1001 Albums: Rubber Soul



Artist: The Beatles

Album: Rubber Soul

Year: 1965

Length: 35:50

Genre: Rock Pop/ Folk Rock

“He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

Big things are happening. Not only in this list but in life. Again it seems that the list is paralleling what’s going on in a wave of yet another strange coincidence. This time it’s not as specific and they are similar in much vaguer ways than with some of the past coincidences. But to put it briefly, Rubber Soul was a big milestone in rock history and this week I’ve reached a big milestone in my life.

Let me start with me (because I’m selfish like that). Remember how I was talking about getting ready to move to Toronto? Well, it finally happened. I’ve made the move. As I sit to write this, I am sitting in the basement of my cousin’s house in the big city of Toronto. With my new room, new bed, new city and new life, I begin a new chapter in my life. This is big for me. Mainly because A) It’s the first time I’m living on my own (only having moved out of my parent’s house now) and B) It’s in a completely different city. Cutting the chord, snippety-snip, in one swift motion and throwing myself out there. Jumping head first without a parachute. Monday I start back to school, which I haven’t done in almost two years… so that will be an interesting experience. With this is the added burden of a insurmountable amount of anxiety and pressure thrown onto my shoulders as I try to find a new apartment (so I don’t annoy the shit out of my cousins) and finding a job so I can have a steady flow of income entering instead of always exiting. It’s overwhelming, but I realise everyone goes through this and if everyone has been able to do it… well, I can too (I guess… we will see).

Now to the main attraction: Rubber Soul. The Quartet themselves. The Mother Fucking Beatles.

I know what you’re all thinking, so please… don’t kill me. Let me speak first!

I actually… kinda liked this one… yeah, I did. I’m not joking, not at all. Ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, it didn’t really engage me as much as I would have hoped but I have to say… they’re getting better and better. This was definitely a huge step up from their last album. As a whole they’re maturing and maturing fast. Lyrically they’re delving into much more personal and adult ideas, swinging away from the puppy love goop that I personally hate and tackling relationships with a more mature gaze. These aren’t the strapping young lads we knew before. No, now they’re men. They’ve grown up and it really shows.

It doesn’t stop there, musically they’ve matured quite a bit as well, incorporating much more complex melodies and even including a Sitar in their music (I believe Norwegian Wood was one of (if not the) first western rock song to include the instrument and this album can be hailed as the one to introduce the instrument to western audiences and the rock n roll genre). The sitar is a pretty fucking sweet instrument. Every time I hear it it really puts you in a this weird groove that you can’t help but feel calm. It’s an oddly soothing instrument and if I ever get the chance I’d love to learn it. But alas… I probably won’t… This was also right after the famous meeting with Bob Dylan, where they convinced him to go Electric and he advised them to try harder with their lyrics and write something more meaningful. They must have listened because this is that album.

So here’s where things get interesting. It’s time for me to separate subjectivity and objectivity and look at the album for what it was in history. If I’m going on my impression alone I find it’s really just OK. A solid album all around that has some really strong points (Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man) and some weaker, but still worthwhile moments (Michelle). They’re really trying hard here to create something that will be remembered and they succeeded very well. Of what I understood it was the first album where they got full creative control and you can tell they’re going all out to do the music they really want to create. They’re playing has improved by 200 percent and their three-way harmonies are actually quite beautiful when they hit at the right moment. Here is an album that showed the true talent that they were missing from their previous ones.

Historically, this album seemed to leave a huge dent in rock n roll. It seems every big artist cites this album as a milestone of sorts, a highly influential album they all look back too as being what pushed them to up their games. Brian Wilson says that this album was so damn good to his ears that it influenced him to try and top them (creating the famous feud between The Beach Boys and The Beatles as they constantly tried to one-up each other). Brian Wilson would go on to create Pet Sounds thanks to this album (Which I do think is a much better album, but wouldn’t have existed without this one being made).

A lot of critics also cite this album as being the beginning of albums as a cohesive entity. Before this instance we have encountered a lot of albums that took extra care for each song and even some early examples of concept albums (Heck album #1 on this list was the very first concept album to be conceived). But I can see where these criticisms are coming from. The Beatles were big and everyone was listening to them, compared to some of the other albums which were more well known within the musical world but not to the general population as a whole. Most albums usually put focus on creating singles that would sell the album while the rest would be filled with filler to fluff up the album and make it full. This is (once again debatable but I can see why) the first instance where every song on the album was treated as if it were going to be a hit single. They didn’t care about selling specific songs but selling the album as a whole. There may have been other albums before them that did the same thing, but they were the ones that succeeded in getting everyone to think differently about albums. They were the ones that managed to get other artists to rethink how they create their albums. Others did it before but they were the ones that left a mark and that’s what truly counts here.

I find this album is a nice transitional album when it comes to their discography. It marks the departure from their pop songs and entrance to their more artistic side. This draws the line right in the centre and is a good bridge between both. The album wasn’t my thing, but I finally get it. I finally understand the phenomenon that is known as Beatlemania.

I finally do.

The Mother Fucking Beatles.

Song of Choice: Norwegian Wood



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