A Year with the Beatles: “Rubber Soul”

Beatles_Rubber SoulWhen I first started my Beatles project, I intended to post about an album on the last Saturday of every month. Obviously, this did not happen, but I seem to be back on track now with Rubber Soul! I think I can say with certainty that this is my favorite album so far; it’s more musically interesting, and the songs’ intellectual content is deeper. But of course, there are still six more albums to go! Here are my thoughts on the individual songs:

“Drive My Car” — Such a great way to start this album! The song is catchy and kind of sexy and sounds like a quintessential rock-‘n’-roll tune — which, of course, it is.

“Norwegian Wood” — Can you believe I’d never heard this song before? I like the 3/4 meter and acoustic accompaniment, both of which have been rare in the Beatles’ oeuvre so far. The song has a somewhat dreamy, melancholy quality that I really like.

“You Won’t See Me” — This song is a bit boring compared to the previous two, but it’s still a solid pop song that sounds very professional and confident.

“Nowhere Man” — I feel like this song is trying to be too philosophical and clever for its own good. At the same time, though, I have to admit that it paints a vivid picture.

“Think for Yourself” — This song seems to be made up of two halves that don’t always quite mesh. I like the minor groove of the “Do what you want to do / Go where you’re going to” sections, but the verses don’t seem to match it.

“The Word” — The Beatles keep saying that “the word is love,” but they’re wrong; the bird’s the word. I do like the unusual harmonies in this song, and I can’t help interpreting the hippie-ish lyrics ironically…sort of a satiric version of “All You Need Is Love.” I’m probably wrong about that, but I can’t help contrasting the two songs anyway!

“Michelle” — I really like this one! For some reason it makes me think of a bizarre circus or carnival setting…something a bit creepy about it, perhaps? But definitely a great love song for those lucky girls named Michelle!

“What Goes On” — Poor Ringo; I just don’t seem to like his songs as much! This one is perfectly pleasant, but it’s just not particularly interesting.

“Girl” –Anyone else think this is an early musical depiction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

“I’m Looking Through You” — Love the dissonance at the end of the chorus, which is such a contrast with normal musical expectations.

“In My Life” — To me, this song is the emotional equivalent of “Yesterday,” almost sugary-sweet in its nostalgia. I’ve heard of people using it as a wedding song, and it’s certainly emotional enough to fit the bill, though a bit sappy for my taste. I do like the Bach-esque keyboard solo in the middle, though!

“Wait” — This song reminds me a lot of the Beatles’ earlier work. It almost sounds like a track from Please Please Me, but it’s a bit more layered and complex; I like the more inventive percussion and harmonies.

“If I Needed Someone” — I like the near-constant syncopation of this song, which gives it a slightly “off” feel.

“Run for Your Life” — I didn’t like this song much, but that’s due to a personal pet peeve of mine: I HATE when male singers refer to their love interests as “little girl.” It’s infantilizing and creepy. Of course, this song is quite creepy overall — a man telling a girl that if she ever cheats on him, he wants her dead. Um, no thank you!

The next album up is Revolver, which I’ll (theoretically) discuss on July 27, so stay tuned!

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