Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rubber Soul

Recording Dates: October 12, 1965- November 15, 1965
Total Album Time: 34:50
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Released: December 3, 1965 (UK)
                 December 6, 1965 (US)
John Lennon:
vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Vox Continental organ, tambourine
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, sitar, tambourine
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, cowbell, tambourine, maracas, percussion, bells, Hammond organ
George Martin: piano, harmonium, tambourine
Mal Evans: Hammond organ

Rubber Soul was The Beatles sixth released album in the UK and eleventh US long-player. It was, as Paul once called it, the 'Grown up album'. In the early days the group was highly influenced by American singers and songwriters like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. The whole American rhythm-and-blues but now they were being influenced, or becoming more aware of Motown and black music  and then into apparent classical and modern music as George Martin said.
"By the time of Rubber Soul they were ready for new musical directions." -George Martin
Beatles producer, George Martin, has also spoken about recording with The Beatles during the Rubber Soul time as the group always searching for a new sound and always willing to try any new instruments (which could be factored in with George Harrison's interest in the sitar) even if they didn't know how to play it or anything about them. 

Throughout their musical careers The Beatles were always being introduced to drugs,
"It was like pills influenced us in Hamburg, drink influenced us in so and so, I mean, we weren't all stoned making Rubber Soul, because in those days we couldn't work on pot. We never recorded under acid." -John Lennon (1972)
John even says in that Rubber Soul was the pot album and Revolver was the acid. Ringo even said that,
"There was a lot of experimentation on Rubber Soul, influenced, I think by the substances."
He continues to say that because of these substances recording and things would take longer. George even reflected saying it made them feel ill. It's no secret that the group used drugs, especially pot after being introduced to it by Bob Dylan in 1964 (Read more Bob Dylan and The Beatles first experience with marijuana here).  George Harrison describes one recording session as,
"Mal and Neil would sit in Studio No. 2 behind the sound baffles while we were working, rolling them up and smoking. You can hear on one of the tapes from the sessions a song starts and John goes, 'Hang on. 'ang on...' and Paul starts filling in for him. Then John comes back; 'Ahhhhh. OK, OK.' And by the time the engineers have rewound the tape you're thing, 'I'll just go and have another hit.'"
"When we did take too many substances, the music was shit, absolute shit. At the time we'd think it was great, but when we came to record the next day we'd all look at each other and say, 'we'll have to do that again..'"- Ringo Starr
  1. Drive My Car;
The album starts with "Drive My Car" a song that can be interrupted in many different ways. As Paul says, "What's is it? What's he doing? Is he offering a job as a chauffeur, or what?" McCartney even says that the song was one of the 'stickiest' songs he ever wrote. It started with this one phrase, "You can buy me golden rings" and says he struggled with the song for hours, too long. Suddenly it hit McCartney and Lennon, "Baby, you can drive my car!" and that's how the song came to be. They were glad with the fact of how ambitious the song was and is and how many different scenarios. 
       2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown);

John had written "Norwegian Wood" about an affair he was having and said he was very 'careful' and 'paranoid' about writing it and the affair itself because he didn't want his first wife, Cynthia Powell, to find out (Read more about Cynthia here). Saying he was always having some kind of affair and this was a way to be sophisticated about writing about the affairs. During this time George Harrison had already been introduced to the sitar, first really seeing it when filming "Help!" in a restaurant scene where he first started messing around with the instrument.The group went through many versions of the song because it wasn't coming out like John wanted and he was getting angry.
"It was such a mind-blower that we had this strange instrument on the record. We were all open to anything when George introduced the sitar; you could walk in with an elephant, as long as it was going to make a musical note. Anything was viable. Our whole attitude was changing. We'd grown up a little, I think." -Ringo Starr
         3. Nowhere Man

Paul McCartney recalls the sang as a song written by John after coming in from a big night and not going to bed till about five in the morning. John had come to Paul telling him that he had just started a song the previous night.
"It turned out later that it was about me." -Paul McCartney
Although Paul says it was written about him John really says that the song was inspired by himself,
"I was just sitting, trying to think, and I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and going nowhere," he continues, "I thought of myself as a Nowhere Man sitting in this Nowhere Land" -John Lennon (1967)
It was one of those songs, like "Across The Universe" on Let It Be, that came all at once, music, words, the whole thing. 

          4.Think For Yourself

          5. The Word

          6. Michelle 
A song that started with John and Paul walking and Paul humming the first few bars with the words  then turning to Lennon for help.  Where John remembers how he was listening to Nina Simone and a refrain from "I Put A Spell On You" that went, " I love you, I love you, I Love you." which became the middle eight: "I Love You, I love you, I l-o-oove you" in "Michelle".
When it was released Paul describes it as a 'walking on pins and needles', it was different then what they were playing and that's what makes it unique. McCartney compares it to Cliff Richards "Living Doll" and how when it first was released it was so out of left-field.
            7. What Goes On
The only song credited to Lennon-McCartney-Starr

            8. Girl
"'Girl' is real. There is no such thing as the girl; she was a dream, but the words are all right, it wasn't just a song, and it was about that girl- that turned out to be Yoko, in the end- the one that a lot of us were looking for."- John Lennon
In the same interview (from 1970) John says that he was trying to say something about Christianity. Saying that it was heavily on the church but was never picked up. It's about having to be tortured to get to heaven, the Catholic and Christian concept. "Be tortured and then it'll be all right.; which seems to be true." John didn't believe in that, the whole having to be tortured to be accepted into  anything.

            9. I'm Looking Through You
Just like other Beatles songs during this time, "You Won't See Me" and "We Can Work It Out"  this song was based off of a fight Paul had with his current girlfriend, Jane Asher.
"As is one's wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things, and a couple of the songs around this period were that kind of thing. This one I remember particularly as me being disillusioned over her commitment. She went down to the Bristol Old Vic quite a lot around this time. Suffice to say that this one was probably related to that romantic episode and I was seeing through her fa├žade. And realising that it wasn't quite all that it seemed. I would write it out in a song and then I've got rid of the emotion. I don't hold grudges so that gets rid of that little bit of emotional baggage. I remember specifically this one being about that, getting rid of some emotional baggage. 'I'm looking through you, and you're not there!'"- Paul McCartney
            10. In My Life
One of the greatest songs John Lennon has ever written. George Martin even says it's one of his favorites because its 'so much John'. John even calls it his 'first real song'.
"It was the first song that i wrote that was really, consciously, about my life."
The song came about when John released his first book, In His Own Write when a journalist asked ' Why don't you put some of the way you write in the book in the songs? or Why don't you put something about your childhood into your songs?'  The song goes through a bus route from his aunt and uncles home at 251 Menlove Avenue to the town.
"'In My Life' a remembrance of friends and lovers of the past."- John Lennon
            11. Wait

            12. If I Needed Someone
Up to this point the songwriting was mostly the Lennon- McCartney duo. George Harrison had been writing since With The Beatles and when he did start writing he had to suddenly just jump into it saying, "John and Paul had been writing since they were three years old."
"I had to come from nowhere and start writing and have something with at least enough quality to put on the record."- George Harrison
           13. Run For Your Life
 A song that John never liked because it was a song that was 'just knocked off'. Although it was always one of George's favorites.
John said that the song was inspired by "Baby Let's Play House" by Elvis. There was a line that went " I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man." The rest of the song was based around that line.

Charts and Release: 
The album was released on December 3, 1965 in the UK and entered the UK charts on December 11 and soon replaced Help! on December 25. The album was number one for nine weeks straight and remained for another forty-two weeks.

The LP was released three days  after the UK release and joined the US charts on the same day as the UK. It stayed in the charts for fifty-nine weeks. Even the following year on January 8, 1966 spent six weeks at number one.


Like With The Beatles to Rubber Soul all of the album covers had been taken by Robert Freeman. The photo session was taken at John's Weybridge home. The Rubber Soul album cover has a unique feature caused by a card that the picture as projecting fell backwards and stretched The Beatles faces.
"I liked the way we got out faces to be longer on the album cover, we lost the 'little innocents' tag, the naivety and Rubber Soul was the first one where we were fully-fledged potheads."- George Harrison

Fun Facts:
  • It sold 1.2 million copies in nine days of it's release in the US
  •  There were two different stereo version released in America. "Dexter stereo" and "East Coast" Version. 
  • The US released added a double-tracked vocals on The Word by John Lennon. 
  • "Golden Rings" from the original 'Drive My Car' became "Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Yeah!"
  • Paul says that when it came to song writing, the melody, "In My Life" was the only song that John and him really disagreed on.
  • In "Girl" The Beatles were singing "Tit-tit-tit-tit' In the background and nobody noticed. 
  • Rubber Soul was George Harrison's favorite album 
"A lot was changing- our attitudes, our lives- at this time, and the Rubber Soul session were the start of the building- up to the end, in away we were doing great stuff and the results were great." -Ringo Starr

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