IN MY LIFE, 1965
Lead Vocal: Bobby Cohen
"...my first real major piece of work."
-- John Lennon
"In My Life" is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and Rubber Soul is my (and George's) favorite Beatles album. John Lennon absolutely killed it lyrically and melodically, with "Norwegian Wood," "Nowhere Man," "In My Life," and "Girl" (plus "Day Tripper," which was written and recorded at the same time, but not included in the album). George was just starting to show his songwriting chops with "Think For Yourself" and "If I Needed Someone." It looked like Paul had a bunch of 'nothing' songs ... but then there was "Michelle"!
The Beatles had a couple months free of touring, and could devote them to songwriting and craftsmanship. The move to London, tours of the US and time in the studio had exposed them to sounds and influences that they wanted to put on a record.
World music did not exist yet as a concept, but you can hear the sitar on "Norwegian Wood" and the harmonium on "If I Needed Someone." We also get one of the first uses of fuzz bass on "Think For Yourself."
In my opinion, Rubber Soul is really where modern rock music began in terms of both song writing and production. "I Saw Her Standing There" clearly follows "Johnny B. Goode." But the songs and production on Rubber Soul define what rock music sounds like even today. Listening to Rubber Soul now certainly doesn't feel like it was released over 50 years ago! Music did not have to be all about "boy meets girl", and / or what could be created with a couple of guitars and a drum set. Rubber Soul challenged Brian Wilson to come up with Pet Sounds, which challenged The Beatles to come up with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And the world of music was changed forever!
I don't know what to say about this song. It's just a brilliantly moving combination of words and music. Very much a John Lennon song, "In My Life" is on pretty much every list of the greatest rock songs of all time.
John said the song started as a song about childhood memories, but he dropped that idea, calling it "the most boring 'what I did on my holiday bus trip' song." Paul later ran with that idea and turned it into "Penny Lane."
We did a Beatles yaatra to Liverpool after the 2019 Cricket World Cup India-Pakistan match in Manchester, and enjoyed our version of the 'holiday bus trip’; visiting The Beatles' childhood homes, Strawberry Fields, and Penny Lane. We caught a live show at The Cavern too, of course. And we weren't the only ones. It was super impressive to see how much the local economy is still driven by The Beatles and Beatles tourism.
The Beatles recorded the piano solo in this song an octave lower AND at half speed because George Martin could not play it fast enough. But Bobby could! Also note the satisfying chord change with the minor fourth after the major fourth resolving to the root (D-> Dm -> A playing under the words" ... life, though some have changed ... "). John uses this again in "Across the Universe"; another example of The Beatles introducing new chord progressions to the very "standard" core of rock music at the time.