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Friday, June 20, 2014

Ruminating on Rubber Soul

This morning I listened to the 1965 album Rubber Soul by The Beatles (you may have heard of them). Curious album title, that…

Rubber Soul cover, US stereo edition.

From the vantage point of 2014 it’s easy to take this collection of music as something that seems to have always existed – but it’s more interesting to put it in the perspective of where in the band’s career timeline it was created.

While the songs generally credited to Paul McCartney remain focused on matters romantic – and masterful displays of pop-craft they often are – John Lennon’s words begin to show the first signs of a new direction for the band and a changing attitude for him. “Norwegian Wood” brings a much more adult take on relationship complexities than the cut-and-dry characterizations that inhabited earlier songs. And in “The Word,” when Lennon announced “Now that I know what I feel must be right, I'm here to show everybody the light,” he set a course that he would follow for the rest of his life.

The band recording Rubber Soul.

George Harrison displays a darker lyrical approach as well, noting in “Think for Yourself” that “I left you far behind, the ruins of the life that you have in mind.”

The shimmering production and spirited performances that abound in Rubber Soul seem like a seamless and logical progression from the album’s predecessor, Help!, arriving quickly on its heels. But the album also offered clues that things were changing. No one could have imagined just how much.

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