The Beatles

Eight Days a Week

Song Review by

When it was first released in Britain in late 1964 on Beatles for Sale, "Eight Days a Week" was just an album track. America's appetite for Beatles product, however, was insatiable at this point, and the bigger and more affluent U.S. market far more accommodating for songs that could be sold on singles. So "Eight Days a Week," like "Twist and Shout" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret?" before it, and like "Yesterday" and "Nowhere Man" after it, was released on a 45, although it was not designed by the Beatles themselves as a featured single, and did not appear as such in their native U.K. Although it made number one in the States, it is not one of the songs that first comes to mind when early Beatles classics are summarized. That hardly means that it was forgettable; in fact, it was damned good. There are few Lennon-McCartney songs that are bouncier and cheerier than "Eight Days a Week," although there's plenty of yearning grit in John Lennon's lead vocal, particularly at a point near the end of the song, where he breaks into a brief peculiar wordless melisma. He's superbly supported by Paul McCartney's harmony vocals, and the necessary mixture of light and shade is supplied by the bridge, which suddenly goes into emphatic minor chords. At one point during this bridge, all the instruments drop out, leaving the voices unaccompanied for a line; everything comes to a dead stop for a nanosecond. Then a shoe-drop of Ringo Starr drums kicks the music into gear again, and the melody brightens as it explodes back into the verse; the Beatles' spirits could never be dampened for long. Becoming ever bolder in their studio experimentation even at this relatively early date, the track begins with a gradual fade-in, a device which had rarely been employed in rock music, and served to heighten the drama and immediately seize the listener's attention. Although the lyric is for the most part a standard celebratory love song, the title phrase "eight days a week" (like a previous Beatles title, "a hard day's night") betrays Lennon-McCartney's growing knack for unusual wordplay -- a trait that would soon become far more commonplace. Lennon, never the best judge of the Beatles' own work, was surprisingly disdainful of the song in a 1980 Playboy interview, claiming (erroneously) that "it was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was [McCartney's] initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I'm not sure. But it was lousy anyway."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Beatles for Sale 1964 Apple Records / Capitol 2:43
Beatles for Sale [EP] 1965 Parlophone
Beatles VI 1965 Capitol 2:46
1962-1966 1973 Capitol / Parlophone 2:44
No Image 1982 Odeon 2:45
Hit Parade Top Rock 'n' roll Hits: 50's and 60's, Vol. 2 1991
Various Artists
Orfeon 2:52
Compact Disc EP Collection 1992 Apple Records
Anthology 1 1995 Apple / Capitol 2:47
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 2:45
EP Boxset 1999 Parlophone 2:43
1 2000
Capitol 2:43
The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 2006 Apple / Capitol / EMI 2:45
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 2:43
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 2:43
1962-1970 2010 EMI / Parlophone 2:44
Anthology Highlights 2011 EMI 2:47
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 2:46