There were all sorts of bands coming at you in the wake of The Beatles’ breakthrough “over here.” But what made The Beatles better was the quality of the recording itself. Hearing their songs on 45 did to my ears what no amount of Phil Spector on the radio ever did. You felt the presence of the music. You coveted your connection to it. It became part of you, so you became part of it. I have no doubt that if I hadn’t been smitten to some degree by this song, very early, and that film as well, I would have ignored a lot of music. Who knows?
A couple things about the song that make it one of my favorites of the many great songs from Lennon-McCartney: That opening chord, of course, for starters. It became synonymous with electric guitar rock, it announced it. There was no going back after that (witness Dylan going electric and Simon & Garfunkel having electric instruments added to “The Sounds of Silence”). The unison singing, and the way McC steps forward for the “feeling you holding me tight” verse and packs so much thrill into “tight, tiiiight, yeah” (see this video of the boys live and see how much the chicks dig it); that guitar bit from Harrison which, if I could play, I would play, but at least can whistle; the hitting on the wood block during the “when I’m home” part (at 0:46 the first time); the Lennon scream; the vision of domesticity that is so quaint—I work like a dog but “it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re gonna give me everything” (rawr!); Lennon’s delivery on “so why I love to come home” (“lurv ta come mome,” 1:36); the fact that the whole thing is there for you (but for the guitar break of course) within the first minute then just plays out again; the title which, as a phrase, is so distinctive—and which sounds like the very thing you want (if it’s been a hard day you’re going to make the most of its night); and probably the top feature: the drop from “things that you do / Will make me feel” and the way they string out the drop with “y’know I feel alright” and then sustain it and send it higher: “You know I feeeel alllright!” with those strums at the end like the aural equivalent of “. . . .”
And here, just for the fun of it, is the opening sequence of the film, with the lads on the run, laughing all the while, and McC sporting a Trotskyish beard and stache as a disguise. It would be irritating silliness if The Beatles themselves didn’t seem to find it all laughable. Yup, I've got me a copy of the spanking new Criterion Collection version . . . .