Recorded under the working title "In The Life Of...," John wove together several newspaper stories to create A Day In The Life and combined them with an unfinished song of Paul's (the middle eight: "woke up, fell out of bed..."). The lines about the "four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire" stemmed from an article in the Daily Mirror which reported "one-twentieth of a pothole" for every Blackburn resident in the streets. The lyrics about the English army winning the war came from the film How I Won the War, which John starred in. The man who "blew his mind out in a car" was Tara Browne, the Guinness heir who was killed in a car crash.
An expensive orchestra
The orchestra was conducted by George Martin and Paul McCartney at a cost of £367 - extremely high considering it was for a small part of a single song. Paul had originally wanted a 90 piece orchestra, which was not possible, so the piece was recorded numerous times and four versions were combined into one.
The 1967-1970 variation
The original version which closes Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band begins with a crossfade - applause - from the previous track, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise). This version is also used on the original vinyl release of 1967-1970. However, the CD version of 1967-1970, released in 1993, eliminates the crossfade and begins cleanly.
"Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song "I'd love to turn you on." I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work." - John Lennon, Playboy, 1980
"What I did there was to write ... the lowest possible note for each of the instruments in the orchestra. At the end of the twenty-four bars, I wrote the highest note...near a chord of E major. Then I put a squiggly line right through the twenty-four bars, with reference points to tell them roughly what note they should have reached during each bar ... Of course, they all looked at me as though I were completely mad." - George Martin describing the construction of the orchestral piece at the end of the song.
"But what we want to do is turn you on to the truth rather than on to pot." - Paul McCartney, talking about the drug references in the middle eight section (which he wrote) of A Day In The Life
- January 19, 1967 (4 takes; basic track)
- January 20, 1967 (vocal, instrumental overdubs)
- January 30, 1967 (mixing)
- February 3, 1967 (vocal, bass, drum overdubs)
- February 10, 1967 (orchestral overdub)
- February 13, 1967 (mixing)
- February 22, 1967 (final piano chord overdub; mixing)
- February 23, 1967 (mixing)
- March 1, 1967 (unused piano overdub)
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- 1967-1970 (1973)
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends (single) (1978)
- The Beatles Box (1980)
- Anthology 2 (1996) [Anthology mix]
- Love (2006) [LOVE mix]
- Nominated for the 1967 Grammy for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Or Instrumentalist(s)
- Sting (from the Demolition Man Soundtrack)