The Story Behind “Good Day Sunshine” by The Beatles and How It Was Inspired by a Lovin’ Spoonful Hit

For a song to last and survive the test of time, it must be relatable and relevant over generations. As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, things we are accustomed to change and become obsolete. Typewriters, newspapers, payphones, and fold-up maps fall into this category. To avoid becoming irrelevant, songs can be about the four basic elements: earth, water, fire, and air. Many songwriters have utilized these in metaphors or similes.

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Writing about the sun will, hopefully, be timeless. “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Here Comes the Sun” are just a few of the many popular songs that compare the hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium with the happiness and contentment of a relationship. Let’s take a look at the story behind “Good Day Sunshine” by The Beatles.

Summer Heat Wave

The summer of 1966 was one of the hottest on record up to that time. U.S. States east of the Rocky Mountains were hit the hardest. The Beatles toured America in August. They had some famous visitors during their New York City appearance at Shea Stadium. Paul McCartney talked with author Paul Du Noyer in his 2015 book Conversations with McCartney: “Backstage there was a buzz. New York bands like the Young Rascals coming round, The Lovin’ Spoonful, the local guys, who we were fans of. That was the nice thing about the sixties. We all loved each other’s records. We were all starting out on this career, and we admired each other.”

John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful especially inspired McCartney with songs like “Daydream” and “Summer in the City.” McCartney continued: “What a day for a daydream. That really epitomized the summer to us and caused me to write ‘Good Day Sunshine.’ So, it was great to meet someone like him and those bands. It was a real cool thing going on backstage.”

Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine


As The Beatles were coming to the end of their touring days, they released Revolver. It was their last album with different tracks on the UK and U.S. versions. Both releases included “Good Day Sunshine” as the opening song on Side Two. In his 2021 book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, McCartney shared more information about writing the song with John Lennon: “We wanted to write something sunny. Both John and I had grown up while the music hall tradition was still very vibrant, so it was always in the back of our minds. There are lots of songs about the sun, and they make you happy—’The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ or ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street.’ It was now time for us to do ours. So we’ve got love and sun. What more do we want? We take a walk / The sun is shining down / Burns my feet as they touch the ground—that was a nice memory of summer. Then we’d lie beneath a shady tree / I love her, and she’s loving me. It’s really a very happy song.”

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good in a special way
I’m in love, and it’s a sunny day
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

“Let’s Write a Swimming Pool”

McCartney co-wrote the song with Lennon but later claimed it was mostly his. He began composing it on Lennon’s piano. McCartney explained: “I would often arrive at John’s place with a fully formed idea. Sometimes, I would have to wait if John was late getting up; he was a lazy bastard, whereas I was a very enthusiastic young man. Mind you, if I did have to wait, there was a little swimming pool I could sit beside. Bought with our songwriting money. We used to joke about that. Once we realized the monetary value of what we were doing, we would joke, ‘Let’s write a swimming pool.”

We take a walk. The sun is shining down
Burns my feet as they touch the ground
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

Listen and Learn

The Beatles recorded the song over two days in June 1966. McCartney played piano on the main track, while producer George Martin overdubbed a piano part at half-speed so that it was higher pitched. The song used different time signatures, but the band just played it by feel. It was not specifically written out. Wrote McCartney: “I have talked to classical composers who puzzle over the time signature, but we never laid out the time signature. We just went, ‘It goes like this.’ …. Classical people can’t say, ‘It goes like this’ because they’re invested in formalized notation—they’ve got to know whether it’s 3/4 time or 5/4 or something else—and that was definitely the tradition with all the groups. Sure, we’d all had piano lessons, but none of us had enjoyed them.

“It’s worth recalling that there was no sheet music to look at.,” he continued “It’s quite tricky, but our method was just to listen to a song and learn it, and that was where our investment came from. If someone is just reading off the notes—’one two three, one two three four’—I always feel as if they don’t enjoy it as much. It’s a job.”

And then we lie beneath a shady tree
I love her, and she’s loving me
She feels good, she knows she’s looking fine
I’m so proud to know that she is mine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine 

Out of This World

NASA’s Space Shuttle mission STS-135 used “Good Day Sunshine” as wake-up music. In November 2005, McCartney performed the song live to the crew of the International Space Station. He introduced it with the following message: “Guess you might as well have a sunny, happy number to start your day when you’re crammed into living space the size of a bus surrounded by infinite vacuum.”

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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