The Meaning and Story Behind “Day After Day” by Badfinger and How They Got a Little Help from “the Quiet Beatle”

Badfinger’s status as power pop icons was cemented by glorious singles such as “Day After Day.” The gorgeous, propulsive song was a Top-10 hit in 1971 on both sides of the Atlantic as the first single chosen from the band’s fourth (and many would say finest) album, Straight Up.

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What was the song about? How did the band’s connection to The Beatles help them in this instance? And why was this song just another example of the never-ending chaos that seemed to envelop this star-crossed band for most of their careers? Let’s find out all the answers as we dive into the story and meaning behind “Day After Day.”

Beatles Boost

Badfinger’s association with The Beatles was one of those giveth and taketh away situations. On the one hand, having the Fab Four on their side (Badfinger was the first signing to the Beatles’ label Apple Records) meant they received a lot of immediate publicity. They also received a hit single, when Paul McCartney doled out “Come and Get It” to help break the band.

But because of Apple’s purposely loose hierarchical structure, Badfinger’s career was often subject to the whims of many different overseers who often sent the band contradictory messages about the work they were submitting. Case in point: The circumstances surrounding the making of their fourth album, which turned out to be a convoluted process that probably didn’t do the band or the finished product any favors.

Badfinger initially recorded an album’s worth of songs with Geoff Emerick, a former Beatles’ engineer, as the producer. But when Apple execs heard the tapes, they were dissatisfied, feeling the material wouldn’t capitalize on the success the band had earned with their 1970 hit single “No Matter What.” It was only when George Harrison heard the tapes and expressed interest in working with them that the album revved up again.

“The Quiet Beatle” Speaks Up

Harrison decided he’d produce the album, which would now consist of rerecorded versions of some of the earlier shelved tracks, and a few songs newly written by the band. One of those new songs, written by Pete Ham, really impressed Harrison, so much so that the former Beatle also agreed to play a slide guitar part on the track.

Perhaps that’s why “Day After Day,” which also features piano by Leon Russell, is one of the most Beatles-sounding of all Badfinger tracks. But, as always with Badfinger, it wasn’t that simple. Harrison couldn’t complete the project because he had committed to organizing the upcoming Concert for Bangladesh.

That’s when Todd Rundgren was called upon to finish producing the album, entitled Straight Up. (It should be noted that Harrison is listed as the only producer on “Day After Day.”) While Badfinger appreciated Rundgren’s expertise, they also felt that they lost control of the project after all those machinations.

What is the Meaning of “Day After Day”?

“Day After Day,” featuring an aching melody from Pete Ham and Harrison’s acrobatic slide (Ham also contributes some slide on the track) added another Top-10 single to the Badfinger ledger. The song captures that bittersweet vibe attached to loving someone who’s far away. Listen to how the narrator moans, Looking out of my lonely room / Day after day. (Ham later changes room to gloom to drive home the extent of his sorrow).

He suggests their connection is so strong that, even in her absence, he is somehow in touch with her emotional state. Every day my mind is all around you, he sings, and, later, Every day, I feel the tears that you weep. The only thing that will solve his problems is when she returns: Bring it home, baby, make it soon / I give my love to you.

In a fairer world, this song would have been a springboard to sustained success for Badfinger. Sadly, their commercial prospects would drop off severely after the Straight Up album, as record company chaos and mismanagement put the kibosh on any momentum. None of that can take away the brilliance that occasionally shone forth from this group, with “Day After Day” an undeniably towering peak.

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Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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