Beatles – In My Life

What other band in the world would not release this song as a single? That alone shows that they had quality as well as quantity. It was on Rubber Soul released in 1965. I always considered Revolver and Rubber Soul sister and brother albums. Rubber Soul was released first and Revolver could have been the continuation of Rubber Soul or the wilder older brother/sister.

This song is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. We have a short journey through John Lennon’s life up to that point. This song is as close to perfection as you can get.

Lennon said that a reporter asked him ” why don’t you put some of the way you write in the book in the songs?’ or ‘Why don’t you put something about your childhood into the songs?” and that spurred him on to write this personal song.

Pete Pete Shotton, who was a close childhood friend of John, has related how John once told him that the lyric about the friends who were “dead” and “living” was about Stuart Sutcliffe, a close friend and former Beatle who died of a brain tumor in April of 1962, and Pete himself as the “living” friend.

John was picky with Beatle songs. There were some he claimed not to like but this one was one of the songs he was most proud of.

Before his death, Lennon gave an extensive interview with Playboy magazine and the interviewer went down a list of Lennon and McCartney songs. Lennon gave his feelings about each song and who wrote what. McCartney, later on, agreed with most of all John’s memories on who wrote what…except on a couple of songs. John and Paul seem to disagree on two songs in particular: “Eleanor Rigby” and this song.

John claims he wrote everything except the middle eight, which he attributed to Paul. Paul has said that he wrote most of the melody and helped with the lyrics. I tend to believe Paul on this but I’m amazed that they both seemed to agree on most of the other songs. John could write some beautiful melodies but this one sounds like Paul had a lot to do with it.

In the studio, something seemed to be missing so George Martin slowed down the tape and recorded an Elizabethan piano solo. Not that Ringo Starr needs any defending…but people seem to downgrade him because he wasn’t like Keith Moon or John Bonham. No Ringo played for the song…this song is a great example. If he would have been busy it would have ruined it. Ringo played this one perfectly as he did with most other Beatles songs.

This was voted the best song of all time by a panel of songwriters in a 2000 Mojo magazine poll.

Paul McCartney on writing the song: “So I recall writing the whole melody. And it actually does sound very like me, if you analyze it. I was obviously working to (John’s) lyrics. The melody’s structure is very me. So my recollection is saying to John, ‘Just go and have a cup of tea or something. Let me be with this for ten minutes on my own and I’ll do it.’ And with the inspiration of Smokey and The Miracles, I tried to keep it melodic but a bit bluesy, with the minors and little harmonies, and then my recollection is going back up into the room and saying, ‘Got it, great! Good tune, I think. What d’you think?’ John said, ‘Nice,’ and we continued working with it from then, using that melody and filling out the rest of the verses. As usual, for these co-written things, he often just had the first verse, which was always enough: it was the direction, it was the signpost and it was the inspiration for the whole song. I hate the word but it was the template.”

“We wrote it, and in my memory we tagged on the introduction, which I think I thought up. I was imaging the intro of a Miracles record, and to my mind the phrases on guitar are very much Smokey and The Miracles. So it was John’s original inspiration, I think my melody, I think my guitar riff. I don’t want to be categorical about this. But that’s my recollection. We then finished it off and it was a fine song which John sang.”

John Lennon: “’In My Life’ was, I think, my first real, major piece of work. Up until then it had all been glib and throw-away. I had one mind that wrote books and another that churned out things about ‘I love you’ and ‘you love me,’ because that’s how Paul and I did it…It was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously, about my life…a remembrance of friends and lovers of the past.”

John Lennon:  “I wrote that in Kenwood (his home at the time). I used to write upstairs where I had about ten Brunell tape recorders all linked up, I still have them, I’d mastered them over the period of a year or two – I could never make a rock and roll record but I could make some far out stuff on it. I wrote it upstairs, that was one where I wrote the lyrics first and then sang it.” He added that was usually the case with songs such as this one and “Across the Universe” and “some of the ones that stand out a bit.”

In My Life

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

27 thoughts on “Beatles – In My Life”

  1. It’s one of their best. With The Beatles their range creative spirit is wide. This is truly one of their most intimate songs. It’s a timeless, poignant, existential masterpiece. I can’t believe you never posted this one either!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. No question , it’s a great one and one of their best. It also seems to be a song in their catalog that’s kind of rising in general esteem…not that it was ever poo-pooed but it wasn’t mentioned in their canon of ‘greats’ when I was young, now many would put it in their top 5 or 6. There’s a topic to look at – best Beatles songs never released as a single.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. it really speaks to their greatness that you could easily put together a 10, 11 song of songs of theirs everyone knows and that were great that were never singles… and it would probably be better than any ‘best of’ by other 60s bands.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely record and also very sad. It was never a UK single and my first memory hearing it was a nice cover version by Twiggy on TV. The Playboy interview was during the estranged period i think so id be more inclined to go with pauls version of events or maybe the melody was a joint effort and they were both ‘experimenting’ at the time… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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