The one constant in the Beatles’ early years was evolution: in 1962-3, they recorded electrifying pop songs that birthed the Beatlemania movement. They rode that wave in 1964 but upped the ante on their songwriting, raising the bar for all their contemporaries. By 1965, they wore their Bob Dylan influence on their sleeves on the folksy Help! and explored even more styles on the diverse Rubber Soul. Revolver in 1966 took that sense of curiosity and experimentation to another level, and a year later their psychedelic work was unlike anything that had ever hit the mainstream before.
So for their first release of 1968, they pulled off their most unexpected move yet: a 1950s Fats Domino-inspired throwback. That pounding piano riff and saucy saxophone, along with Paul’s wild vocal, are a decidedly odd contrast to the surprisingly socially conscious lyrics about a woman struggling to raise her children. It seems relatively overlooked these days–at least, as overlooked as a #1 single by the biggest band of all time can be–probably because it was released between the psychedelic stuff and the eclectic but beloved White Album. Ironically, it probably would have fared better if it had been featured on that double album, where it would have shined brighter than many of the weaker cuts. (Oddly enough, it falls right in the middle for me, above and below exactly half of the White Album.)
Paul says he didn’t realize until years after the fact that there was a child for every day of the week except for Saturday. “It must have been a real night out,” he mused. Thankfully, two years earlier, the Monkees filled in the gap with an entire song devoted to “Saturday’s Child.” As usual, the Beatles followed the Monkees’ lead and brazenly took the credit.