Revolver Deep Dive Part 8: Good Day Sunshine

Side Two, Track One

Good Day, Great Song!

by Jude Southerland Kessler with Special Guest, Ivor Davis


The Fest for Beatles Fans kicks off the exciting 60th Anniversary of 1964 – that landmark year in which many significant Beatles events (including The Beatles’ first trip to America and the release of the film “A Hard Day’s Night” with its remarkable soundtrack LP) took place! Simultaneously, The Fest will celebrate its 50th Anniversary – by gathering at the TWA Hotel in New York on Feb. 9-11. (Yes, the very date that The Beatles were first featured on “The Ed Sullivan Show”!) I’ll be there, and I hope you will be, too!


This month, our Fest Blog will add to the festivities by continuing our in-depth study of Revolver. We’re flipping the LP onto Side Two to enjoy Track One, the appropriately jubilant song, “Good Day Sunshine”!


Joining us this month to explore McCartney’s upbeat classic is the most upbeat of authors, the former Foreign Correspondent for the Daily Express – the man who toured with The Beatles in 1964 and went with them to meet Elvis in 1965, Ivor Davis. Ivor has been a guest at many Fests and is one of our favorite people in the vast Beatles family. We’re hoping he returns to the Chicago Fest in August as he releases the extended, enhanced version of his detailed work, The Beatles and Me on Tour. Let’s see what this respected British journalist, noted author, and Fest friend has to say about “Good Day Sunshine” as he gives it a “fresh, new look.”

But first, please join me for the “song stats”…

– Jude


What’s Standard:


Date Recorded: 8 June 1966 – The Beatles rehearsed “A Good Day’s Sunshine” (the original title) for quite a while, eventually recording three takes that comprised the rhythm track: bass guitar, drums, and piano. “Take One” was selected as “best.” (Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions, 82) Then, according to many sources, the tape was rewound, and Paul recorded a lead vocal with backing vocals by John and George on a second track. This was accomplished using frequency control (or “varispeed”) at a slightly slower than normal speed. When played at regular tempo, the vocals would be pitched a semitone higher. (Hammack, 148)

Time recorded: 2.30 p.m. – 2.30 a.m. (The rehearsals took up most of this time frame, with the actual recording of the three takes only consuming about an hour.)


Technical Team:

Producer: George Martin

Sound Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Second Engineer: Richard Lush


9 June 1966 – Onto “Take One,” Ringo added another bass drum, snare drum, and cymbals on a third track. (Winn, 24) Then, on a fourth track (Winn, 24) George Martin added what Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles Recording Sessions (p. 82) refers to as “a honky-tonk piano solo for the song’s middle eight.” This unusual sound was also achieved via the use, once again, of varispeed. The solo was taped at 56 cycles per second so that when played at normal tempo, it would sound brighter. Handclaps were also added along with extra harmonies by John and George.

Location for both sessions: EMI, Studio Two

Time recorded: 2.30 p.m. – 8.30 p.m.


Technical Team:

Producer: George Martin

Sound Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Second Engineer: Phil McDonald


Instrumentation and Musicians:*

Paul McCartney, the composer, played Studio Two’s Steinway “Music Room” Model “B” grand piano and sang lead vocals.


John Lennon, sang backing vocals. (Bruce Spizer in The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, p. 219, notes that you can hear John echo “She feels good” at 1.27 in the song.) Some sources (for example, Margotin and Guesdon’s All the Songs, p. 228) have John playing rhythm guitar. However, Riley in Tell Me Why says, “With piano double-tracked on both channels, there’s no need for guitar.” (p. 191) And Hammack (see below) has John possibly manning the bass guitar.


George Harrison, sang backing vocals. In The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, Hammack states that it was “either Lennon or Harrison on bass (it was not documented, nor is it discernible from the available audio which Beatle played bass).” (p. 148) Because both Harrison and Lennon were right-handed, the bass used on this song was not one of Paul’s but a 1964 Burns Nu-Sonic. (Hammack, 148)


Ringo Starr, played drums on his 1964 Ludwig Oyster “Black Pearl” Super Classic drum set as well as tambourine.


George Martin, played an original “honky-tonk” piano solo for the middle eight.


*Most information above is found in Hammack’s The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2 and supplemented as noted above.


Sources: Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions, 82, Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, 224, Winn, That Magic Feeling, 24-25, McCartney, The Lyrics, 232, Spizer, The Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, 215, Spizer, The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, 219, Turner, Beatles ’66, 203-204, Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 111-112,  Miles, The Beatles Diary, Vol. 1, 239, Margotin and Guesdon, 228-229, Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 166-169, Spignesi and Lewis, 275-276, Riley, Tell Me Why, 191, MacDonald, Revolution in the Head, 167, Womack, Long and Winding Roads (2007 edition), 143, Hammack, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, 148-150, and Mellers, Twilight of the Gods, 77.


For more information on comedians and musicians in the British Music Hall tradition, go to:


What’s Changed


  1. Incorporation of musical influences from myriad sources – Some of these include:
  2. the colorful sounds of the old British music hall with which all of The Beatles would have been quite familiar. The Empire Theatre in City Center and the Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street (to name just a few) hosted these vibrant, vaudeville variety shows featuring comedians such as Liverpool’s George Formby and Ken Dodd, as well as gifted musicians from all genres. In The Lyrics, Paul recalls, “Both John and I grew up while the music hall tradition was still very vibrant, so it was always in the back of our minds.” And here in “Good Day Sunshine,” the warm variety show vibe is woven throughout, transporting the listener back to those happy music hall days. Indeed, Riley points out that, “[t]he ragtime piano solo…is round with Joplinesque pleasure…” and “…if it weren’t for the vibrant colors of the harmonies in the refrain, [the song] would be positively old-fashioned.” (Tell Me Why, 191) Some suggest that this song is a precursor to “When I’m 64” and later, “Honey Pie.”
  3. the Folk Rock trend which was topping the charts in America. Paul has acknowledged that “Good Day Sunshine” was specifically influenced by the Lovin’ Spoonful’s laid-back “walk in the sun” hit song, “Daydream,” which had been released in February 1966. Indeed, John and Paul had recently seen the Lovin’ Spoonful in concert at London’s Soho district Marquee Club. (Turner, Beatles ’66, 204 and Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 112) Some sources list the Kinks’ hit, “Sunny Afternoon” as a source of inspiration, but The Beatles recorded “Good Day Sunshine” in early June and “Sunny Afternoon” didn’t hit the charts until 6 July 1966.
  4. the Tamla Motown beat. This influence reaches “Good Day Sunshine” in a rather meandering fashion. Of course, The Beatles had always loved the sounds of Motown, but in “Good Day Sunshine,” the “choppy guitar beat” and pounding piano that introduces the song was heavily influenced by a similar sound at the beginning of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream.” When asked about their unusual “Daydream” intro, John Sebastian (lead singer for the Spoonful) said he borrowed it from two Supremes songs, “Where Did Our Love Go?” and “Baby Love.” So, in a circuitous way, these two Motown hits also impacted “Good Day Sunshine.”


  1. Harmonic Shifts and a Raised Ending for the Song – In the song’s final chorus, The Beatles employ a clever harmonic shift, and in the concluding, cascading chants of “Good Day Sunshine,” they raise the key half a tone. These subtle but effective techniques not only supply optimism about the song’s tender love affair but also leave the listener with a sense of well-being about the world in general…particularly on this lovely, sunny day. (Miles, 239 and Margotin and Guesdon, 338-339)

Note: This raised-ending technique had only been employed by The Beatles once before: in the concluding lines of “And I Love Her.”


  1. A Joyful Song for Jane Asher – The majority of the songs that Paul had previously created for his love – the talented actress Jane Asher – focused on the couple’s struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship and two successful careers. But on Revolver, Paul penned two optimistic and contented love songs, “Here, There, and Everywhere” and “Good Day Sunshine.” In Long and Winding Roads, Womack notes that “Good Day Sunshine” is about “blissfully functional romantic love.” (p. 143) And in Twilight of the Gods, Mellers says, “The tune is a yodel equating the love experience with a sunny day.” After the stormy angst of “I’m Looking Through You,” “We Can Work It Out,” “You Won’t See Me,” and “For No One,” this is a happy change of pace.


  1. Two potential “nudge-nudge, wink-winks”…and a third that is not! – From time to time, The Beatles enjoyed amusing themselves with covert lyrical references that were slightly naughty (Think the “tit-tit-tit-tit” chant in Rubber Soul’s song “Girl”). And some believe that “Good Day Sunshine” features a few nudge-nudge, wink-winks of its own.


For example, by 1965, some British politicians and the press had begun criticizing The Beatles for their Scouse expressions and accents. So, Paul – more than any of the others – strove to use “The Queen’s English.” But when recording “Good Day Sunshine,” Davies notes, “[O]n the word ‘laugh’ in the third line, I can detect Paul doing a short, flat Northern ‘ah’ just to amuse himself.” (p. 166) It’s a brief rebellion, but satisfying nonetheless.


Then, in the third verse, when Paul sings, “I love her and she’s loving me,” Spignesi and Lewis suggest that this unusual wording might have been a tactful hint that the beloved is, in fact, making love to him. (p. 275) Was this intended? Only Paul knows for sure.


However, one thing that Paul clearly expressed unequivocally was the fact that there was no hidden drug allusion in “Good Day Sunshine.” McCartney has readily admitted that he was referring to marijuana use in the lyrics of “Got to Get You Into My Life.” But repeatedly, Paul told reporters and critics alike that “Good Day Sunshine” is simply “a very happy song.” End of story.



A Fresh New Look:


As the only journalist to tour with The Beatles from “Day One to Day End” of the 1964 North American Tour whilst simultaneously serving as ghost writer for George Harrison’s “diary” in the Daily Express, Ivor Davis knew The Beatles quite well…as a friend and companion. He also lived the exciting days of 1964 and 1965 along with them, serving as an official commentator for soccer’s World Cup tournament in 1965. Ivor’s “insider” role gives him a unique vantage point as we discuss the Summer of 1966 and the events surrounding “Good Day Sunshine.” 


Jude Southerland Kessler: Ivor, in Hunter Davies’s book Beatles Lyrics, he acknowledges the influence of American folk-rock (specifically The Lovin’ Spoonful’s hit “Daydream”) on “Good Day Sunshine.” But Davies goes on to say that within the song, he “can hear echoes of old British Music Hall tunes, the kind [Paul’s] father probably played for the whole family to sing along at Xmas.” (p. 166) Having been reared in London, what echoes and sounds of the music hall do you detect in this number?


Ivor Davis: YES, ABSOLUTELY. So much. It’s a joyful song – heralding better days to come. Don’t forget Jim McCartney was a bandleader – who had relished and reveled in all that Thirties Big Band music hall stuff – which according to Angie and Ruth McCartney – not surprisingly spilled over to Paul, and without a doubt, inspired this particular piece of music.


A quick history lesson, if I may. Back in the late Forties and Fifties, major British port cities, like London – my hometown – and of course Liverpool, were still emerging from a grim war that had flattened and left the landscape in shambles. That was a period when because of huge food shortages, Paul and the other lads were fed on such “delicacies” as atrocious egg powder – for breakfast. The powder was artificial eggs that were simply too horrible to eat. And we were all given ration books – resulting in many a hard years’ nights! And the Boys were fed cod-liver oil daily. So, times were not easy.


However, our local  music halls were the perfect pick-me-ups, where mere working-class mortals could pay a few shillings and escape into the bosom of singers like, “Two Ton” Tessie O’Shea – (dubbed thus because she was an amply endowed performer – who in today’s world would never have been labeled in that somewhat demeaning way). Tessie,  by pure coincidence, shared star billing with The Beatles when they first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February l964. Music halls and of course, popular radio comedy shows like The Goon Show, were comedic balm to help soothe all our World War II wounds.  Our happy “escape hatch.”


Kessler: The Beatles Revolver LP was released in August of 1966, and several Beatles music experts point out that “Good Day Sunshine” very aptly captured the mood of that magical summer in the UK. In fact, Spignesi and Lewis say that the song’s lyrics “fit the mood, fit the sound, and fit the times.” What events do you recall in the Summer of ’66 that might have inspired this bright and euphoric song?


Davis: In the Summer of 1966, I was invited to the Beverly Hills home of actor singer Anthony Newley and his songwriting partner Leslie Bricusse where along with film director Sir Richard Attenborough  (Dickie to us—back then) and legendary celebrity photographer Terry O’Neill, we watched England win the World Cup – beating arch rivals, the Germans. Joy was everywhere, we were all euphoric! We were 6,000 miles from England, but our joy spilled over as Britain  celebrated revenge on those Huns – and the mood in Britain was pure ecstasy.


Kessler: Ivor, as a young teen, I remember listening to Revolver and being hard-pressed to find a song that I could “like” on this strange and innovative record. I usually loved anything Lennon, but John’s “She Said She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” were “a bridge too far” for a small-town Southern girl. “Good Day Sunshine” seemed safer and more palatable. As a British foreign correspondent living in L.A. in 1966, what was your reaction to the songs on Revolver and to “Good Day Sunshine” in particular?


Davis: “Good Day Sunshine” was indeed so very palatable and uplifting.  Who amongst us, growing up in the chilly and cold climes of the British winters,  would not welcome the warm sun to begin our day?!  I remember that creative Beach Boys boss Brian Wilson, who was in L.A., said that the joyous song inspired him beyond belief. It was, he said, his tonic, because Brian suffered from long running severe depression, and he was quick to acknowledge that after hearing “Sunshine,” he was uplifted and inspired – and immediately sat down to write more joyous music – such as his huge hit, “Good Vibrations.” And, of course, I can understand why “Sunshine” was so much more palatable to a small-town Southern girl like you, Jude! Only recently I learned that “Good Day Sunshine” was the song that was automatically played every morning for isolated residents and astronauts living in U.S. Space Stations – high in the heavens of outer space!


Kessler: Now, Ivor, you’re getting ready to re-release your book, The Beatles and Me on Tour, which covers your time with the lads in 1964 and 1965…and several episodes in later years as well. I know you’ve added some new material to the book and many new photos. Since we have you with us, can you give us some hints of what this new material might include? A sneak peek for your Fest Family?


Davis: Glad you brought that up! My 60th anniversary edition of The Beatles and Me on Tour contains what I think to be a wonderful potpourri of information – along with some new fabulous photographs from some of the world’s leading Beatles cameramen including Henry Diltz, Harry Benson, Paul Harris, and the late Ron Joy and Curt Gunther. They captured The Beatles in ways no one else did!


Here are a few titbits: Paul McCartney and wife Nancy have bought a new “house” in Malibu – for a cool $5 million plus – but you would never guess where it is located! I’ll just say it’s walking distance from Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan’s Malibu palaces.


And would you believe how I literally stumbled on this info? I speak to a bunch of world-famous celebrity entertainers, including Sting, and they told me how they were all so heavily influenced to become stars—by, of course, our very own Fab Four.


Then, there’s a wonderful story about the world-famous folk singer who admits she became a “Beatle groupie” —with her eye on John, even though her world-famous boyfriend told The Beatles to keep their hands off her! You’ll enjoy that story, Jude.


Kessler: That sounds intriguing! So, tons of new info and photos headed our way in the new book…AND we’re hoping you’ll be at the Chicago Fest to sign copies for each and every one of us, Ivor! Fingers crossed! Until then…thank you very, very much for being with us for the “Good Day Sunshine” blog, and from your Fest family, sincere congratulations on your new release!


For more information on Ivor Davis and the upcoming release of his expanded version of The Beatles and Me On Tour, HEAD HERE

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