When was it recorded? Oct. 6, 1964
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 4, 1964 on “Beatles for Sale”
Who wrote it? McCartney (with noteworthy contribution from Lennon?)
Have I heard this song before? Yep yep
What my research dug up:
I know “Eight Days a Week” like the back of my hand, but I’m currently confused by its background. We can solidly pin its inception on Paul. According to John, Paul started writing it “as a potential title song for The Beatles’ second film” (Beatles Bible). Then John wrote “Help!” and the number Paul was working on was relegate to the “Beatles for Sale” album.
So here comes Paul the Unreliable Narrator. One story goes that he got the idea from his driver.
“I remember writing that with John, at his place in Weybridge, from something said by the chauffeur who drove me out there. John had moved out of London, to the suburbs. I usually drove myself there, but the chauffeur drove me out that day and I said, ‘How’ve you been?’ – ‘Oh, working hard,’ he said, ‘working eight days a week.’ I had never heard anyone use that expression, so when I arrived at John’s house I said, ‘Hey, this fella just said, “eight days a week”.’ John said, ‘Right – ‘Ooh I need your love, babe…’ and we wrote it. “ — Paul McCartney (Anthology)
OK, cool. But then in his 1984 Playboy interview, Paul says he got the idea from Ringo (oft noted for his malapropisms).
LINDA [McCartney]: Ringo also said, ‘Eight days a week.’
PAUL: Yeah, he 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!’
Don’t tell us your mind was slipping as early as thirty years ago, Sir Paul!
According to Wikipedia, “‘Eight Days a Week’ is the first song which the Beatles took into the studio unfinished to work on the arrangement during the session, which would later become common.” As such, the arrangement reportedly changed from take to take. Compiled from Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions:
- Played straight — no frills — on acoustic guitar
- “John and Paul introduced a succession of beautifully harmonized ‘Oohs’, climbing up the scale, to precede the first guitar strum”
- Combined the ‘oohs’ and acoustic guitar
- through 6. Still working out the “oohs” – by Take 6 it was close to the finished product
Worth noting – “Eight Days a Week” is the odd song to open with a fade-in, as opposed to a traditional fade-out ending. The Beatles Bible even claims “Eight” is the first popular song to ever do so.
“Eight Days a Week” was released as a single only in the United States, where it was massive. It became their seventh US #1 hit. That considered, the Beatles themselves apparently weren’t overly fond of it and never performed it live.