Only Some Northern Songs in
Rubber Soul



The Beatles were required in 1965 once more, to deliver two albums of new material. What nowadays would be not only unthinkable, but also would imply a certain lack of quality in many of the songs, turned out for The Beatles wonderfully, releasing in 1965 not only Help! but also Rubber Soul. What for many Beatles fans is their favourite album, was a result of quite hurriedly composition and recording. In just three months the fab Four completed a solid, innovative and even fresh album.

If we consider that only a couple of months passed between the release of Help! until the beginning of sessions for Rubber Soul, we have to admit that something strange happened between both albums to produce the evident change of style. Rubber Soul is often regarded as the bridge between Help! and Revolver, between the classic Pop and the experimental "self-conscious" period. The truth is that during the summer of 1965, George and John were introduced to LSD, and this was to mark much of The Beatles music for quite a while. The album cover was once again innovative, and a reflection of early drug experimentation by The Beatles. The name of the album, seems now to have a clear origin in Paul. As heard in the Anthology 2 Paul says at the end of I'm Down "plastic soul man, plastic soul" The phrase was coined by black musicians referring to Mick Jagger and probably refers in general to white musicians playing soul... but not for real.

Although both Paul and John were quite in a hurry when writing songs for Rubber Soul, the final result doesn't reflect so. John addmited having even "borrowed" some lyrics, and however, The Beatles had time to keep experimenting with new instruments, and for the first time in their career, with variation of tape speed while producing a song. George Martin described it as "the first album to present a new, growing Beatles to the world. For the first time we began to think of albums as art of their own, as complete entities"

  • Rubber Soul
  • Recording Dates October 12th - November 15th, 1965
  • Release Date: December 3rd, 1965

Drive My Car

McCartney
John:Tambourine and Lead Vocal
Paul:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

An impressive song by Paul, which he wrote almost all by himself. However, he remembered this song as the only one he got stuck on, and when he told John that the chorus would go "I can give you golden rings, I can give you anything, Baby i love you"... John just thought it was crap. In a few minutes the song had the car twist with its beeps and a handful of possible double meanings. Paul regarded later the song as one of the "funny numbers" in Rubber Soul.

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

Working Title:This Bird Has Flown
Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Sitar
Ringo:Finger Cymbals, Tambourine, Maraca

John wrote Norwegian Wood (This bird Has Flown) during a skiing holiday in St. Moritz (Switzerland) according to Turner, while Harry affirms that it was at Kenwood with George. Certainly a Beatles classic nowadays, the song had a certain impact at the time for being the first time that a sitar appeared on a western music record. The instrument was brought, naturally by George and it was double tracked for the song.

The song has often been subject of study for beatlemaniacs due to its vague meaning. It is quite clear now, that John was writing about a true infidelity, and did soften the end of the song ot hide it from his wife Cynthia. Discussion usually deals on John burning the apartment down (an idea apparently suggested by Paul) Specially remarkable are Backing vocals by Paul and Ringo's rythm track, far away from his sure drum beat.

You Won't See Me

McCartney
John:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums
(Mal Evans:Hammond Organ)

This McCartney song is another personal favourite. The oooh-la-la-la-las by John and George are a delicious touch to a song that has more in it than it apparently seems at first sight. Mal Evans is credited in the sleeve to play Hammond Organ, listen carefully to the "A" note played throughout the second verse and the fade out. Even more curious than that is the song's tempo, steadily going slower throughout the whole number. Although this hasn't been documented before (at least to my knowledge) I personally have timed parts of the song and what my ear semt to be guessing at first is true. Ringo slows down the song!!! And the effect achieved by doing so is just perfect, the oooh-lalalas getting longer and Paul's voice sounding even more anxious. Finally I'd like to highlight the "No i wouldn't no I wouldn't" Backing by John before the verse is started again. A jewel of Beatles composition.

Nowhere Man

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums

For us lovers of Beatles harmonies, Nowhereman, together with Because and Yes It Is is a gift from heaven. John wrote this 3-part Harmony song while at Kenwood. After trying to get any song at all composed, John laid down and just imagined himself as a real Nowhere Man, sitting in his nowhereland. The song would be a beautiful a capella song as the beginning reveals, and you can even try it out for yourselves, for the right channel in the Stereo version features only vocals. Once again Beatles Oooooh-la-la-las are right on the spot.

Think For Yourself

Working Title:Won't Be There With You
Harrison
John:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Paul:Fuzz Bass and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums, Maracas.

One of the two Harrison songs in Rubber Soul, saw the apparition of the newly invented fuzz bass guitar played by Paul. Paul didn't seem to like a lot the sound of the new bass, since he didn't use it again until 4 years later. The song is probably one of the weakest in the record, and yet it's a good song. George commented in "I Me Mine" that the song sounded as if it was about someone... but he couldn't recall who... probably the government.

The Word

Lennon
John:Rythm Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar, Piano and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums and Maracas
George Martin:Harmonium

The Word is Love! This fine song by John was a prelude of what was to come. It definitely sounds like the predecessor of a Summer of Love anthem, and although very different in their music, the message is not far apart from "All You Need is Love". Thanks to a brilliant sound provided by a repetitive guitar backing, the steady piano and the high pitched harmonies, John transmits the enthusiasm of the word "love". John told Playboy that it was a song about "getting smart". "It's the marijuana period, it's the love and peace thing. The word is "love", right?"

Michelle

McCartney
John:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

One of The Beatles best known songs for the general public, and probably also one by which they judge the total output of the group. The truth is that Paul hit the spot again with this song. Within a month of being released there were 20 covers of the song made, and the number later reached 700 worldwide. The number had started out as a parody Paul did of some french songs sung at a party he attended. When finally ancouraged by John he put real words to it, he decided it should have some real French. He asked Jan Vaughan, a french teacher married to his friend Ian Vaughan to suggest him with a 2 syllable french name and a rhyme... and she came up with "Michelle, ma belle" and later translated the other french line in the song. The song hit number 1 in France as well, despite Paul's probable lack of a proper French accent.

What Goes On

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar
Ringo:Drums and Lead Vocal

This was a Lennon composition from early Beatles days. The truth is that as release date was getting closer, the group needed more songs to complete the album. Ringo didn't have yet his usual number, and so What Goes On was recovered for Rubber Soul. They had previously tried to record it on March 5th 1963. The song was given a new middle eight by Paul and Ringo (who was given a composer credit for the first time) and recorded in a single take with overdubs. The number is a country style song, with superb harmonies by John and Paul. Once asked about his real contribution to the song, Ringo said "about five words"

Girl

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

This song has become a Beatles classic through the years, and yet it was written by John under pressure, since the LP deadline was quite close. The lyrics according to John arenot about any girl in special, but a dream girl. However that's just the most obvious reference in the song. As john later admitted, the line ".. a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure..." was a direct reference to the Christian church, and specially with this thought which John didn't share. The backing vocals by Paul and George are nothing but the word "tit" being repeated contionuously. The song is totally acoustic. A fuzz guitar was recorded by George, but wasn't mixed onto the record. The final solo has a quite strong reminiscence of Greek music.

I'm Looking Through You

McCartney
John:Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Tambourine
Ringo:Drums, Hammond organ

When Paul wrote this song, he was living in a small room at the Asher's family home in London. however, Jane Asher, his girlfriend, had just moved to Bristol continuing her acting career. Paul during those days had a quite selfish attitude towards women, said "you're leaving... well, I'll get someone else then". Ringo is credited with playing the Hammond Organ in the album sleeve, and although in some sources it is resported missing, it can be heard after "...you're not the same" hitting the 2 short chords previous to George's guitar (a kind of beep-beep).

In My Life

Lennon-McCartney
John:Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar
Ringo:Drums
George Martin:Double Speed Piano

John had decided to write a byographical song almost a year before he did In My Life. He started the song as a long poem, in which he related a bus trip from Menlove Avenue, where he lived, into dowtown Liverpool. Places such as Penny Lane and Strawberry Field were mentioned. However, these lyrics didn't sattisfy John, who discovered they were somehow boring. He then got the words we all know, about the places he remembered and the friends, dead andliving (he was talking about Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Shotton)

Although John remembered Paul having written the middle eight, Paul recalls having written the complete melody based on John's lyrics. The solo secion was left blank, and later featured a baroque style solo by George Martin. The curious sound evoking that of a pianoforte was achieved by recording the piano and then playing it at double speed. John thought of In My Life as his "first major piece of work" The lyrics are featured on a wall in the site of the Cavern Club

Wait

Lennon-McCartney
John:Tambourine and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Lead Vocal
George:Lead Guitar
Ringo:Drums and Maracas

Wait is one of those fill up numbers by The Beatles. The song was recorded for Help! but was discarded back then. Only a month away from Cristmas, on November the 11th, the Beatles added a tone pedal guitar, maracas and some vocals on the 5 months old Wait to complete Rubber Soul.

If I Needed Someone

Harrison
John:Tambourine and Backing Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Ringo:Drums
George Martin:Harmonium

George referred to If I Needed Someone, as one of he many melodies one gets from playing around with the D Chord. ALthough it certainly os a quite simple song, the personal Harrison touch wich would be characteristic of later songs can already be heard in this song. The number was inspired on two songs by The Birds: "The Bells of Rhymney" and "She Don't Care About Time"

Run For Your Life

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul:Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Lead Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo:Drums

The last song of Rubber Soul was the first one to be recorded. It was probably placed last on side B because John Lennon hated it. The reason for it was mainly having used two lines from a song once sung by Elvis "Baby Let's Play House" The truth is that the song is musically more than correct, and to be honest, although John used the "I'd rather see you dead little girl, than to be with another man" he gave it a more literal meaning, making of it almost a comic number.


©Copyright 1996-2000 Enrique Cabrera
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