Beatles: A Day In The Life Meaning
Song Released: 1967
A Day In The Life Lyrics
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:
Some of the interpretations of this song are way off base. This song is actually comprised of two songs that John and Paul put together. John constantly read newspapers about world events and was often fascinated by them. When he says, "I read the news today, oh boy," he means it quite literally.
The first verse is about the newspaper story about the guiness heir's (lucky man who made the grade) fatal car accident. He ran an intersection and was killed. At the scene, the passersby thought they recognized him as someone famous.
The second verse is literally about a movie that John had saw. The movie was a flop, but John found it interesting because he had read the book. The last line in the second verse is a throwaway line, and true to john's love to put sexual innuendo in his songs, it is simple and suggestive.
Originally, the song had 24 bars of dead time that John didn't know what to do with. It started with an alarm clock that had went off in the studio (by accident) and was left on the four track tapes. Paul was working on a simple song about a typical hectic day in a working joe's life. He sings the third verse about this uneventful morning.
The final verse was about another newspaper story John had read. The english government had spent a fortune counting potholes in the streets of blackburn lancashire. He thought it was absurd to spend the money that way instead of fixing the streets.
It really is that simple. The crescendo's of the orchestra were paul's idea to give the song drama. The final notes were made by bringing a bunch of grand pianos in the studio and having all of the beatles, george martin and geoff emerick pound the chord and then turn the recording volume up gradually to make the chord last as long as possible.
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Apr 20th 2013 report
Guys its 'a day in the life' and whatever john and paul decided to write on that day. Yes, it's that simple. Yes, they were that good. No, it won't ever be duplicated. It doesn't always have to be cryptic and ridiculous.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:anonymous Jul 17th 2007 report
Death and time lay men and nations low, but life, though short, can have brief meaning, through drugs and intense human relationships, including of a sexual nature. Such is this writer's subjective interpretation of “A Day In the Life,” based on the following line-by-line analysis.
''I read the news today, oh, boy.'' An anonymous narrator seeks information about the world outside his own life. He reads a newspaper, a chronicle of the undifferentiated, relentless march of human events. “Oh, boy” is a euphemism for “Oh, God” — an exclamation of surprise, fear, powerlessness in the face of reality. In the vein of the bromide that declares that mediocre minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas, the narrator is seeking information through the media beyond that which is available in the course of ordinary, narcissistic personal experience.
''About a lucky man who made the grade.'' Our narrator overlays irony over this line. The individual has been blessed by fortune, in the sense that he has “made the grade” — achieved material or worldly success. On a deeper level, one who dies because of inattention in a traffic accident is the opposite of “lucky.” He is in fact cursed, doomed — a victim of the fate that claims us all in the end. This sarcasm expresses uneasiness about the transitory nature of temporal human ambitions.
''And though the news was rather sad, well I just had to laugh; I saw the photograph. He blew his mind out in a car; he didn’t notice that the lights had changed.'' The narrator, while acknowledging the tragedy of the accident, reflexively, automatically (“had to”) employs sarcasm as a defense mechanism against the awful reality: death is a fate that spares no-one. “Blow your brains out”: to commit suicide with a firearm. “Blew his mind out” substitutes “mind” for “brain,” indicating fatal head injury in an accident that is suicidal in the sense that the driver caused his own demise, if not with intent then certainly with the same outcome. “Blow your mind”: to be amazed, to be stunned by new awareness or insight by information coming from outside the boundaries of familiar experience. And death is certainly the ultimate alien experience — the one true “alienation” experienced universally. All of which is suggestive of the fact that we live in utter ignorance of the nature of death, the ultimate truth which defines our lives by virtue of being the opposite of life. Not noticing that the traffic signal had changed describes one running a stoplight and dying in a collision: a mundane, relatively meaningless demise suffered by many. Meaningless, because death results from so small an action as being distracted for a moment while behind the wheel.
''A crowd of people stood and stared; they’d seen his face before. Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords.'' The anonymous crowd is gripped by impolite, morbid curiosity; the vicarious thrill derived from viewing death first-hand — from the knowledge that someone has died, but not me: I am still alive. Of course, death is the most important fact, and ultimately the defining reality, of human experience. However, the nature of that experience cannot be accessed second-hand. The anonymous, gaping street crowd degrades the significance of this event, reducing what should be a moment of solemnity to an opportunity to access cheap thrills. This member of the House of Lords — a British political institution of long tradition — has political power and inherited wealth. Such an individual might be known to average people through glimpses in the media, but these people would have no occasion to be personally acquainted with him: to the mass of people on the street, he is no more recognizable than a face on a television screen or in a newspaper photograph — an abstraction, representing a distant, governing elite. This individual is separated — alienated — from the rest of us by his power and privilege. However, the commonness of his death proves that his privileged status is an illusion.
''I saw a film today, Oh, boy. The English Army had just won the war. A crowd of people turned away. But I just had to look, having read the book.'' The anonymous narrator, continuing to seek information about the wider world, is again struck by his insignificance, as signified by his invocation of the euphemism for the religious exclamation “Oh, God.” Again discarding the oblique mechanisms of symbolic allusion, the narrator references a historical event in which the armed forces of a named country — the United Kingdom — is victorious in an unnamed war. The unspecified triumph of British arms in war symbolizes Britain’s temporal greatness or significance. But in the same way that individual achievement fades into the past, the greatness of the English nation has become a matter of history — whether fictional or documentarized, we are not told, and it does not matter: this is merely a “film.” The point being made is that this unspecified British victory is an irrelevancy from which the anonymous audience of moviegoers literally turns away. Standing in contrast (more likely, sitting) is our protagonist, whose desire to acquire knowledge finds special expression in the act of viewing a film regarding a subject in which he is interested enough to have not only read a book about it, but to have then sought additional information on this specific topic. However, the majority does not share the narrator’s interest. By implication, the meaningless death of one man in a car accident today is more interesting to society than a monumental achievement of the storied, historic English army. What this describes is a society severed from any connection to its past.
''I’d love to turn you on.'' “To turn on” is of course a double entendre, meaning either “to excite sexually” or “to provide access to drugs or to a drug experience.” In the face of these events, the narrator is declaring that access to a deeper, more-meaningful level of existence — or even mere diversion from these melancholic facts — is available by means of intense, shared interpersonal experiences, including sexual relationships, mind-altering drugs, or both.
''Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.''
Waking up is the first action any individual must make in a given day — an action that is in a sense involuntary and paradoxical, in that the act of waking up is automatic, requiring no free will. The need to rise from sleep is inevitable, a rigid fact of existence, like the cycles of nature, and therefore inescapable. In a way, it is its own negation of free will — or birth by another name. Falling out of bed evokes the experience of falling, of being an object of gravity, a prisoner of the natural laws and forces that govern all existence. It is one of the first things we learn after being born: you can fall down. Combing one’s hair symbolizes all that is cosmetic in the putting on of our public face, in choosing how to present ourselves to society. Thus is a kind of pilgrim’s progress described: We are born. We learn how the world works. We decide what we want others to know about us.
''Found my way downstairs and drank a cup. And looking up, I noticed I was late.'' Moving through life, we “find our way” by trial and error; we acquire sad knowledge of the baser requisites to be fulfilled in the construction of our foundation. We grow sadder and wiser — a process which that seems to satisfy a human need no less elemental than that of thirst slaked by the raising of a drink to the lips. The universality of such an experience drives a further sense of inevitability, of being captive to the larger forces of gravity, the need for food and water, the inexorability of time.
''Found my coat and grabbed my hat, made the bus in seconds flat.'' We further refine our public posture in our choice of defensive garments. And we do so in haste, with the sense of urgency derived from our knowledge that we are running against time.
''Made my way upstairs and had a smoke. And somebody spoke and I went into a dream.'' We have arrived at a destination. Though our trip on the bus is over, we’re still on a trip, in the sense that we’re not at home. And though anywhere other than home is at least to some degree, and by definition, alien — alienated — at least we are familiar with the terrain: we can go upstairs. And though we may still be isolated, we are at least no longer alone. We know this, because we hear the voice of an anonymous party. Thus is the possibility for the transcendence of isolation made available, by means of communication with another human being. However, we decline this opportunity in favor of the ultimate introverted act: retreat into the internal, dreamlike, surreal, irrational, non-linear mental state made created by drugs. Thus, although we have opted out of an opportunity for interpersonal contact, we have shifted our consciousness away from the strictures of reality and toward the freedom of a dreamlike, drug-induced state.
''I read the news today, oh, boy. Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. And though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all. Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. I’d love to turn you on.'' The theme of individual powerlessness and insignificance against the backdrop of the relentlessly and endlessly unfolding human drama is repeated. Initially, the relevance of the quantity of holes is unkown to us, because the context is known only to the protagonist. But if you can’t know what the holes are, you can know that they were counted in a specific place whose importance the narrator signals by naming the city and county. The holes could be anything: a symbolic stand-in for the march of ephemeral concerns that constitute the bulk of human existence in every locality. More likely, their meaning is literal, for holes are indeed empty, devoid of meaning. The identity of the unnamed “they” whose duty it was to count the holes is a matter of speculation. Call them census-takers, tax collectors, assessors. Whatever the moniker, their role is the same — that of faceless, anonymous “experts.” Anointed by the Establishment, these experts enumerate those facets of reality deemed by that same Establishment to be relevant to the society. Only after this act of counting — literally, of determining “what counts” — can come the dictation of the societal priorities flowing therefrom. The anonymity of those doing the counting symbolizes the essentially alien nature of the means by which government rules. This reinforces our narrator’s concern with the theme of alienation — the alienation of the successful politician from the fundamental truth of his mortality; the alienation of the street crowd from the governing elite; the alienation of the moviegoers from their nation’s history; and the alienation of so-called experts from the daily concerns of laypeople. The experts announce an absurd finding: 4,000 holes will fit in the Albert Hall. This result underscores the distinction between meaningless information, which is everywhere but of no use to anybody, and meaningful knowledge, which is elusive. The reference to the Albert Hall is an English place-name familiar to very few outside England. The idea here is that if you recognize the reference to the Albert Hall, you will experience the minor thrill of recognition — and the fleeting satisfaction that comes from feeling that you can construct meaning within the context of random and terrifying events by means of language: the power to superimpose order onto chaos simply by giving things a name. Even if you don’t recognize the reference to the Albert Hall, you still recognize the absurdity of counting the holes in Blackburn. Significantly, the Albert Hall is a place where famous performers ply their craft. An allusion, we may conclude, to the meaninglessness of fame — the emptiness in the soul modern celebrity. It was a void the Beatles themselves spoke of after they had reached their peak. And the narrator sends, for the second time, the dually desirous proposition to provide the anonymous “you” with an opportunity to replace mental alienation and emotional emptiness — to fill these twin voids at the center of the modern soul — with the twin towers of a mind-altering drug experience and an interpersonal relationship, the latter being sexual in its intensity if not in its expression.
It’s one song, but there are crucial difference between the two narrators. Narrator No. 1 seeks to understand reality; he wants to know about the news, he’s interested in history; he ponders the nature of societal forces; alludes to the absurdities that underlie conventional wisdom; clothes his comments in ironic sarcasm. Whereas No. 2 accepts his immediate reality without a second thought; makes no comment about the world beyond the boundaries of his narcissistic concerns about grooming, hairstyle, clothes. He knows time outruns us all, but doesn’t seem to care a whit about that fact. In another key contrast, No. 2 rejects human contact in favor of drug-induced inner space, while No. 1 invites the anonymous “you” to experience, along with him, a chemical- or sex-induced alteration of consciousness. In essence, No. 1 stands outside society. He analyzes, judges, constructs an edifice of emotional self-defense. And yet, despite his isolation, it is he who seeks alliance with another person. Indeed, his most meaningful action is to invite someone to share with him in the pursuit of transcendence through drugs and intense relationships. Whereas No. 2 accepts reality implicitly, tailors for himself a stylish suit of armor, and rejects a relationship in favor of introversion.
What is the takeaway here? First, that we modern men and women are alienated: from each other, from the Establishment, even from our own history. This latter fact is one of the things that makes us modern. And that which we value most — fame, success, power and money — are but fleeting unrealities trumped by death and the passage of time. Our humor may provide defense against the terror arising from these melancholic facts. But solace can be achieved, if only temporarily, by raising our consciousness to different levels, whether through intense relationships or chemical substances.
A final word about authorial intent: Many of you know that Lennon based the lyrics for this piece on a several newspaper articles, including one about potholes. Many of you will no doubt set me straight by quoting the relevant scholarship. No doubt I will be cautioned against the sins of reading too much into the text. My response is the following: All art gets its start in the mundane, ephemeral facts of human experience. Small-minded insistence upon restricting to the terms of that ephemera any effort to interpret a text, painting or other work is a denial of art's power to transcend the quotidian realities above which all artistic minds strive to reach.
Although I remember this song when the album first came out, it wasn't until recently that its meaning really came to me and all the musical and lyrical parts came together and added to its meaning.
" A Day in the Life " is the Beatles telling us to live our lives as our own and to appreciate the short time on this earth that we have. As they say in another song on the same album "then it's far too late and then they pass away.. ".
The Beatles are telling us in this song that far too many of us are not experiencing life through first-hand experience. Most of our days are spent living vicariously through other people's experiences and not our own and we experience our lives through impersonal media such as reading newspapers or books or watching TV or film. Nowadays this situation is even more acute with computers and social media. Instead of actually snow-skiing down a hill we watch someone else doing it. Even our social interactions and emotions are removed from the immediacy of first-person experience.
The song starts off with a dreamy feel as our reality and our lives are lived in an illusion and like a dream world.
I read the news today , Oboy... How am I relating to my world ?- in fact if we say that our experiences create our reality, what is that reality? We are separated from real events by many levels of separation. Instead of experiencing blowing our minds out in a car, we read about someone else's experience in the newspaper. This distancing effect allows us to laugh about something which should make us sad, and probably would if we had actually been there.
Again , what made me laugh? I saw the photograph- another removed experience.- I wasn't there to see it with my own eyes so my "experience" of the event is again by living life in someone else's shoes.
" He didn't notice that the lights had changed" - even the main subject of the news story himself seems to be out of touch and removed from the reality of the world- he does not see what is going on around him.
A crowd of people stood and stared"- we read about other people's reaction- " nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords"
Again, most people are rather disconnected from other people- we don't really know each other. A member of the House of Lords one might expect to be somewhat famous or well known- they are certainly affecting the lives of others, but they are somewhat removed.
" I'd love to turn you on"- I'd love to rouse you and wake you up to actually live a life full of your own experiences.
I saw a film today.." Again , experiencing life through the media. I did not live through the war myself or experience the battlefield. My experience of war is through someone's portrayal of it in the film. Again, my reaction is not one of revulsion at the horrors of war. i am so removed from it, and I had to look, because I read the book- another vicarious experience- my experience of the war is not from my personal experience. Most of our daily lives are made up of impersonal experiences. in a sense we are not living our own lives. When we reach the end of our lives and look back on what we have done in our lives, what will we see?
The next part of the song has us waking up-our alarm goes off and our "real life" begins. This is the section where we see what most of our real-life experiences are like and the music reflects that- we are not in the dreamy surreal feeling- harsh reality seems to take hold.
(There is the sound like the ticking of the second hand of a watch that plays almost throughout the whole song- time is constantly going by.)
After we wake up for a few brief moments we experience our daily lives- we get up-get dressed and rush off to work. We have a couple of drugs to help us cope through the morning- our "cup" and on the bus, our "smoke" and then we are again off in a dream- even before we get to work.
The last stanza has us again spending our time reading the newspaper- and we read about the holes in Blackburn Lancashire. This seems to be so trivial and non-consequential to our lives- does this information really add meaning to our lives? Again the Beatles would love to turn us on and get us to live more meaningful lives, before it is too late.
The final crescendo gives us a sense of the end of our lives- it starts off slow, and then builds and then seems to speed up near the end, and before you know it, it is over, and we have joined the Great Beyond.
= My favourite song.
anonymous Apr 25th 2021 report
To Blow your mind in taking LSD. Could have been a Trip about the light changed, He did notice that He was unaware of the colors changing> It never really states he died. John Having an ordinary day in teens looking smart and acting sophisticated. Scanning news he finds stupid adults waste of money doing nothing right. Lots of war movies, at that repeating the end, he read the book, he was a child after 1945, Paul was going to school he smoked a fag. Then on the bus finally
he could use imagination dream as young boys do. After a long song of being himself older, Leary said turn on and drop out, change and said don't do it, I think the turn on was the expanding if new music. A new beginning new sound to start it off,
anonymous Oct 29th 2020 report
Obviously it's just my interpretation...
It starts with reading the news about a person who died in an accident and how lenon is actually happy for him. Its about how life and death are weird phenomena that everybody goes through and yet we are confused and amazed every single time. Then he talks about a film he saw where the English army won the war, here people didn't want a reminder of the fact that there are many horrible things happening in the world whereas lenon couldn't ignore that fact because he has read the bible ,as I imagine. Then Mccartney talks about the usual and tedious routines that people are forced to do or may think so and how they just want to drift into their imagination and fantasies. On the last verse lenon talks about another news he read which was about the number of holes the governing people counted. This is about how people in power focus on doing useless things instead of using their energy and resources in things that really matter.
So based on my interpretation lenon finds life to be weird, tedious, filled with sad and disappointing things and therefore he wishes to find someone with whom he can escape this reality and create another one..
I hope it makes sense..
anonymous Oct 27th 2020 report
obviously just my intepretation...it starts with reading the news about a person who died in an accident and how lenon is actually happy for him. its about how life and death are weird phenomena that everybody goes through and yet we are confused and amazed every single time. then he talks about a film he saw where the english army won the war, here people didnt want a reminder of the fact that there are many horrible things happening in the world whereas lenon couldnt ignore that fact because he has read the bible ,as i imagine. then mccartney talks about the usual and tedious routines that people are forced to do or may think so and how they just wanna drift into their imagination and fantasies. the last verse lenon talks about another news he read which was about the number of holes the people in authority counted. this is about how people in power focus on doing useless things instead of using their energy and resources in things that really matter.
so based on my interpretation lenon finds life to be weird, tedious, filled with sad and disappointing things and therefore he wishes to find someone with whom he can escape this reality and create another one..
hope it makes sense..
From All the Songs, The Story behind Every Beatles Release - Philippe Margotin, Jean-Michel Guesdon, Patti Smith:
When the Beatles came to the studio to work on John’s new song, it only had a provisional title: “In the Life of.” And when John began singing it, along with his backup vocals, George Martin and Geoff Emerick were amazed: this was obviously a great song!
In order to write it, John had sat down in front of his piano with the Daily Mail of January 7 open before him and had built his text around two news items: the death of the Guinness heir, who had been killed in a car accident, and the repair of four thousand potholes in the streets of Blackburn, in Lancashire. When he went to Paul’s house, the latter was impressed: “He was a bit shy about it,” John said, “because I think he thought it was already a good song.”1 Paul suggested the fiery line I’d love to turn you on, a real provocation for the Establishment with its reference to drugs. John loved it! He also contributed the bridge, which created a wonderful transition between the orchestral part and the final verse. Paul said, “It was a little party piece of mine, although I didn’t have any more written.”2 In 1980, John revealed that he was stuck on a word in the sentence, Now they know how many holes it takes … the Albert Hall. It was Terry Doran (the future CEO of Apple Ltd.) who proposed “to fill.” “A Day in the Life,” which John called a “damn good piece,” was one of the Beatles’ most innovative songs. The BBC, who read into it allusions to illegal substances, banned it from the airwaves.
FOR BEATLES FANATICS
At the end of “A Day in the Life,” the Beatles added a never-ending tape loop of studio chatter, as well as a high-pitched tone that only dogs can hear!
The production of this song was epic. On the day of the first session, January 19, the song was not yet finished. The group recorded the rhythm track in a simple manner (acoustic guitar, piano, bongos, and maracas). John’s vocal, wrapped up in a heavy echo, was particularly moving. Instead of a traditional countdown, John called out “sugarplum fairy, sugarplum fairy.” The whole team felt the emotion. Geoff Emerick remembered shivering as he heard this. The Beatles decided to leave twenty-four beats blank after the first and the second I’d love to turn you on, because they did not know at the time how to fill that space. It was Mal Evans who was in charge of counting the beats, and you can hear him as of 1:44 mixing up the numbers. Originally, his voice was supposed to disappear, but it was impossible to delete it—as well as the alarm clock ringing to indicate the end of the section! It was purely random that the ringing perfectly coincided with Paul’s bridge (Woke up!). John then recorded two different vocal takes and the very next day, a third one that made it possible to gather together the best parts of each one. After a first inconclusive attempt on January 20, Paul redid his voice and his bass playing on February 3, while Ringo redid his drumming. Initially reluctant to play too much, Ringo ultimately performed a remarkable part on drums, one of his best ever. Geoff Emerick highlighted it by asking him to tune his toms very low and to remove the lower skins in order to slip in microphones, while everything was highly compressed.
On February 10, according to George Martin, John found a way to fill the twenty-four beats, “What I’d like to hear is a tremendous buildup, from nothing up to something absolutely like the end of the world,”3 John said to George Martin by way of telling him to hire a symphonic orchestra. But Paul, according to Mark Lewisohn, claimed he was the one who came up with the idea. Being a lover of contemporary music, he may indeed have been the instigator. Whatever was the case, George Martin only reserved half a symphonic orchestra in order to save money, and on the day set for recording, each of the forty musicians received a false nose, false breasts, gorilla hands, etc. What they did not know was that they were going to be asked to play randomly during twenty-four beats, starting from the lowest register of their instrument and then reaching gradually to the highest level. They were to do this without paying attention to the other musicians! Some friends were invited for the recording: among them were the Rolling Stones, Donovan, and Graham Nash. Klaus Voormann, who attended the session, related: “John arrived and announced, ‘We are going to turn down the lights, and this way, no one will be able to tell if their neighbor is playing off key.’ Bursts of laughter. The ice was broken. Sitting in the control room beside Ringo, we could hear George Martin call the first take: “‘A Day in the Life … take one’ … As they started, we began getting goose bumps. As the crescendo progressed, the less they stayed put and encouraged by John and Paul, they were standing up one after another under the feverish direction of Martin. Everyone was staring at him, waiting for the signal for the end.”
The orchestra was recorded several times on several tracks and this was then mixed down to one in order to boost the sound, an equivalent of 160 musicians. The results were amazing. All that was left was to figure out a conclusion at the climax of this. Paul tried to have everyone present hum one single note, but this did not work. The idea suddenly occurred to him—playing one single chord on several pianos at the same time! On February 22, John, Martin, Mal Evans, Paul, and Ringo together struck different keyboards and George Martin completed the effect with a harmonium. In order to prolong the sound as long as possible, Geoff Emerick gradually increased the recording level to the point where every bit of the sound was captured. The ninth attempt was the best. Duplicated three times, the effect was enormous. You can also hear Ringo’s chair squeaking at 4:49! The mix required the synchronization of the orchestra’s four-track tape recorders with the one of the Beatles’ backing track. Ken Townsend found the technical solution and the final mono mix was done on the same day. The stereo version is dated February 23. After an attempt at a piano overdub, made on March 1 (which was not kept), “A Day in the Life,” the major work of Sgt. Pepper, was finally complete.
anonymous Jul 31st 2017 report
In the lyric line:"Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.", I wonder if the 'holes' is somehow referring to 'as?holes'; maybe some reference to the audience types The Beatles classify most likely to be in this hall.
First of all, I'm not anyone with a big vocabulary. Or a background in philosophy like these people. But I have an interpretation.
The first one will be called the John interpretation, because our main character in this one is voiced by John.
The second one will be called the Paul interpretation, because, well, you get it.
So we're gonna take this in a weird order of verses, just be prepared: both explanations are LONG.
The John Interpretation:
So before we start, I want to establish that this interpretation suggests that the song is following one man. This man has
multiple personalities. The first one to appear in the song is a sadistic, depressed, and suicidial person, and the other one is
a man happy with his life.
I read somewhere that psychologists can induce multiple personalities so that their patients can come to terms with traumatic
events. I believe that the song is about coming to terms with the events.
So now we jump in.
"I saw a film today, oh boy."
I'm going to take "oh, boy" as sarcastic, so that this works. His singing also does imply sarcasm, so there.
Anyway, the film. What is it about then?
"The English army had just won the war."
This one is interesting.
In the music video, when this part is sung, a short little clip shows of two boys having it out with some water pistols. Most
of the clips in the video are just people in the studio while recording the song. Why does this clip show a water pistol fight
between two boys?
Well, put together the sarcastic, 'Oh, boy,' the fact that this is a memory. What do you think this is?
It's a memory of the narrator's water pistol fight, symbolizing the war, and the narrator wasn't the English army, so which one
Well, it's been well known that this line refers to Lennon's movie, 'How I Won the War', a satire on the war film genre. The movie
is about WWII. Meaning our main character is, if not German, Eastern European.
"A crowd of people turned away."
On the surface, it seems like this line is about the general tiredness of the genre of war. But, on the level of the water pistol
fight, this is about the people who 'turned away' from war, in this case, the adults. They separate the children (One British,
and our narrator Eastern European). The father did something horrible to our narrator. Not like whip him with a belt. Something
Think about this in context first. When did WWII end? Around 1945. In the US, to give you an idea about how the world saw water
pistols, some states actually had outlawed them during that time. Look up 'Growing up in Bridgeport in the '40s and '50s' by
Arthur Dale in Google Books. Type control-f and search 'water pistols'. Done it yet? Believe me? Moving on.
I do remember reading somewhere that multiple personalities can be induced by psychologists. Maybe his father was a psychologist?
One way or another, I believe that this was the moment that he obtained his second personality, a normal human being. How do
I know? Here's the next set of lines:
"But I just had to look, having read the book."
Is the Paul-voiced personality jumping in here? Beginning to show signs of life? Well, yeah. This is the last verse before Paul's
Our other personality, Paul's voicing, "had to look" at the "film" or memory, suggesting that he's coming to terms with his
horrible crime of water pistol war (yeah, that sounds a bit silly, but so is the song). But the other part is interesting.
He read a book about it? What does a book symbolize? Probably a fantasy, a little story that you make up in your head. We all
do this, don't deny it. And think about it, which will usually seem more real: a book, or a movie?
I'm saying that he sees a little water pistol in a toy store that he walks by, and he thinks of a water pistol fight between
himself as a boy and someone else. That's all that's shown in the video.
Now we go back to the first verse:
"I read the news today, oh boy.
About a lucky man who made the grade,
and though the news was rather sad,
I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph."
He read news, or since this is text, he thought of some fantasy about a man who "made the grade," or succeeded in life.
He acknowledges his sadisticness. Why do I say sadisticness? He sees a photograph, or a vivid picture in his head, as
a film is a vivid memory. A picture of what, you don't ask, because you know the lyrics:
"He blew his mind out in a car,
He didn't notice that the lights had changed."
Wow, Lennon's character. You are a sadist. Why would you laugh at a car crash resulting in a fatal head injury? You monster.
"A crowd of people stood and stared."
When a crowd of people are shown, it generally illustrates the public's opinion. I think Lennon wants to tell us about how media
has been dumbing down so that a water pistol fight is turned away from, but a fatal head-injury car crash is stared at, in awe
and in disgust.
"They'd seen his face before.
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords."
Just some detail. I don't know what to make of these two.
So now, we skip to the final line before the orchestra comes in.
"I'd love to turn you on."
This is the line that did it for me. No, it's not about sex. It's about "turning on" the other personality. It's like this:
Paul doesn't have his part yet, so he has a little conversation in his subconscious:
P: "Oh yes, now that I've interrupted you, may you please turn on my side of you?"
J: "I'd love to turn you on."
I'm not saying that Paul's character knows about John's. I'm saying that "I'd love to turn you on." means to turn his other
personality "on", or to activate it.
And now we have Paul's part of the song.
Now, because this personality is not traumatized or mentally affected, what he says can be taken pretty literally.
fell out of bed,
dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and had a cup,
then I looked up and I noticed I was late.
Found my comb,
grabbed my hat,
made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs, and had a smoke,"
These can all be taken pretty literally. He goes about his daily life not knowing about John's character.
Then suddenly -
"then somebody spoke and I fell into a dream."
Here, Paul's character finds out about John's character. So let's break this down.
Who spoke? John's character did. Right after, he says "Ah" for a very, very long time.
Now. He didn't "fall into a dream" per se, he "fell" asleep. By that I mean fainted.
He then regained conciousness as John's character.
This is the most emotional line in the song. It's even supported by the orchestra for extra emotion.
This "Ah" is not just a transition. This is an "Ah" of realization and an "Ah" of being scared. An "Ah" of pain, and an "Ah"
So then John's character comes back:
"I read the news today, oh boy."
Some more unpleasant fantasies I see, John. What are you thinking of this time?
"Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancanshire."
I want you to look up "biblical meaning of numbers" and find 4000.
Pretty cool, right?
TL;DR, There are two biblical numbers with four digits, as far as I know: 5000 and 4000.
5000 refers to the feeding of the 5000, all of which were Israelites, and all of which were completely saved from hunger.
4000 refers to the feeding of the 4000, but this feeding was for the Gentiles (non-Jews). Salvation to all the world, Gentile
I believe that our subject/character, now only Lennon's, was on a bus going through Blackburn, Lancanshire, it hit a pretty
big pothole, and crashed. But, this hole was one in 4000. He was saved because of it. He was now one person in one body, not
two in one. By the way, here's a quote from John Lennon:
"It's just an expression meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ," he said in the
interview. "Now I wasn't saying that was a good idea, 'cos I'm one of Christ's biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the
Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do." - John Lennon, 1969
He's probably read the Bible, considering he's "one of Christ's biggest fans".
"And though the holes were rather small,
they had to count them all."
So if the bus crashed because of the pothole, how could the holes have been small?
I think that now that Lennon is one human, he's almost less removed from the world. Maybe he wants to do better now.
Why do I say this?
The holes are sins. God counts all of our sins, until we ask for forgiveness. Even the small ones, which can be removed with
an act of kindness.
"Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall."
Our sins add up.
The Albert Hall was a huge concert hall where the best would play. The best of any genre. In 1963, the Beatles played there
Listen. I'm not evangelizing or anything. John Lennon was one of Christ's biggest fans. He said his 'bigger than Jesus' thing
right around the time of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album that this song was in. He had to be "one of
Christ's biggest fans" at the time, or he wouldn't have said that.
He had to have read the Bible.
I don't even know if I'm trying to reassure myself or not anymore.
"I'd love to turn you on."
Lennon's still not sure about his healing, so he tries to change personalities again, but it doesn't work. The piano chord
is his final realization of who he is.
So that's my first interpretation.
The Paul Interpretation:
This one is easier to take in. So now we start at the last verse.
"I read the news today, oh boy."
This time, Lennon's character is nothing more than a casual observer. The song is much more literal. In fact, this interpretation
relies on a backwards version of the song.
"Four thounsand holes in Blackburn, Lancanshire."
Again, take it literally. There are four thousand potholes in Blackburn, Lancanshire.
"And though the holes were rather small,
they had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall."
Literalism might not even be a word, but I'm going to say it as if it means the belief that everything is literal.
"I'd love to turn you on."
I think Lennon's character has a wife, and this line means he's gonna sleep with him.
Now to Paul's part.
fell out of bed,
dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and had a cup,
then I looked up and I noticed I was late.
Found my comb,
grabbed my hat,
made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs, and had a smoke,"
Normal daily life of whoever this man is.
"A Day in the Life" of whoever this man is, if you will.
Ok, I'll stop.
This man seems important, though. He smokes, so he definitely has money. He uses the bus to go to work, and he can't be late.
"Then somebody spoke,
and I fell into a dream."
Why is it that when some people think of death, they hear somebody before they die. Then they see a light, and something else,
and you have to walk towards the light. Where does that come from?
His dream is the thing where you walk towards the light.
This man voiced by Paul is dead, and he died by a "rather small" pothole.
"I'd love to turn you on."
John's character is waking up from his good night's sleep.
Onto the next verse.
"I saw a film today, oh boy,
the English army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away,
but I just had to look,
having read the book."
Literalism. But what did the crowd turn away to see?
Well, here're the first and second verse. They're meant to be taken together.
"I read the news today, oh boy,
about a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn't notice that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared,
they'd seen his face before.
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords."
Alright. John Lennon's character is in the theater. He watches the movie, and everyone else hears something and leaves.
They see a car crash outside. Or more accurately, a bus crash. On a pothole. The first "He" in the second verse is the man
from Paul's part. He's the only man who died. The bus driver came out, there were some reporters asking how the crash was
caused. He says that he "didn't notice that the lights had changed." John Lennon's character didn't even see the crash, though
he was right there. He was watching a movie because he had read a book. He goes back home in the other direction away from
the crash, and the next day, reads the news. Boom. A bus crashed right where he was. So he laughs. Not sadistically, but because
life is cruel. Why one important man? He also laughs because he realizes that he missed it, though he was right there, and now
all he can see of it is a photograph.
This meaning of the song is probably the more accurate. Somebody said something that the song was about how we shouldn't
be complacent people. We should look at the world. Notice things. Have our own ideas. Not watch other people's ideas.
Oh. One more thing. At the end, there's Paul repeating that "There wasn't any other way," with some backmasked stuff.
It fits into both interpretations.
There wasn't any other way to remove the multiple personality, and there wasn't any other way to translate the song Paul's
way. The only was, to a certain extent, backwards.
So, enjoy these pi*100 - lined interpretations.
anonymous Jul 7th 2016 report
I always thought the Albert Hall reference was a satirical one about the Rolling Stones selling out the hall ... oh boy!
anonymous Apr 5th 2015 report
Died in a car accident and looking to see if is prophetically "Sir" Paul, but nobody knew... Poor guys, pressured to make more money for the political higharchy, like from sort of men in black. Already, they had to lie but secretly hint facts to the listening public.
Peace, man! It was a Christmas present with an 8 track (I am 60, now!) and I could separate all the tracks of the album and this song, but I was so sad about the new Faul sound, that I finally gave it away. Look for other hints, but pray for the Beatles happiness and solem rise to Our SAVIOUR!
anonymous Oct 8th 2013 report
They were trying to start that conspiracy that Paul was dead for publicity and with this song and this album cover they really yanked the listeners chain.
anonymous Aug 14th 2012 report
The middle part was written by Paul and what he had in mind while writing it was an average day from his childhood: waking up late for school. The had a smoke then went into a dream part is not drug related. Didn't you ever daydream when you were a kid?
anonymous Aug 10th 2012 report
Response to "Analyst" #1 on this list... the long, long winding one...
One can read anything into any book, poem, painting, etc.. and if your major concerns are broad philosophical ones, then that is what you will bring to the discussion, and that is what you have done, or can I say over-done. I prefer my steaks medium-rare. And more to-the-point analysis, rather than applying all answers and rants possible to sometimes-simple-questions. Even Freud would have to say: "Now beware of the paralysis of analysis".
- Topanga Russ (next door to Jim Morrison's haunt)
More Beatles song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
Related Blog Posts
|She Ain't You||anonymous|
|Boy with a Coin||anonymous|
|Look What You've Done||anonymous|
|Boys Will Be Bugs||anonymous|
|Cry For You||anonymous|
|Like a Stone||anonymous|
|Make You Miss Me||anonymous|
|Let It Go||anonymous|