The Beatles Classic John Lennon Called “Lousy”

The Beatles at their peak were practically unstoppable. Beatlemania swept the world, smashing chart records to pieces. Yet the band were often their worst critics – and John Lennon called one of their biggest hits “lousy”.

On the surface, ‘Eight Days A Week’ is a fun pop song, with some neat moments of invention. A global hit in 1964, it appeared on the ‘Beatles for Sale’ album, melding together some Fab Four harmonies with an inventive fade-in intro.

Part of George Harrison’s blossoming as a guitarist, the central vocals are augmented by his Rickenbacker guitar lines, adapting a folk-rock sensibility to that trademark Lennon & McCartney songwriting.

In a 1980 interview with David Sheff, John Lennon dismissed the single – and attendant film Help! – as being “manufactured”. Going further, the songwriter – known for his caustic wit – even labelled ‘Eight Days A Week’ as “lousy”.

“Help! as a film was like ‘Eight Days A Week’ as a record for us,” Lennon said. “A lot of people liked the film, and a lot of people liked that record. But neither was what we wanted – we knew they weren’t really us. We weren’t ashamed of the film, but close friends knew that the picture and ‘Eight Days’ weren’t our best. They were both a bit manufactured.”

“‘Eight Days A Week’ was the running title for Help! before they came up with Help!” Lennon added. “It was Paul’s effort at getting a single for the movie. That luckily turned to ‘Help!’ which I wrote, bam! bam! – like that, and got the single. ‘Eight Days A Week’ was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.”

Indeed, even at the time The Beatles didn’t seem to be fans – they didn’t play the song live, didn’t use it in their frequent BBC sessions, and only performed it on television once, for Thank Your Lucky Stars.

As a bonus fact: it was seemingly Paul McCartney who came up with the title, a quote from a Beatles chauffeur. Fan lore holds that it’s a Ringo Starr malapropism, but the genial drummer has always denied it.

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