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We’d love to turn you on: Considering Bakhtin and the music of The Beatles, ‘A Day in the Life’

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From the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, this article re-reads The Beatles’ classic song ‘A Day in the Life’. Our re-reading uses Bakhtin’s chronotope. While ‘A Day in the Life’ was released in 1967, our chronotopic perspectives of it are timely. In using the chronotope to re-read this classic, we have developed an equation linking utterance to culture, time, history, the individual and interpretation. In those ways, our article not only reveals how texts are interpreted within socio-temporal constructs, but through our equation also shows how other texts may be understood and interpreted. Indeed, our equation explains the process of interpretation. Applied to ‘A Day in the Life’, our interpretation reveals the relevance of the songs lyric and music to contemporary understanding that transcends ways of being and becoming. That understanding also reflects The Beatles’ own change from four ordinary Liverpudlians to global mega-stars. Our interpretation of ‘A Day in the Life’ shows how, through lyric, The Beatles addressed their celebrity by reinstating their ordinariness within the music and lyric of the tune. Consequently, and while we concentrate on ‘A Day in the Life’ our article provides a wider view and understanding of how text and music combine to generate a timeless understanding of both meaning and interpretation.
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Keywords: Baktin; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; The Beatles; chronotope; socio-temporal; ‘A Day in the Life’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Auckland University of Technology 2: Victoria University of Wellington

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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