How a news story about potholes became part of rock history

How a news story about potholes became part of rock history

On this day in 1967, British tabloid The Daily Mail ran a story about potholes in Lancashire, inspiring the Beatles’ classic A Day In The Life.

It’s something most news writers would never dream of: a seemingly innocuous article you put out into the world being noticed and referenced by one of the biggest celebrities in the world. It reminds me of the time a friend of mine was called “jealous” by Lana Del Rey after an article she wrote caught the singer’s attention.

As a woman who has spent the past nine years haplessly worshipping at the altar of Lana Del Rey, getting called ‘jealous’ by her over Twitter feels like the melancholy girls equivalent of receiving a knighthood,” she wrote of the occurrence.

The Beatles 1967
The Beatles in 1967 (Credit: Capitol)

If your news piece earning you some Twitter sass from Lana is a knighthood, then having your article referenced in one of The Beatle’s greatest-ever songs must feel nothing short of godly, and that’s exactly what happened for a writer at The Daily Mail in 1967.

It was on this very day more than half a century ago that The Daily Mail published a story about Blackburn, Lancashire’s roads being littered with 4,000 potholes, a rather dull story, but one that I as a Sydney driver can certainly empathise with (how my poor little Subaru still has functional suspension after three years of navigating La Niña potholes is beyond me).

The story clearly caused a stir with John Lennon as well, as the piece became the inspiration behind his iconic third verse in A Day In The Life.

I read the news today—oh, boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

A Day In The Life the Beatles news clipping
The Daily Mail article that eventually found itself mentioned in ‘A Day In The Life’ (Credit: Liverpool Preservation Trust)

The lyrics quickly became iconic, so much so that Lennon’s rough draft of them, written in felt marker and ballpoint pen, became one of rock and roll’s most sought-after artifacts.

The handwritten lyric drafts were auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 2010, and were expected to fetch somewhere in the range of $500,000 to $800,000. They ended up selling for far more than that, though: a whopping $1.2 million. At that price, the lyrics are just behind All You Need Is Love‘s which sold for $1.25 million in 2005 and currently hold the record for most valuable Beatles lyrics.

Day in the Life lyrics
John Lennon’s hand-written lyrics to ‘A Day In The Life’ (Credit: Reuters)

From an innocuous article about potholes to rock and roll history worth millions, you never know where your words will take you. And hey, if any rockstars want to grab a headline from me to use in a song, hit me up.