Brad Wheeler of The Globe and Mail writes about the various versions of "A Day in the Life" that have come down through the years, including several that earned Grammy nominations (one of which is for this year).
The song has been Grammy-nominated twice before. It lost out in 1968 to Ode to Billie Joe in the song-arrangement category; and it lost again in 2000 for Beck's studio version on George Martin's In My Life disc. But its nomination this year for best rock instrumental performance marks a rebirth of A Day in the Life as a live piece. No longer is the heaviest track on the staggering Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band album (Grammy winner, 1968) untouchable onstage.
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So it became a piece of art rather than a rock standard. “It's definitely one of their crowning achievements,” says Ron Sexsmith, a Juno-winning Toronto singer-songwriter with his own gift for words and melodies. “If it didn't have McCartney's section of the song, it would still be a great song. But only one person on this planet could have written Lennon's part. There's so much character, the way Lennon sings, the humour in it, with a kind of sadness at the same time.”