The Beatles level of prolific output during the 1960s is hard to compare with any other contemporary artist. The Fab Four were a hit machine like the world had never seen before, or since, in fact, but not everything they released matched the high expectations of John Lennon.
Lennon was always a harsh critic, and The Beatle was always forthright when he lunged into a two-footed verbal assault on any contemporary who rubbed him up the wrong way. However, despite the barrage of barbs that he directed at other artists, there’s nobody that he slammed publicly as often as he himself and his own work.
Considering that The Beatles created a canon of albums that speaks for itself, the band earned themselves the odd moment that didn’t quite hit their lofty standards. After all, it wouldn’t be fair on other musicians if you left the studio with ‘A Day In The Life’ every single time.
In 1964, The Beatles were at their most commercial, and the demands of producing hit after hit saw them occasionally let that subconsciously arrive at the forefront of their creative focus. In a short space of a few years, they’d gone from playing to sparsely attended working men’s clubs in Liverpool to being the most talked-about people on the planet.
By this time, they were now not just musicians, but movie stars too, and according to Lennon, during this glamorous time, they lost sight of who they truly were. In his mind, ‘Eight Days A Week’ embodied The Beatles at their worst and a time when commercial success was the only thing that mattered to them and forgot about their artistic integrity.
“Help! as a film was like ‘Eight Days A Week’ as a record for us. A lot of people liked the film, and a lot of people liked that record,” Lennon remarked in Anthology. “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,” he brutally honestly stated.
Over the years, Lennon’s opinion on the track didn’t weaken, and his dislike for everything it represented only enhanced with age. During an interview with Playboy in 1980, shortly before his death, Lennon spoke about why he took no pride in the effort and went as far as labelling it “lousy”.
“‘Eight Days A Week’ was the running title for Help! before they came up with Help!” he revealed to the publication. “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,” Lennon added as one final kick to ‘Eight Days A Week’ as it already lies unconscious on the ground.
While few people would have ‘Eight Days A Week’ down as their favourite moment from The Fab Four, calling it “lousy” does feel slightly over the top, but then again, this kind of attitude is what made Lennon such a one-off. The single hasn’t aged quite as finely as others from The Beatles, but it’s still a charming pop song which most bands wish they’d written.