all the girls
      I'm gonna break their hearts all round the world
  • Musical Squares: The original British version had various squares filled with the Beatles' heads, while the American version used a similar four-square cover to Let It Be that only showed the Beatles' foreheads.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Things We Said Today".
  • Questioning Title?: "Tell Me Why?".
  • Scare Chord: "A Hard Day's Night" starts off with one.
  • Silly Love Songs: "A Hard Day's Night", "I Should Have Known Better", "If I Fell", "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You", "And I Love Her", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Any Time at All", "Things We Said Today", "When I Get Home"
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • George Harrison sings lead vocals on "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You", and co-lead vocals on "Tell Me Why" and "I'll Be Back". On the other hand, this is one of the few Beatles albums where Ringo doesn't get any vocals.
    • As mentioned above, John Lennon dominates this album, leaving just three full Paul McCartney lead vocals ("And I Love Her", "Cant Buy Me Love", "Things We Said Today").
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "And I Love Her", as an acoustic, Latin-tinged ballad with some fairly mature Silly Love Song sentiments, was a big departure for the group at the time, and was the first Beatles song to gain the attention of the traditional pop music community.
  • Title Track: "A Hard Day's Night".
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "And I Love Her" shifts keys (from C# minor to D minor) starting with the guitar solo, the first Beatles song to do so, and definitely a popularizer for this technique in Rock songs.