‘In My Life’ By John Lennon: His First ‘Major Piece Of Work’ For The Beatles
The Beatles are by far the most influential and popular band in all of history. But, you can see their evolution as they made their music. Their initial work gave them unimaginable stardom and popularity, but their later albums turned them into proper musicians. Moreover, the album that screams of that remarkable transition was Rubber Soul. And the song that stands out is John Lennon’s “In My Life”
How Rubber Soul changed the Beatles
Before this album, the Beatles were considered a boy band. This is an image that the fab four have still not shuddered, and it annoys a lot of their fans. But, they had an inkling to become a serious rock band. But, that decision came at a cost for John and the Beatles.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison were never to be seen wearing matching outfits again. Moreover, the witty answers to the journalists also stopped. But that’s not all. The Beatles were now seriously giving thought to their songwriting. And that was the true strength of John Lennon.
As a result, the Beatles truly began to flourish. And John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s partnership gave them a dimension unheard of for any band. But, the song that began this trend was none other than ‘In My Life’.
How John Lennon wrote ‘In My Life’
As the title of the song suggests, John Lennon wrote ‘In My Life’ based on his own life. This was a concept unheard of back in the days, as rock n roll singers rarely brought their personal lives into their work. But, Lennon and the Beatles changed that. John Lennon said in one of his last interviews:
It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life:
John then proceeded to sing the first two verses of the song:
There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed…
Moreover, Lennon explained how his early songs were merely cliched love songs, with no particular meaning:
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.
But, John and Paul changed it all with ‘In My Life’, as it became the most iconic song of this amazing album. It started with the journey from his house to all the places he could recall, but that sounded boring, didn’t it? So, Paul helped him with it:
‘In My Life’ started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning all the places I could recall. I wrote it all down and it was boring. So I forgot about it and laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about friends and lovers of the past. Paul helped with the middle-eight.
And with Paul’s help, John Lennon was able to pull off a masterpiece. However, Paul believes that he had a greater say in it than just the middle-eight.
McCartney believes he had a greater contribution to ‘In My Life’
Despite John’s claims, Paul McCartney believes that John might have forgotten some of his contributions to the song. He said in an interview in 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.
Despite these minor disputes, to this day, it is one of the most beloved songs made by the Beatles. It also featured in the Beatles’ tribute film Yesterday. And John Lennon wasn’t shy in admitting how amazing it was and considers it his ‘major piece of work’:
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.
And this is how one of the finest songs ever written by the Beatles and John Lennon came into being. It’s a shame that by the end, Paul and John couldn’t reignite the magic again, as things went sour. But, the world is thankful for what the Beatles have left us with.