In article <0000062100000D34@prostar.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (Murray Melander) writes:
>H(>I wasnt alive in the 60's 70's and was wondering what
>H(>this song refers. It talks about the guy from the house
>H(>of lords (parliment?) and about the army and about the
>H(>Blackburn house. Please help this poor, naive, barly
>Andrew, get out from behind your monitor and go to the library or book
>store and expand your mind the old fashioned way...Read a Book today! :)
>Or you can just keep looking here, I'm sure Saki will post you a 1000
>word treatise on it soon.
Heavens. Can't we do it in less than a thousand? :-)
It appears to me that "A Day In The Life" would be a perfect candidate for cross-generational appeal. It's about a topic that seems to touch just about every disaffected soul, no matter what their age. And it's less important what the historical references are than how the singer/ protagonist responds *to* them. John's ironic ennui sculpts and defines the song's tone---and permits a previously free-form fragment from his compositional compatriot (Paul) to fit into the lyric as if it had always been intended that way...suffusing Macca's simple recollection of running for the bus with subtext upon subtext.
Other generations have suffered under similar languor: the Beats (who described themselves as "beat, beaten" by the modern world---they swung not *with* the world's rhythm but well *out* of it); the Lost Generation before them (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wilson), looking for Meaning in all the wrong places; the Bloomsbury crowd in England, and perhaps the Pre-Raphaelites before them...all lost to a various extent and looking for their way home. And what currently? Surely you can fill in the blanks? Nirvana? Rap? Someone whose voice is just learning how to rail against life's inequities?
The singer in "A Day In The Life" is bombarded by media---film, newspapers, probably TV and radio as well---but cannot connect to any tragedy reported therein. Either the subject is utter puerility (the holes in the road in Blackburn) or high misfortune (a young gent who had everything, now dead from a car wreck) or blackest commentary (the compulsion to watch the filmic horrors of wartime when everyone else is repulsed). How can one make sense of all this? How can life force us to pick and choose what matters, when it cajoles us relentlessly with images of unutterable senselessness and pain?
The paper tells us a man dies---a good man, one presumes, a lucky man, a fellow ascending into a life of privilege---and within seconds automotive fate absconds with his breath and wealth. And yet no one knows who he really is...or was.
Next the selfsame newspaper is the medium for absurdist reporting: street potholes. The singer extends an irrelevant statistic ("...one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey") to illustrate the spectrum of pointlessness, the range of modern life devalued by journalism (the death of a man, the death of a road)...and the surrealistic puzzle of how many holes would fill a concert hall.
John had been acting in "How I Won the War", a black comedy of war, but it hadn't yet been released when he was writing "A Day In The Life" and we can well assume that a conglomeration of war movies is meant---a mix of war-is-hell/war-is-glory messages, presented to a country (England) that had never entirely emerged from its own horrors of WWII (air raids, rationing, bombs---all images still fresh), yet also could not quite deal with the fact that humankind might never learn how to live in peace. The singer's response is to subvert whatever emotional response he might have had (he doesn't turn away from grim images) into curiosity about literary/filmic concordances. War is Art! So how well did the director turn one into the other? He can't turn away from *that*...and ever so gently he lampoons himself, as well.
Paul contributed the brilliant middle-bit, which in the context of John's song turns their collaboration into an artistically seamless continuum. The only escape from life's inanities and ironies---the paper, TV, films, work, relentless schedules, buses to run for---is the scant few seconds one spends under dream's daytime cloud, where a moment's relaxation with a smoke (Paul meant it to be tobacco, but listeners can choose their own poison, it works just as well :-) can provide respite from workaday melancholia. For some, the moment it takes to slip into such a dream is all one can look forward to in a life otherwise burdened with duties and debt.
Musically the song fairly screams out a lyrical echo of this taedium vitae with its orchestral "rush", played twice to push the listener into a seductive climax of chaos. The ascending chords, all played at varying speeds by the session musicians and possibly even slightly out of tune, make a mockery of harmonic resolution and plant the listener firmly out of place: he's brought upwards by a musical sirocco only to be pushed forward again by the insistent tattoo of the piano, keeping time like a clock (it even explodes in an alarm, a happily serendipitous accident). The listener has no time to get his bearings, much less discern which end is up!
Did any pop song so masterfully manhandle its audience? Each moment of its musical spiral leaves the listener bewildered and amazed, beholding "a sound" as John called it "like the end of the world". And at the music's end is a tripled piano chord that leads the listener away from life's cacophony, instead to illustrate how indeterminate is the moment where a full rush of sound majestically decays into silence. Like life, you can't quite make out what's really *what*--- where "news" stops and the true story begins...or how to tell when the music's over.
Blast it...looks like it took me *more* than a thousand words, after
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