Huge nerd-essay incoming. Posting it in the dumpster cos I guarantee fuckin nobody actually cares about this.
The song A Day In The Life is the closing track on The Beatles' most iconic record Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I have a very good reason to believe, as I'll explain shortly, why The Beatles are bringing forth issues of postmodernity, hyperreality, and alienation with this song/record.
I do not think The Beatles are marxists/communists lol
I'm uncertain as to how much of this was actually premeditated by the composers of this song themselves, however, given how deep the metaphors seem to run, I feel confident in saying that they were generally pointing in this direction themselves. Even if they had no idea about any of these concepts and were just really high, I think this'll prove to be a fascinating way of understanding the world through art
The Song's Place in Context of the Album
So first of all, the song takes place at the end of the Sgt. Peppers album, but more precisely, it plays after the fictional Sgt. Peppers band play their outro. So A Day In The Life is seemingly the album's epilogue; It's no longer playing along with the "fictional band" idea, but is lifting the mask off, and we see The Beatles performing as The Beatles themselves. This is just the first of many layers of irony/hyperreality.
John's First Two Verses
John is mixing up and interweaving different narratives/perceptions of events as perceived through media - particularly the news, a film based on a book, and the book itself. Yet even still the narrative is confusing and the crowd seems to play into this confusion - They stare at the horrific accident but turn away at the sight of the English army winning the war in the movie. John is precisely depicting a higher level conflict between his reality and the "crowd's" reality, but both/all conceptions are ultimately confused and ambiguous.
Then the famous "I'd love to turn you on" line, obviously in reference to the idea of turning on a television - again, another form of media consumption and source/cause of alienation.
Waking Up - Paul's Verse
What follows is the orchestral build-up, followed by the sound of the alarm clock and Paul's verse. Paul's verse is meant to be straightforward - He just got up from the confusing dream depicted in John's first two verses, and gets on with his daily routine. Here, everything is perfectly normal until the very last line in his verse "somebody spoke and I went into a dream" and the bridge back to John's third verse - Even in our day to day routine when we are seemingly dealing with surface-level reality, we are sucked into a confusing, almost transcendental hyperreality.
You get the deal at this point - John's third verse is the same thing; Depiction of nonsensical hyperreality. The "I'd love to turn you on" and orchestral build up come back once again, signalling that, not only have we not escaped this encapsulating simulation, we're seemingly in search for more alienation from this same alienation.
The Outro - Is The Song Ever Really Finished?
My favourite bit. The song ends, instead of with a dissonant orchestral improvisation, it ends with a perfectly harmonious piano chord, signalling we have seemingly escaped the cycle, are at peace, and that the song is over. Yet this is far from the case. The irony here kicks in on multiple levels.
- You, as the listener, are consciously going through reality enjoying a song about alienation and hyperreality. By simply listening to it, you are a further layer deeper into this simulation than the narrators of the song themselves.
- After the piano chord drowns out, the vinyl pressing of the album has a locked grove at the very end, with the sound of a TV being turned on and looping infinitely. The irony here is multiplied - You as the listener have no choice but to endure the alienation of postmodernity for the rest of time (represented by the locked grove which plays out infinitely). When you chose to turn off your turntable and switch off the record however, you go back into your daily routine, and continue on with the simulation nonetheless.Switching off the music is not an escape from hyperreality, but an escape into it.
This shit blows my fuckin mind bro. The fact that all of this is at the end of a concept album where The Beatles pretend to be a fictional band; The entire albums metaphor is recursively presented once again in the album's closing track