Saturday, September 5, 2009

LP Love: Rubber Soul

As I'm out of the country until September 15, my normal song-a-day listening schedule is being put on hold. Instead, rediscover your love for the LP format by enjoying a complete Beatles album per day. Try to keep your finger away from the "shuffle" or "skip" buttons for the ultimate retro experience! See you in September to wrap up the Beatles' catalog song by song, remastered-style.

Rubber Soul

Release Date: December 3, 1965

Rubber Soul is the album that probably really begins to change everything for the Beatles, at least if we look at it historically. Before Rubber Soul, we had amazing, amazing pop songs, but they were still heard as "just" pop songs. It was in this album that the Beatles began to convince the world that pop music could also be art music. Surely, they took some influence from what was going on around them, including Bob Dylan and various trends in folk rock. (The American version of Rubber Soul wipes the album free of anything that's not folk rock-ish, in fact, which is annoying and shows how short-sighted the Capitol execs were.) It's also, I think, noteworthy that this is likely the first Beatles album that sounds so cohesive. Although the band always put thought into the songs on the albums and what order they ran in, Rubber Soul is an album that you really want to sit and listen to in its entirety. It has a feel all its own, and listening to the whole thing is just super rewarding.

Just take a look at all the ways in which the Beatles are sending their sound skyrocketing into the future. George is really coming into his own, with his best original song yet in "If I Needed Someone" as well as his sitar part on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," both of which are portents of greater things to come for him. Songs like "Girl," "I'm Looking Through You," and "Norwegian Wood" all examine complicated relationships in a more adult way than songs that have come before, even as countercultural language is being adopted for the first time in songs like "The Word" and "Nowhere Man." We're also, in case it bears mentioning, back to all original songs-- and with only minor exceptions, there will be no more covers for the rest of the Beatles' career. By now, no one can touch John and Paul as songwriters, and George is pretty damned good too. There's no denying the growth here in the songwriting and the lyrics. (In the next album, we'll hear the growth in the arrangements, as well.)

High Points: "Drive My Car," "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," "Nowhere Man," "If I Needed Someone," "In My Life"

My Secret Favorite: "Girl"

The Song I'm Not Supposed to Love So Much But Totally Do Anyway: "You Won't See Me"

(The Song I'm Supposed to Love But Totally Don't: "Michelle")

Track Listing:


"In My Life"
"Run for Your Life"


  1. For me, the high points are: Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood, You Won't See Me, I'm Looking Through You, In My Life, and Wait.

    The song I'm supposed to love but don't: Nowhere Man

    I didn't realize I was supposed to love Michelle, and I don't. I also don't like "Girl." The breathing thing John does just grates.

  2. Rare vote here for Run for Your Life.

  3. Been out of town, arriving late to this post. Still, I gotta add something. I love the breathing "affect" on Girl. Tops for me: Run For Your Life, I'm Looking Thru You, Wait, Norwegian Wood, You Won't See Me, Michelle .... Oh, heck, wait a minute, I'm naming the whole darn album!