Day 45: “Day Tripper”

When was it recorded?  Oct. 16, 1965

When was it first released, and on which album?  Dec. 3, 1965 as a single

Who wrote it?  Lennon/McCartney

Have I heard this song before?  Yes

What my research dug up:

I was rocking out to this song earlier, then got home and was surprised to learn it was the song I was writing about today.

Quoth Wikipedia, “Under the pressure of needing a new single for the Christmas market, John Lennon wrote much of the music and most of the lyrics, while Paul McCartney worked on the verses” for “Day Tripper.”

(As an American, I know nothing of the British Christmas music market.  The closest thing I have to knowledge on that subject comes from Bill Nighy’s subplot in “Love, Actually.”  There’s a contest of some sort?  I don’t know.)

I deliberated tagging this one with only a Lennon-credit since he conceived the original ideas and since Paul himself “would give John the main credit” (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now).  However, John argued in Rolling Stone that “Day Tripper” was a true collaboration between the two “where one partner had the main idea but the other took up the cause and completed it” (Wikipedia).

“Day Tripper was [written] under complete pressure, based on an old folk song I wrote about a month previous. It was very hard going, that, and it sounds it. It wasn’t a serious message song. It was a drug song.” — John Lennon (Anthology)

Remember how yesterday’s song had multiple drug references?  This one does too (in case you missed how it’s right in the title… and how John said so in that quote I just used)!  “Day tripper” was slang for “someone who failed to fully embrace the hippie lifestyle” (Wikipedia).  More importantly, it was John’s play on words, masking the drug references as straightforward “people taking day trips to the beach or the city” statements.

“Day Tripper was to do with tripping. Acid was coming in on the scene, and often we’d do these songs about ‘the girl who thought she was it’… But this was just a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was a day tripper, a Sunday painter, Sunday driver, somebody who was committed only in part to the idea. Whereas we saw ourselves as full-time trippers, fully committed drivers, she was just a day tripper.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

That’s  swell, Paul.

John cited “Watch Your Step,” the best-known single of late, great American blues-rock musician Bobby Parker, as an inspiration for “Day Tripper’s” musical structure.  This song was released in 1961.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking, but I’m hearing “I Feel Fine,” not “Day Tripper” in that riff.  Wikipedia is telling me “Watch Your Step” inspired both songs (among a number of other classics), so I guess I don’t need to lay off the sauce just yet.

According to the Wiki, “Day Tripper was recorded in three takes during the sessions for ‘Rubber Soul.’”

“Day Tripper” was originally intended as the A-side for the aforementioned Christmas market single.  However, “We Can Work It” was recorded four days later and deemed the more “commercial” song.  John protested the move of “Day Tripper” to Side B, and they worked it out (pun definitely intended) by released a double A-side single.

My favorite piece of trivia -– the “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work It Out” single was released the same day as the Beatles album “Rubber Soul.”  Neither song is on said album.

“Day Tripper” was a #1 single in the UK but peaked at #5 on US charts.  It was also the fourth song the Beatles performed at their final live concert at Candlestick Park in 1966.

“Day Tripper” was first available as a non-single on “Past Masters Vol. 2”… hence the “Past Masters” tag up top.

Quoth Wikipedia, “The Beatles filmed three different music videos, directed by Joe McGrath.”  Having previously established I live, breathe, and die for good music videos, I embarked on my search rather enthusiastically.  I wound up with one video I will concede as being authentic.

According to’s Oldies Music section (I would joke that my grandma’s proud, but she doesn’t like the Beatles or know how to use the Internet), “A short film of the Beatles lip-synching this song was made for promotional purposes and first broadcast… on the Granada Television special ‘The Music Of Lennon and McCartney,’ which first aired December 17, 1965 in the UK. Since these performances were not filmed in front of an audience, they can be considered the world’s first music videos as we understand the format today.”  Historical!

I found another video on YouTube that’s either a different “Day Tripper” music video or a very good sync up of audio and other existing Beatles footage.  I’m going to err on the side of caution and not post it here (especially since there weren’t any duplicates of it unlike the video I posted above).

In what seems to be American tradition, I like “Day Tripper,” but not as much as its sister single, “We Can Work It Out.”  That said, the more I listened to “Day Tripper,” the more I enjoyed it.  I definitely didn’t get sick of it, which is always a plus, and the music video was a nice treat.  I have to concede that in the world of the Beatles, I probably am more of a day tripper than full-time tripper, but I’ll hang on for the ride as long as I can.



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