The facts are simple. Ringo came up with the title of the song. And in this case the title of the song WAS the song. He didn’t get credited as a writer, but being an easy going kind of guy he let it go.
Being a child of the 80s, my earliest memory of that song is probably the scene in the Zucker Bros. dumber-than-thou comedy “Top Secret”! where the carriage horse transporting Val Kilmer and Lucy Gutteridge is singing “A Hard Day’s Night” in a thick German accent. When said horse starts to cough, the driver explains to Gutteridge that he’s “just a little hoarse.”
I don’t think I gained a real appreciation for the number, however, until suffering through my first all-nighter during my junior year in high school – the result of major procrastination on some term paper or another. Being bulimic at the time, I remember eating an entire package of “Double Stuf” Oreos, puking them up, and watching the sunrise. A hard day’s night, indeed. As I stumbled into class to turn in my paper, those fateful words got stuck on repeat in my hazy brain: “It’s been a hard day’s night / And I’ve been working like a dog / It’s been a hard day’s night / I should be sleeping like a log.”
Since then, there have been a number of hard day’s nights for me – some ecstatic, many miserable. In the ecstatic corner, we have my senior prom – which I spent on the beach in Santa Barbara with a beautiful girl named Elizabeth who killed herself a year or two later – and countless nights of lovemaking throughout my teens and early twenties. In the miserable corner, we have all-nighters for work – many of which have been spent in beige cubicles beneath the unforgiving flicker of fluorescent lights– as well as all-nighters spent fighting with significant others. And then there are the worst all-nighters of all – the ones where you’re holed up in an emergency room somewhere, waiting on pins and needles to find out if the person you’re in there with is going to make it or not.
I must admit, I’ve never given much thought to the rest of the song – all that stuff about coming home to your better half and feeling alright. It’s all about the hard day’s night for me – that’s the spark that continues to capture my imagination, the extent of the loop in my head. It’s funny, but it’s also kind of sad – somewhere between a kvetch and a boast.
This version of “A Hard Day’s Night” comes to you courtesy of another child of the 80s, session singer extraordinaire Kathryn Raio. To my ear at least, Kathryn’s interpretation falls closer to the ecstatic than the miserable end of the all-nighter spectrum. Her sexy, lilting tone drips with delight, and her weariness is the husky kind earned from a hard day’s night of getting it on.
Oh, and that last whispered line about how she feels alright? I totally believe her.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
! So here I am, a 5 foot 3 singer and songwriter whose Napoleon Complex lies somewhere in her throat. Singing dynamically seems to give catharsis.. but also revs me up when I’m tired… Music gives and gives until every time you hear a song you take something else from it, whether intellectual or emotional.