This is where it starts. When I think about The Beatles, I think about Rubber Soul. I think about the sudden jump in production experiments, the way albums stopped being collections of songs and started becoming albums. The jump from your frolicking boys on Help! to the grown, curious men on Rubber Soul is perhaps the biggest creative leap in the band’s discography. The main thing on everyone’s mind is still women, but I don’t know if a better batch of songs have ever been crafted about the subject, at least as it pertains to the pursuit of said subject from a young, curious man’s perspective.
Taking aside the somewhat generic but groovy opener “Drive My Car” nowhere is Rubber Soul better represented in what I’m talking about than in “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” To me it’s a great role reversal, John in the end realizing he was never the one in control. It’s simultaneously tentative, warm, sad and resigned. So much of the tone and feel is thanks to George doubling the melody on sitar, once again proving how he is the MVP on so many of these records.
Elsewhere we get more of the folk psychedelic groove the band had become both interested and adept in. “You Won’t See Me” is chock full of beautiful harmonies, while “Nowhere Man” shows the band moving full throttle into trippiness. Both “Michelle” and “Girl” bring back memories of different eras of my youth, particularly “Michelle” as it’s tied into stories my wife would tell me of her father singing along in his broken English, miming playing a piano as Paul would croon “Someday monkey won’t play piano…”
All these songs, tied up in my history…