‘A Day In The Life ‘ Promo Film A Thrilling Peek Into Music History

adayinthelifeThis week Apple Corps released the newly restored promotional film for ‘A Day In The Life’, and it’s a fascinating little trip for any Beatles fan. The video, which is to be included in the soon-to-be-released “1+” DVD/BluRay collection, has rarely been seen before in its entirety, although portions of it have regularly shown up in Beatles documentaries.

Broadcasters refused to play it in 1967 because they thought the song was about drugs, so the film was shelved. But the film’s not really about drugs. It is really about the explosive creativity and cheeky ambition of these young musicians and their studio collaborators. It is like watching a tipping point in cultural history unfold before your eyes.

The film was supposed to be the first recorded section for a TV special about The Making of Sgt. Pepper. How’s that for forward thinking? Before the album had even been recorded, the lads apparently instinctively knew that the process of making it was going to be almost as important as the music itself. But they never followed through with the documentary, so only this film remained from the project.

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It captured the events taking place in Abbey Road Studio One on the night of Friday February 10, 1967. The Beatles had already laid down the bed tracks and vocals for the song, and on this night they were scheduled to record the massive, swooping orchestral sections.

But this was not going to be just another recording session. This was going to be a Happening. The Beatles asked the 40 orchestra members and producer George Martin to attend in black tie evening wear. They invited friends like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Donovan, Mike Nesmith and others to the studio, and the lads themselves showed up in the latest Carnaby Street finery.

The beer and the champagne and who knows what else seemed to be flowing freely. The Beatles insisted that everyone present put on party novelties like upside-down glasses, plastic stick-on nipples, imitation bald heads, red noses, false eyes, fake cigars and knotted handkerchiefs on their heads. There were balloons and bubbles everywhere. It looked like a hell of a party.

The four Beatles all look a little bit nervous about the creative leap they were making that night. But they needn’t have been. The orchestral bits worked out pretty well, I’d have to say, and the lads’ instincts about the album were right on the money, as it turned out. They would soon improve upon the “Happening” recording session concept later in 1967 for “All You Need Is Love”.

In Mark Lewisohn’s essential book The Beatles Recording Sessions, he quotes George Martin’s recollections of that night in February 1967: “When we finished doing the orchestral bit one part of me said ‘We’re being a bit self-indulgent here’. The other part of me said ‘It’s bloody marvellous!’”

You can see the video here at Mashable.

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