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Beatles Ultimate Experience: Songwriting & Recording Database: Rubber Soul
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Rubber Soul

Originally released in the UK, December 3, 1965

We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper (UK release: 12/3/65)


GEORGE 1977: "If Paul had written a song, he'd learn all the parts and then come in the studio and say 'Do this.' He'd never give you the opportunity to come out with something. But on 'Drive My Car' I just played the line, which is really like a lick off 'Respect,' you know, the Otis Redding version. And I played the line on the guitar and Paul laid that with me on the bass. We laid that track down like that. We played the lead part later on top of it."

JOHN 1980: "His (Paul's) song, with contributions from me."

PAUL circa-1994: "This is one of the songs where John and I came nearest to having a dry session. The lyrics I brought in were something to do with golden rings, which are always fatal (to songwriting). 'Rings' is fatal anyway, 'rings' always rhymes with things and I knew it was a bad idea. I came in and I said, 'These aren't good lyrics but it's a good tune.' Well, we tried, and John couldn't think of anything, and we tried, and eventually it was, 'Oh let's leave it, let's get off this one.' 'No, no. We can do it, we can do it.' So we had a break... then we came back to it, and somehow it became 'drive-my-car' instead of 'gol-den-rings,' and then it was wonderful-- because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came."


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JOHN 1972: "Me. But Paul helped me on the lyric."

GEORGE 1980: "I had bought, earlier, a crummy sitar in London... and played the 'Norwegian Wood' bit."

JOHN 1980: "'Norwegian Wood' is my song completely. It was about an affair I was having. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair... but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell. But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with."

PAUL 1985: "It was me who decided in 'Norwegian Wood' that the house should burn down... not that it's any big deal."


JOHN 1980: "Paul."

PAUL circa-1994: "Normally I write on guitar and have full chords, or on piano and have full chords, but this was written around two little notes, a very slim phrase-- a two-note progression that I had very high on the first two strings of the guitar... Then I wrote the tune for 'You Won't See Me' against it. It was 100 percent me, but I am always happy to give John a credit because there's always a chance that on the session he might have said, 'That'd be better.'"


JOHN 1980: "I'd spent five hours that morning trying to wite a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down. Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music... the whole damn thing, as I lay down. So letting it go is what the whole game is. You put your finger on it, it slips away, right? You know, you turn the lights on and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them."

PAUL 1984: "That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up. I think at that point in his life, he was a bit wondering where he was going."

PAUL 1988: "I remember we wanted very treble-y guitars-- which they are-- they're among the most treble-y guitars I've ever heard on record. The engineer said, 'Alright, I'll put full treble on it,' and we said, 'That's not enough.' He said, 'But that's all I've got.' And we replied, 'Well, put that through another lot of faders and put full treble up on that. And if that's not enough we'll go through another lot of faders.' They said, 'We don't do that,' and we would say, 'Just try it... if it sounds crappy we'll lose it, but it might just sound good.' You'd then find, 'Oh it worked,' and they were secretly glad because they had been the engineer who put three times the allowed value of treble on a song. I think they were quietly proud of those things."


GEORGE 1980: "'Think For Yourself' must be written about somebody from the sound of it-- but all this time later I don't quite recall who inspired that tune. Probably the government."


JOHN 1980: "'The Word' was written together (with Paul), but it's mainly mine. You read the words, it's all about gettin' smart. It's the marijuana period. It's love. It's a love and peace thing. The word is 'love,' right?"

PAUL circa-1994: "We smoked a bit of pot, then we wrote out a multi-colored lyric sheet, the first time we'd ever done that. We normally didn't smoke when we were working."


JOHN 1966: "Paul has had this idea about writing a bit with some other language, with French in it. And he just sort of had a bit of a verse, and a couple of words, and the idea. I think he had some other name or something. He used to talk Double-Dutch French, you see, just to sing the bit. (imitates singing mock-French) He just brought it along and just sort of started fiddling around trying to get a middle-eight. We pinched a little bit from somewhere and stuck it in the middle-eight, and off we went.

JOHN 1972: "Both of us. I wrote the middle with him."

PAUL 1977: "'Michelle' was like a joke French tune for when you go to a party or something. That's all it was. And then after a while you say, 'Well, that's quite a good tune. Let's put some real words to it.'"

JOHN 1980: "He and I were staying somewhere and he walked in and hummed the first few bars, with the words, and he says, 'Where do I go from here?' I had been listening to (blues singer) Nina Simone. I think it was 'I Put A Spell On You.' There was a line in it that went, 'I love you, I love you.' That's what made me think of the middle-eight for 'Michelle.' So, my contributions to Paul's songs was always to add a little bluesy edge to them. Otherwise, 'Michelle' is a straight ballad, right? He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes."

PAUL 1988: "I'll never forget putting the bass line in 'Michelle' because it was a kind of Bizet thing. It really turned the song around. You could do that with bass. It was very exciting."


RINGO 1966: "I contributed about five words to "What Goes On.' (laughs) And I haven't done a thing since!"

JOHN 1972: "A very early song of mine. Ringo and Paul wrote a new middle-eight together when we recorded it."

JOHN 1980: "That was an early Lennon, written before the Beatles when we were the Quarrymen or something like that. And resurrected with a middle-eight thrown in, probably with Paul's help, to give Ringo a song... and also to use the bits, because I never liked to waste anything."


JOHN 1980: "That's me, writing about this dream girl-- the one that hadn't come yet. It was Yoko."

PAUL circa-1994: "It was John's original idea, but it was very much co-written. I remember writing 'the pain and pleasure,' and 'a man must break his back.' ...It was amusing to see if we could get a naughty word on the record. The Beach Boys had a song out where they'd done 'la la la la' and we loved the innocence of that and wanted to copy it but not use the same phrase. So we were looking around for another phrase-- 'dit dit dit dit,' which we decided to change it in our waggishness to 'tit tit tit tit.' And it gave us a laugh. It was good to get some light relief in the middle of this real big career that we were forging. If we could put in something that was a little bit subversive then we would. George Martin would say, 'Was that dit-dit or tit-tit you were singing?' 'Oh! dit-dit George, but it does sound a bit like that, doesn't it?' Then we'd get in the car and break down laughing."


JOHN 1980: "Paul. He must have had an argument with Jane Asher."

PAUL circa-1994: "As is one's wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things, and a couple of the songs around this period were that kind of thing... I would write it out in a song and then I've got rid of the emotion. I don't hold grudges so that gets rid of that little bit of emotional baggage... I think it's my song totally. I don't remember any of John's assistance."


JOHN 1980: "It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life. (Sings) 'There are places I'll remember/ All my life though some have changed...' Before, we were just writing songs a la Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly -- pop songs with no more thought to them than that. The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember. I wrote it all down and it was ridiculous... it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holiday's Bus Trip' song and it wasn't working at all. But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Paul helped with the middle-eight. It was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throw-away. And that was the first time I consciously put my literary part of myself into the lyric."

PAUL 1984: "I think I wrote the tune to that; that's the one we slightly dispute. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune. I remember he had the words, like a poem... sort of about faces he remembered. I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Mellotron he had, writing the tune... which was Miracles inspired, as I remember. In fact, a lot of stuff was then."


GEORGE 1980: "'If I Needed Someone' is like a million other songs written around a D chord. If you move your finger about you get various little melodies. That guitar line, or variations on it, is found in many a song, and it amazes me that people still find new permutations of the same notes."


JOHN 1980: "It has a line from an old Presley song. 'I'd rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man' is a line from an old blues song that Presley did once. Just sort of a throw-away song of mine that I never thought much of... but it was always a favorite of George's."


JOHN 1980: "Paul did the first half, I did the middle-eight. But you've got Paul writing, 'We can work it out/ We can work it out' real optimistic, you know. And me, impatient, 'Life is very short and there's no time/ for fussing and fighting, my friend.'"

PAUL circa-1994: "I wrote it as more of an up-tempo thing, country and western. I had the basic idea, the title, had a couple of verses... then I took it to John to finish it off and we wrote the middle together, which is nice-- 'Life is very short/ And there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend.' Then it was George Harrison's idea to put the middle into waltz time, like a german waltz... The lyrics might have been personal. It is often a good way to talk to someone or to work your thoughts out. It saves you going to a psychiatrist, you allow yourself to say what you might not say in person."


JOHN 1972: "Me. But I think Paul helped with the verse."

JOHN 1980: "That's mine. Including the guitar lick, the guitar break, and the whole bit. It's just a rock 'n roll song. Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferry boat or somethng. But it was kind of-- you know, you're just a weekend hippie. Get it?"

PAUL circa-1994: "Acid was coming on the scene, and we'd often do these songs about 'the girl who thought she was it.' Mainly the impetus for that used to come from John-- I think John met quite a few girls who thought they were it... But this was just a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was a day tripper, a sunday painter, a sunday driver, somebody who was committed only in part to the idea. Where we saw ourselves as full-time trippers, fully committed drivers, she was just a day tripper. That was a co-written effort-- we were both making it all up but I would give John the main credit."


PAUL 1965: "Sometimes I've got a guitar in my hands, sometimes I'm sitting at a piano. It depends, whatever instrument I'm on, I write with. Everytime it's different."


JOHN 1968: "We got involved completely in ourselves then. I think it was 'Rubber Soul' when we did all our own numbers. Something just happened. We controlled it a bit. Whatever it was we were putting over, we just tried to control it a bit."

JOHN 1971: "We were just getting better, technically and musically, that's all. Finally we took over the studio. In the early days we had to take what we were given-- we didn't know how you can get more bass. We were learning the technique on 'Rubber Soul.' We were more precise about making the album, that's all. And we took over the cover and everything."

GEORGE 1977: "I liked when we got into Rubber Soul... Each album had something good about it and progressed."

PAUL 1988: "We'd started to learn what was involved (in the control room), and it was all so fascinating being allowed to do it. As we got more power they started to let us sit there during a mix. Then you'd say, 'I don't want to interfere, Geoff (Emerick), but push my guitar up!' With two guitarists-- with John and George-- it was always John saying, 'put that up a bit,' and then George would come in and put his up a bit."


- Beatles At The Movies- Roy Carr, 1996
- Beatles Book Monthly
- Beatles Recording Sessions- Mark Lewisohn, 1988
- Beatlesongs- William J. Dowlding, 1989
- Billboard Magazine/Harrison, 1999
- David Frost Interview/McCartney
- Final Testament: 'Unedited' Lennon/Playboy Interviews
- Let It Be- movie/sessions dialog
- Many Years From Now- Barry Miles, 1997
- Playboy Magazine/McCartney
- Press conferences and archived audio interviews
- Rolling Stone Magazine/Lennon
- The Beatles- Hunter Davies
- The Beatles In Their Own Words- Barry Miles 1978