We could write a whole list of songs from The Beatles that John Lennon didn’t like. In fact, we have. But after writing so many of the pop standards we love today, it’s hard to begrudge Lennon the opportunity to offer an insider’s critique on some of the Fab Four’s output.
Usually, these scathing attacks are reserved for B-sides or rarities—songs that are, for all intents and purposes, fillers. So, his opinions aren’t particularly shocking or surprising. But when he picks on some of the band’s classics it can be a really jarring and confusing experience to hear Lennon slate one of your favourite tunes. Well, if you’re a fan of ‘Eight Days A Week’ you may want to look away now.
The song pitches Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr at the peak of Beatlemania as they try to find a title track for their second film. Eventually, they would settle on Help! but before that, it had been suggested ‘Eight Days A Week’ could be the winner, “I think we wrote this when we were trying to write the title song for Help! because there was at one time the thought of calling the film Eight Arms To Hold You,” revealed Lennon to Hir Parade in 1972.
The group weren’t just in the peak of their fandom but also in the middle of their pop group ascension. Never before had a band had such ubiquitous appeal it is was an alluring prospect to always play in to. It meant that some of the band’s songs from around this time were written directly for the market and record sales rather than personal expansion and audience enjoyment.
The track may have been lifted from a classic Ringoism, “Yeah, he (Ringo) said it as though he were an overworked chauffeur: (in heavy accent) ‘Eight days a week.’ (Laughter) When we heard it, we said, ‘Really? Bing! Got it!'” said McCartney of the song’s hook (though he has also attributed the title of the track to his own chauffeur too. But it still wasn’t born out of the group’s desire for expression but to fill a quota.
Along with the film Help!, Lennon became more and more dissatisfied with the track, “Help! as a film was like ‘Eight Days A Week’ as a record for us,” he 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.”
The group had been trying to achieve the title song of the film and it did arrive during the sessions for ‘Eight Days A Week’, “[the song] was the running title for Help! before they came up with ‘Help!’. 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.” The song is one of Lennon’s definitive tracks and offers up a real cry for help for the singer.
Lennon was clearly not as enamoured with the other song in contention, “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 (Paul’s) initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.”
That can be confirmed in the fact that, despite being a huge hit in America, the song was never performed live by the group. Instead, they were happy to add it to the canon of material that made them the biggest band on the planet. Looking back it can be no surprise that John Lennon wasn’t a fan of some of The Beatles’ songs, are we ever 100% happy with our work? The beauty is, for every song that Lennon didn’t love there are likely thousands if not millions of people who do.
For those people, listen to The Beatles ‘Eight Days A Week’ below.