“Day Tripper” is a song by the English rock band The Beatles that was released as a double A-side single with “We Can Work It Out” in December 1965. Written primarily by John Lennon, it was credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. Both songs were recorded during the sessions for the band’s Rubber Soul album. The single topped charts in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway. In the United States, “Day Tripper” peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while “We Can Work It Out” held the top position. The track is a rock song based around an electric guitar riff and was included in the Beatles’ concert setlist until their retirement from live performances in late August 1966.
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.
“Day Tripper” was a typical play on words by Lennon. In 1980 he recalled: “Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But [the song] was kind of … you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?” In the same interview, Lennon said of the song: “That’s mine. Including the lick, the guitar break and the whole bit.”
In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, however, Lennon used “Day Tripper” as one example of his and McCartney’s collaboration, where one partner had the main idea but the other took up the cause and completed it. For his part, McCartney claimed it was very much a collaboration based on Lennon’s original idea. In the book Many Years from Now, McCartney said that “Day Tripper” was about drugs, and “a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was … committed only in part to the idea”. The line “she’s a big teaser” is a double entendre for “she’s a prick teaser.”
According to music critic Ian MacDonald, the song:
…starts as a twelve-bar blues in E, which makes a feint at turning into a twelve-bar in the relative minor (i.e. the chorus) before doubling back to the expected B—another joke from a group which had clearly decided that wit was to be their new gimmick.
In 1966 McCartney told Melody Maker that “Day Tripper” and “Drive My Car” (recorded three days prior) were “funny songs, songs with jokes in”.
The song was recorded on 16 October 1965. The Beatles recorded the basic rhythm track for “If I Needed Someone” after completing “Day Tripper”.
In 1966, the original stereo mix of “Day Tripper” was included on the US album Yesterday and Today, and in November of that year the song was remixed, for the stereo version of the British A Collection of Beatles Oldies compilation. “Day Tripper” was later featured on the band’s 1962–1966 compilation, released in 1973, with CD versions of that album replacing the original stereo mix with the November 1966 remix. The remix also appears on the Past Masters compilation, first released in 1988.
Both stereo mixes contain some noticeable engineering errors. MacDonald highlights a “bad punch-in edit”, at the 1:50 mark, on the track containing the vocals. For a second or so just after the solo, the track containing guitar and tambourine drops out – a result of the parts being momentarily erased by mistake. Bootleg releases of an early mix feature a technical glitch on the session tape itself. The drop-out was fixed for the release of the 2000 compilation 1, by copying the required sounds from another point in the song.
The Beatles filmed three different music videos, directed by Joe McGrath, on 23 November 1965. These videos, along with a batch of other mimed performances (including the song’s flip-side, “We Can Work It Out”), were meant to be sent to various television music and variety shows, to air on those programs in lieu of personal studio appearances. The Beatles’ decision to send out independently produced videos to promote their music on television was, in practice, an embryonic form of the modern music video – George Harrison would later remark jokingly that the Beatles had “invented MTV.” One of the November 1965 promotional videos was included in the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1, and two were included in the three-disc versions of the compilation, titled 1+.
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