It was the morning of Monday, September 13, 1965 and the kids in my 2nd grade class in Boston, MA were chirping excitedly about something called "beetles" that they had seen on TV the night before. I honestly didn’t know what they were talking about. Of course, now we could know in retrospect that the night before had been the last of four television appearances on the Ed Sullivan show by those "youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves the Beatles." It wouldn’t be until I was nine years old that I would be in full awe of the Beatles and the world they created for us. The arrival in our house of the Rubber Soul
album ensured that I would forever be steeped in their mystique. It is impossible to convey how much they were a part of our everyday lives unless you were there growing up with them and anticipating with inexplicable excitement any sign of a new song on the radio. Much later we would have The White Album
and it was fantastic. But to me, Rubber Soul
was always the "Brown Album." Apart from the coloring of the font on the album cover and of the brown suede jackets the lads were sporting, its songs were richly evocative of an earthiness, of the soil and trees. From the start, ("I’ve Just Seen A Face") there were acoustic guitars, soft and oily as of the resin from the woody hollow body. "Michelle," "I’m Looking Through You," and "In My Life" carry the sepia tone through as the heart of the album. But the very core of the album, dressed up like a transient and seemingly disaffected, was "Norwegian Wood" – an unassuming song whose power came out of nowhere - broody and with sitar drone, we had not heard of this before. Or more accurately, I had not. I was hooked. My brother and I put down the tennis rackets we were using as faux guitars to play along with our favorite records. We picked up a worn out small-box Gibson, learned how to string our own bead necklaces and even wore Nehru jackets. But that’s yet another album…
is a benchmark album in the Beatles catalog. It marks the end of their early career, as it would be their last album to be supported by a live tour and marks the beginning of their run as the most original and talented recording band in the world. From the punchy bass and layered percussion on the rock and soul opener "Drive My Car" through to the spacey high harmonies and funky guitar interplay on closer "Run For Your Life," Rubber Soul
is ear candy. Each song has a dynamic individual sound. Producer George Martin does a magical job blending so many instruments and influences into a cohesive whole, but it's the creative energy and drive of the band that make it all possible. The maudlin air of "Michelle" somehow fits perfectly next to "What Goes On" and its chicken scratch romp. "Norwegian Wood" with its hypnotic Indian influence sounds only natural on an album featuring the Greek folk revival of "Girl." The thoughtful "Nowhere Man" and "The Word" with its shout out to LOVE, sound personal and universal at the same time. My two favorites are John's sad/sweet "In My Life" with its invocation of things past and George's distorted guitar driven "If I Needed Someone" which hints at the future of psychedelic music. Another classic by a band growing daily.