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Music / Beatles for Sale

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"Oh, I need your love, babe
Guess you know it's true..."

Beatles for Sale is the fourth studio album by The Beatles, released in late 1964.

The album was recorded at a time when the band started to get tired of all the mayhem surrounding them, combined with endless touring and recording. This is reflected in the cover photo (showing all four members unsmiling and exhausted-looking) as well as in the songs, with many being about feeling down and dealing with break-ups or troubled relations. It is further reflected by the presence of six cover songs on the record, after A Hard Day's Night was all originals. In America, Capitol Records divided the album's contents between two releases, Beatles '65 and Beatles VI; it didn't get a US release until the Fab Four's international catalog was standardized in 1987.

Most of the more reflective and insightful lyrics were inspired by Bob Dylan, of whom all the Beatles were great admirers, which shows how the band was gradually Growing the Beard as songwriters.

The album is best known for the hit song "Eight Days a Week" and fan favourites such as "No Reply", "Baby's in Black", and "Rock and Roll Music". It was also dominated by Lennon just as with their prior album A Hard Day's Night, with Lennon taking lead vocals on seven tracks versus three for McCartney (they harmonized on two, with Starr and Harrison getting one each).


Side One

  1. "No Reply"
  2. "I'm a Loser"
  3. "Baby's in Black"
  4. "Rock and Roll Music"
  5. "I'll Follow the Sun"
  6. "Mr. Moonlight"
  7. "Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!"

Side Two

  1. "Eight Days a Week"
  2. "Words of Love"
  3. "Honey Don't"
  4. "Every Little Thing"
  5. "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"
  6. "What You're Doing"
  7. "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"

Principal Members:

  • George Harrison - lead and backing vocals, guitar, African drum
  • John Lennon - lead and backing vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica, tambourine
  • Paul McCartney - lead and backing vocals, bass, guitar, piano, organ
  • Ringo Starr - lead vocals, drums, percussion, tambourine, maracas, timpani, cowbell, packing case, bongos

Eight Tropes a Week:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Lennon's "Pride comes BE-fore a fall" from "I'm a Loser".
  • Album Filler: The album is considered to contain a lot of it. There are six covers the band had been playing since their Quarrymen days (as well as "I'll Follow the Sun", which was one of the first songs Paul McCartney ever wrote). The covers were mostly used to save time, as the band was contractually forced to bring out a new album by Christmas 1964. McCartney himself considered "What You're Doing" to be "a bit of filler" and Lennon referred to "Eight Days a Week" as "lousy".
  • Break Up Song: "No Reply", "I'm a Loser" ("and I've lost someone who's near to me"), "Baby's in Black", "I'll Follow the Sun", "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" ("so I'll go"), "What You're Doing".
  • But Now I Must Go: "I'll Follow the Sun", "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"
  • Careful with That Axe:
  • Country Music: A big influence on "I'm a Loser" and "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"; "Baby's in Black" has some influence from it too.
  • Cover Version: "Rock and Roll Music" (Chuck Berry), "Mr. Moonlight" (Dr. Feelgood and the Interns), "Kansas City"/"Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!" (Little Richard), "Words of Love" (Buddy Holly), "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (both Carl Perkins). This was the last Beatles album to contain a lot of covers.
  • Darker and Edgier: Most of the songs are about feeling down and dealing with break-ups or troubled relations. Even the album title is rather cynical.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Eight Days a Week".
  • Dramatic Timpani: Featured on the chorus of "Every Little Thing".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Ringo is heard banging on one of his drum's packing cases on "Words of Love", which sounded like out of time clapping thanks to a "loose fastening."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The album cover and title show the weariness of the band members about Beatlemania. It's a basic snapshot and a quite uninspired title.
  • Face on the Cover: A group shot of the band.
  • Fade In: "Eight Days a Week" was one of the first pop songs with a fade-in ("Come See About Me" by The Supremes beat it to the record stores by about a month).
  • The Future Will Be Better: "I'll Follow the Sun".
    But tomorrow may rain/ so I'll follow the sun.
  • Grasp the Sun: "I'll Follow the Sun".
  • Grief Song: "Baby's in Black". The woman the singer wants to get with is feeling grief over someone else. Hunter Davies, author of the Beatles' only authorised biography, suggests that the song is about Astrid Kirchherr, who at the time was mourning her fiancĂ©, former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, who had recently died suddenly and unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage; effectively the whole band had been infatuated with Kirchherr.
    Oh dear, what will I do?
    Baby's in black and I'm feeling blue
  • In the Style of:
    • Bob Dylan was an influence on "I'm a Loser".
    • "Baby's in Black" and "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" are strongly reminiscent of The Everly Brothers.
    • The rhythmic hook of "What You're Doing" resembles "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes.
  • "I Want" Song:
    • "Rock 'n Roll Music"
      Just give me some of that rock 'n' roll music/ any old way you choose it
    • Subverted by "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party".
  • Location Song: "Kansas City", about someone going to this place to visit his girlfriend.
  • Love Martyr: The protagonist in "What You're Doing" finally realises he's been mistreated and lied to by his partner for a long time.
  • Love Will Lead You Back:
    I'm going to Kansas City/ to get my baby back home.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "I'm a Loser", "Mr. Moonlight", downplayed with "No Reply".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: All over the place.
    • "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" is about a guy who's just been dumped, has been drinking, and is now out looking for his ex to tell her that he still loves her, set to a bouncy melody.
    • The chorus of "I'm a Loser" ("I'm a loser / And I've lost someone that's near to me / I'm a loser / And I'm not what I appear to be") is one of the most musically exuberant moments in any Beatles song.
    • "I'll Follow the Sun" is a break-up song set to a sweet, upbeat melody. "Someday you'll know I was the one..."
    • "Baby's in Black" is musically upbeat, but it's all but confirmed to be a Grief Song in response to the death of former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe. The "baby" in question is Astrid Kirchherr, Sutcliffe's fiancĂ©e; several of the Beatles had been infatuated with her in Hamburg.
  • Malaproper: "Eight Days a Week" was inspired by Paul hearing someone say they were so busy they were working "eight days a week". The traditional story was that it was a Ringo-ism like A Hard Day's Night and "Tomorrow Never Knows", but more recently Paul has clarified that he heard it from a chauffeur, and Ringo has also denied ever saying it.
  • The Man in the Moon: Kind of, Lennon refers to the light of the moon as a man in "Mr. Moonlight"
  • Medley: "Kansas City"/"Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!". The songs were first paired together by Little Richard.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title does not appear in any of the lyrics.
  • Not Himself: "I'm a Loser"
    Although I act and laugh like a clown/ behind this mask I'm a wearing a frown (...) I'm a loser and I'm not what I appear to be.
  • Oddball in the Series: "Every Little Thing" is the only song in the entire Lennon-McCartney catalog in which one of the partners was the composer (in this case, Paul) but the other partner sang lead vocal (in this case, John).
  • The Power of Love: "Mr. Moonlight", "Every Little Thing", "Honey Don't", "Words of Love".
  • The Power of Rock: "Rock and Roll Music" is a rollicking tune about the love for the genre.
  • Sad Clown: "I'm a Loser"
    Although I laugh and I act like a clown/ behind this mask I'm wearing a frown.
  • Self-Referential Track Placement: "Eight Days a Week" appears as track #8.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Mr. Moonlight". Seriously, thanking the moon for your lover loving you?!? "Eight Days A Week" adds another day to a seven day week.
  • Singer Namedrop: In "Honey Don't", Ringo sings: "Rock on, George, one time for me!" and "Rock on, George, for Ringo one time!"
  • Solar and Lunar: This album has a song about the sun, "I'll Follow the Sun", which is followed by one about the moon, "Mr. Moonlight".
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Ringo sings lead on "Honey Don't" and George sings lead on "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby".
  • There's No Place Like Home: "Kansas City", about a man going back home to this city to meet his girl.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: "Eight Days a Week".
    • The Beatles cartoon of the same name exaggerates it further as movie lover Lips Lovelace can no longer kiss as he's been doing it so long, and Paul says that anybody can kiss:
      Lovelace: Really? Eight days a week? Six weeks a month? Thirteen months a year? It's nothing but kiss, kiss, kiss...oh, my lips can't take it anymore!
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: "Every Little Thing".