21: Rubber Soul (The Beatles)

Album: Rubber Soul
Artist: The Beatles
Year: 1965

1. Drive My Car
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3. You Won’t See Me
4. Nowhere Man
5. Think for Yourself
6. The Word
7. Michelle
8. What Goes On
9. Girl
10. I’m Looking Through You
11. In My Life
12. Wait
13. If I Needed Someone
14. Run for Your Life

After five albums, The Beatles had slowly been getting away from boy-band pop. Most of their pure rock songs were covers, but they had been showing signs of maturity with their writing, with numbers like And I Love Her, Yesterday, and I’ve Just Seen a Face. Whether it was age, practice, or good drugs, it finally all came together for Rubber Soul.

Drive My Car is pop no doubt, and a song that turned me off a bit at first. But Paul’s energy is so infectious that I now I can’t help but sing “Beep beep beep beep, yeah!”  John then follows it up with my favorite Beatles song, Norwegian Wood, a short but powerful tale of sexual frustration and arson. Plus, they bring out the sitar, which is perfect here.

Speaking of frustration, I’m Looking Through You and Run for Your Life are as bitter as you can get. While these songs have been accused of being misogynistic, I’d like to think Paul and John were not monsters and were just exposing and then exaggerating their raw emotions after dealing with difficult personal relationships.

The album isn’t all about anger. In My Life is one of my favorite love songs, simple but endearing. I’m also a fan of Michelle, You Won’t See Me, and Harrison’s Think For Yourself.

Despite four top-tier songs, the album falls a bit for me because the filler is pretty unimpressive. It’s not as mindless as their filler on previous albums, and shows some creativity with their use of various instruments and vocal stylings (e.g. The Word is mostly just one note), but if I never heard Girl, Wait, or What Goes On the rest of my life, that would be just fine.

6 thoughts on “21: Rubber Soul (The Beatles)”

  1. Hey, yes, I finally managed to register with wordpress and can now make comments. I’m not going to comment on the Beatles, though. My favorite version of Drive my Car was done by Humble Pie who were a real bluesy rock band from the early 70s (Peter Frampton was their guitarist but the heart and soul of the group was Steve Marriot and their stuff definitely doesn’t sound like Frampton’s later stuff, which I hated). Their version was not pop.

  2. Okay, so I just happen to read an article today about what misogynistic prick Lennon was in his youth (which he freely admitted to before he died). Run For Your Life probably did accurately reflect his reality. He also wrote Getting Better to indicate his improved ways, but since Yoko has reported she was afraid of him, especially early on, maybe not so much better.

  3. I’m not a big Beatles fan, but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you, I own and love both this album and Revolver. Your colorings on the songs are pretty well spot-on, and “Norwegian Wood” remains one of my favorite songs, ever, by anyone.

    1. Revolverjust missed the countdown, mainly because I really can’t stand Yellow Submarine or Doctor Robert, with Taxman not far behind. And while I don’t dislike it, I still don’t get the massive appeal of Tomorrow Never Knows.

      1. Yeah, those three aren’t much, with Yellow Submarine being particularly offensive to the ear.

        As for Tomorrow Never Knows, I figure it’s a drug thing. I loved it as a smoker and so did most everyone I smoked up with. Now, after 15 years off the stuff, that particular song doesn’t really have any application to me.

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