The ‘Ringo-ism’ that became one of The Beatles’ most famous songs
Ringo Starr is the unsung hero of The Beatles. Not only is he routinely overlooked for his vital role in the band, and the world of drumming as a whole, but his affable nature and off-hand charm made him one of the most widely loved Beatles. Even as the group were splitting up, bandmates fighting with one another, Ringo remained calm and friends with everybody.
The drummer may well have put the swing into the Fab Four’s sound which is so hard to pinpoint on the first few listens, but he also contributed to one of the band’s most notable songs and the title of one of their fabled films and, in typical Ringo fashion, he wasn’t really aware he was doing it.
“Everybody loves Ringo!” claimed Paul McCartney as the rest of the band descended into four different corners of the music world following their split. It was a fact that had kept the band together for some time and acted as a bridge in the years following. In truth, Ringo was the heart and soul of the group and there floats around this idea that all of the people he meets feels the same.
It may be why one of the band’s most famous songs and the title of their film A Hard Day’s Night came out of Ringo’s mouth and was so routinely picked up and accepted. In 1980, speaking with David Sheff, Lennon remembered the moment they came up with the title of the song and film: “I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title, ‘Hard Day’s Night’ from something Ringo had said. I had used it in ‘In His Own Write,’ but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny… just said it.
“So Dick Lester said, ‘We are going to use that title.’ And the next morning I brought in the song… ‘cuz there was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A-side— who got the hits. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles, in the movies and everything, were mine… in the early period I’m dominating the group.
“The only reason he [Paul} sang on ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ was because I couldn’t reach the notes. (sings) ‘When I’m home/ everything seems to be right/ when I’m home…’ —which is what we’d do sometimes. One of us couldn’t reach a note but he wanted a different sound, so he’d get the other to do the harmony.”
It was a story confirmed by McCartney too, in 1994: “The title was Ringo’s. We’d almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we’d not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session… and we said, ‘Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.’
“Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical… they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, ‘Phew, it’s been a hard day’s night.'” It was this off-the-cuff charm which made Ringo one of the most beloved figures of music during the band’s heyday.
The drummer himself also confirmed this story back in 1964, “We went to do a job, and we’d worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, ‘It’s been a hard day…’ and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, ‘…night!’ So we came to ‘A Hard Day’s Night.'”
So, Ringo may well be overlooked for his songwriting (Photograph may well be one of the best post-Beatles solo records) and for his drumming ability. But one thing that can never be taken away from him; his Ringo-isms.