The Beatles – The Making Of “Rubber Soul”

 

I could not find The Making of Help! so i am skipping it. We proceed in order to the sixth studio album, which is Rubber Soul. My uncle in the States just sent me yesterday a Beatles-related survey to find out, which is the Beatles song that best reflects me (well, it’s Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds) and there’s one question there asking me what is my favorite Beatles album. The multiple choice-question has four albums to choose from and I picked Rubber Soul/Revolver. That’s my Beatles period!

 

Published on Aug 29, 2013

“Rubber Soul”, the sixth studio album by the Beatles, was released on 3 December 1965. Produced by George Martin, it was recorded in just over four weeks to make the Christmas market. Unlike the five albums that preceded it, this album was recorded during a specific period, the sessions not dashed off in between either tour dates or during filming projects.

“Rubber Soul” is a folk rock album, and also incorporates pop and soul music styles. The album was described as a major artistic achievement, attaining widespread critical and commercial success, with reviewers taking note of the Beatles’ developing musical vision.

“Rubber Soul” was successful commercially and critically, and is often cited as one of the greatest albums in music history. In 2012, “Rubber Soul” was ranked #5 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

Virtually all of the songs for this album were composed immediately after the band’s return to London following their North American tour. The Beatles broadened their sound on this album, with influences drawn from soul music and the contemporary folk-rock of Bob Dylan and The Byrds. The album also saw the Beatles expanding rock and roll’s instrumental resources, most notably on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” through George Harrison’s use of the Indian sitar. He had been introduced to it via the instrumental score for their 1965 film “Help!”. Although The Kinks had incorporated droning guitars to mimic the sitar after a visit to India on “See My Friends”, “Norwegian Wood” is generally credited as sparking off a musical craze for the sound of the novel instrument in the mid-1960s. The song is now acknowledged as one of the cornerstones of what is now usually called “world music” and it was a major landmark in the trend towards incorporating non-Western musical influences into Western popular music. Harrison would eventually be transfixed by all things Indian, taking sitar lessons from renowned Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.

French-like guitar lines on “Michelle” and Greek-influenced ones on “Girl”, fuzz bass on “Think for Yourself,” and a piano made to sound like a baroque harpsichord on the instrumental bridge of “In My Life” added to the exotic brushstrokes to the album. Ringo Starr had frequently augmented Beatles tracks with standard percussion instruments such as maracas or tambourine, but on the track “I’m Looking Through You” unusually used taps on a matchbook, perhaps influenced by a similar trick as done by Gene Krupa in the 1941 film “Ball of Fire”.

Lyrically, the album was a major progression. Though a smattering of earlier Beatles songs had expressed romantic doubt and negativity, the songs on “Rubber Soul” represented a pronounced development in sophistication, thoughtfulness and ambiguity. In particular, the relationships between the sexes moved from simpler boy-girl love songs to more nuanced and negative portrayals. “Norwegian Wood” sketches a failed relationship between the singer and a mysterious girl, where she goes to bed and he sleeps in the bath. “Drive My Car” serves as a satirical piece of sexism, and songs like “I’m Looking Through You”, “You Won’t See Me”, and “Girl” express more emotionally complex, bitter and downbeat portrayals of romance. John Lennon’s “In My Life” depicts nostalgic reverie for younger days, while “Nowhere Man” and Harrison’s “Think for Yourself” explored subject matter that had nothing to do with romance at all.

Recording commenced on 18 October with final production and mix down taking place on 15 November. The song “Wait” was dusted off after initially being recorded for but rejected from Help!. “We Can Work It Out” and “Day Tripper” were recorded during these sessions, but the band chose to leave them off the album, releasing them instead as their first double A-sided single.

To achieve the mimicry of a harpsichord by the piano on “In My Life”, George Martin played the piano with the tape running at half-speed. When played back at normal speed during the mixdown, the sped-up sound gave the illusion of a harpsichord. Processing used included heavily compressed and equalised piano sound on “The Word,” an effect soon extremely popular in the genre of psychedelic music.

Rubber Soul was the group’s first release not to feature their name on the cover, an uncommon tactic in 1965. The distinctive lettering was created by Charles Front (father of actor Rebecca Front), and the original artwork was later auctioned at Bonhams, accompanied by an authenticating letter from Robert Freeman.

Paul McCartney conceived the album’s title after overhearing a musician’s description of Mick Jagger’s singing style as “plastic soul”. Lennon confirmed this in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, stating, “That was Paul’s title, meaning English soul. Just a pun.” McCartney uses a similar phrase, “plastic soul, man, plastic soul…,” heard at the end of “I’m Down” as released on Anthology 2.

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