By Tim Hayes
Close your eyes and you can hear it. That explosion of sunshine from George Harrison’s guitar. That aural blast of brilliance, excitement, and innocence. The iconic blending of sounds in the distinctive chord at the beginning of the Beatles’ classic, “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Bwaanngggggg!!! … … …”It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been workin’ like a dog…”
I dare you to hear the opening chord of that song in your head – or, better, to play it on your iTunes – and not have a smile spread across your face instantly. What is it about that symphony of soundwaves, that panoply of pitches, that tableau of tones, that’s been energizing listeners for nearly 50 years since its first release on July 10, 1964?
It’s a single chord, for Pete’s sake, held for only three seconds before John Lennon and Paul McCartney start singing the actual song. You never hear that chord again at any point of the tune, except at the very end when the notes are played one at a time in an arpeggio.
But it’s such a unique sound. So unique that it demands attention. Spurs an emotional reaction. Flies into your ears and washes over your brain. It may be the greatest chord in rock-and-roll.
Musicians have attempted to decipher the identity of the chord, its musical structure. Some theories include:
- A dominant 9th of F in the key of C
- C-Bb-D-F-G-C in the key of C
- A polytriad ii7/V in Ab major
- G7sus4 (open position)
- D7sus4 (open position)
- G7 with added 9th and suspended 4th
- A superimposition of Dm, F, and G
- Dm11 with no 9th
Now understand, none of these listings means a hill of beans to me. I played the drums. I could have kept the beat and hit the cowbell during “A Hard Day’s Night.” Otherwise, I’m lost. The chord, thankfully, was confirmed by George Harrison as a Fadd9 – whatever that is – during an online chat on 15 February 2001:
Q: Mr. Harrison, what is the opening chord you used for “A Hard Day’s Night?”
A: “It is F with a G on top (on the 12-string), but you’ll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story.”
You see? Even the guy who played it doesn’t know the whole picture. It’s fascinating.
So why am I bringing all of this up? It’s to prove that sometimes – whether through careful planning, or applied technique, or accumulated knowledge, or just plain good old dumb luck – the most amazing things can happen.
Things that rise above the pack and set a new standard.
Things that people find joy in experiencing.
Things that take on added meaning.
Things that last.
Things like that marvelous, wonderful, sheer bliss-inducing blast of sunshine from George Harrison’s 12-string guitar.
Go play your copy of “A Hard Day’s Night” and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you. And pay attention to similar moments of blessing and surprise in your life, because they’re all around.
Copyright 2013 Tim Hayes Consulting