The Rewind Button: Rubber Soul
The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.
Now we come to my favorite Beatles’ album, and I have to figure out a way to explain why it’s my favorite. Won’t you let me get away with just saying it’s great, go listen, then end? I didn’t think so.
Here’s where I start: This is the first Beatles’ album that included no covers and included all four members as composers. When I listen to Rubber Soul, I feel like I’m listening to an album and not a compilation of singles. I feel like there was a real purpose to the overall production.
Another aspect that appeals to me is that it’s a turning point in The Beatles’ career. It’s their turn-the-corner moment. The recordings look to the past and future, sometimes within a single song. For example, take out the sitar in “Norwegian Wood” and you still have a good song, but one that could have fit on previous Beatles’ albums or featured on another artist’s album in that time period. But The Beatles added the sitar, an instrument that is usually classified as a world music instrument.
In 1965, attitudes about the world were changing, people were openly embracing other cultures and experimenting with ways of how to better inhabit this planet. For the world’s most popular band at the time to contribute to that attitude, well, that’s a pretty big deal. They didn’t need to sing political songs; they expressed their views with instrument choices, recording practices, and art direction.
Just look at the album cover and name, for example. The group photo is in focus, but slightly stretched. This aligns with the name Rubber Soul, in that the world and humans are getting pulled. The world is warped, there’s something new afoot.
And consider this new direction for the band: the song “Run for Your Life.” Sure, The Beatles had written sad songs in the past, but never one which expresses outright anger and wishful hurting. This is Rubber Soul‘s last song, and it’s a prescient one knowing what we do now of how the summercruxe of love ended in Altamont.
Because I’m fascinated and drawn to the cruxes in life, that is why Rubber Soul is my favorite Beatles album. It’s a perfectly balanced affair that, in my list, ranks far above Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s.
Please visit these other blogs participating in The Rewind Button project: