The Beatles, Rubber Soul (1965)

ST 2442
Capitol Records
Made in U.S.A.

Forty-seven years ago, The Beatles authored the album that Rolling Stone dubbed 5/500 in the greatest albums of all time. What beat it out for the top four spots? Well. The album Bob Dylan put out that same year (Highway 61 Revisited), the album Brian Wilson wrote in response to this album (Pet Sounds), aaaand the next two albums the Beatles went on to release (Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s). This. Album. Changed. Everything.

That á la carte feel that’s been swinging back into the music industry since the distribution of media turned more toward digital formatting was also present when rock and roll was still establishing its roots on the radio. Then like now, producers/recording companies were concerned with getting in a strong right hook and allowing the rest of the tracks to languish on the ropes. (I’m guessing that might have been due to 45’s being cheaper to produce and easier to sell, but that’s an assumption.)

After five years of non-stop touring, movie-making, and recording in the U.S., The Beatles returned to England and actually spent time trying to compose music with no competition of other obligations. They used the opportunity to establish that these guys weren’t about to fade into obscurity after enjoying pop success with “The British Invasion.” If anything, the best was yet to come. Hanged between the catchy, uptempo boy band hits they’d been peddling and the ground-breaking experimental pieces heard later in the band’s career, Rubber Soul is a solid balance between past and future.

Side One:
FACE * Paul
(This Bird Has Flown) * John
(with Paul – George on sitar)
(with John and
George – Paul on piano;
“Organ” Evans on Hammond)
(with John and Paul – Paul
on fuzz bass)
THE WORD * John, Paul and George
(Paul on piano; George Martin on
(with John and George)

♠Side Two:
*John and Paul

GIRL * John
(with Paul and George)
* Paul
(with John – Ringo
on Hammond organ)
* John and Paul
(George Martin on piano)
*John and Paul
* John (with Paul and George)

Truth is, I could wax poetic for longer than anyone would want to listen about what The Beatles were able to accomplish…or, I could just sum it up with another one of my patented tips on how music can easily go from a thing to which you listen to being a thing that moves your heart and mind – don’t remove yourself; let it be written for youGoing into a music-listening experience with the pretense that it was written to/for/about you or in your voice forces some personal interaction between the people who made it and you. I just think it’s a lot more fun than putting up barriers (and it keeps me from listening to trash like Nicki Minaj, because I am not, in fact, ‘a stupid ho’). The only time this tactic gets really sticky is when a song is attributed to a specific person, such as Michelle. In those cases, I step back and let the song be about a person I know, if I know such a one. Name songs become more or less sacred and specifically set aside for individuals, in my book.

I do know Michelle! It’s her birthday!
Happy Birthday, Michelle, ma belle!

…The Beatles were excellent at writing the most intimate lyrics – but perhaps more enticing, most of what they write is left open such that any one could find him- or herself in the audience, feeling that the words were meant to reach out and include him, her and every one. Were they the best musicians ever? Uh, no – ever heard of Mozart? Were they the greatest role models ever? Probably not. Were they the greatest band of the 20th century? …in a lot of ways…yes. There are certainly haters out there who would vehemently dispute that claim because they broke up, or because they didn’t hone their instrumentation skills far enough, or they didn’t tour often enough, or because those boys were on the marijuana cigarettes. But, I think their contribution to music history speaks for itself once you start delving into their endless recordings. They made it their mission to spread a message of love and tolerance through a turbulent age of societal unrest and upheaval – and they succeeded. To this day, forty-seven years later, I can turn their music on  my stereo record player and feel some of the hardship of being alive slough off. If that isn’t the very definition of transcendent, I would re-write the dictionary that says otherwise.

Produced by George Martin
Photography: Robert Freeman

Capitol Records


One comment

  1. Michelle · · Reply

    Merci beaucoup! : ) I love this album!

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