Best of the Beatles: Rubber Soul

After the voting for Help, we’re moving onto Rubber Soul, thereby officially moving into the “Wait, I’m supposed to pick ONE song? No way!” era of the series. Rubber Soul is often said to be the Beatle’s “folk-rock” album, although there’s also pop and rock thrown in as well.

Fun fact: the name “Rubber Soul” is a bit of a pun. Soul singers would often derisively refer to what Mick Jagger and others sang as “plastic soul” - the Beatles decided to take the term and run with it. The album cover was created when they were looking at a picture being projected, thinking of using it as a cover, and as it was taken off the projector, the image was tilted forward.

If you find it possible to vote, then vote! If it’s too hard, feel free to sit back and discuss (which I might be doing in some later albums coughcoughRevolvercoughcough]).

I almost voted for Nowhere Man. I went with I’m Looking Through You instead. (Steve Earle’s cover of that song helped me appreciate it. I was born in 1969, and missed Beatlemania.)

Another vote for I’m Looking Through You.

I voted for Nowhere Man.

I can’t believe I’m the first to vote for In My Life.

There’s really no other choice.


I agree.

I know, I love “In My Life” and was planning on voting for it, but at the last second chose “I’m Looking Through You”. Something about the mixture of anger and sadness in the lyrics is just so powerful.

Thanks for that. I’d never heard Steve’s cover and it’s terrific!


Really hard to pick one. I ended up with “I’m Looking Through You” for the Hammond Organ.

Their first top to bottom masterpiece, where every song is killer (OK, some will disagree on the Ringo song, but I always tap my feet to it, and it’s not too long …). It’s impossible to pick the best song, but because it had a big impact on my life, and because I don’t think many people will vote for it, I’m sticking up for ‘The Word’.

I never liked the John-written hits, “In My Life” and “Nowhere Man” (“Girl” is a little more interesting than these two, IMHO). In fact, I always thought Rubber Soul was a tad overrated, overall. For this poll, I went with “Norwegian Wood” – a great melody, well executed, which fits the mysterious-without-being-too-out-there lyrics perfectly.

I recently noticed that George’s “Think For Yourself” has a lot in common with the Stones’ “Think”, from the Stones’ album *Aftermath *which was released a few months after Rubber Soul. Both have that fuzz-tone “bass,” both noodle around a bunch of chords in the verse before getting around to the tonic (the “I” chord), and of course the word “Think” in the title.

This is one of several albums where this poll is weird because we can’t vote for the big single which was released (and recorded) at the same time as the (British version of the) album.

In other words, no “We Can Work It Out”! No “Day Tripper”! I’ll wager that quite a few folk would have voted either of these as the best song from the Rubber Soul “project.” (I would have probably gone with “We Can Work It Out,” myself).

The problem will arise again soon, with “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” from the Revolver “project” (but not the album, on either side of the pond). I can think of at least one friend who thinks “Rain” is the best Beatles song, period.

Oh, well, rules are rules. No worries. Thought I’d just point it out (maybe I’m not the first).

I’ve always liked “In My Life”, but I agree with you on “Nowhere Man”. It’s not a terrible song - for me, “Run for Your Life” is the only truly awful one, just because it’s about murder (although I do enjoy “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, so hey) - but something about it has always seemed a bit off.

Another favorite of mine from this album is “Drive My Car”. The lyrics never fail to crack me up (I’ve got no car, and it’s breaking my heart/but I’ve found a driver, and that’s a start). They actually struggled a bit to find words, and almost abandoned the tune, but it worked out in the end.

What I’m planning on doing is, after all the albums are done, is have one or two polls (depending on how many songs there end up being) of all the singles never released on a studio album. The list is actually pretty long - “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “Hey Jude”, “Rain”, etc. It’s harder than I realized to collect them all - right now I think I’ll use the Anthologies as a reference point, but I’m not sure.

Good plan! I have enjoyed being restricted to the canonic albums, though --especially now that we’re getting into the albums that were more or less conceived as whole entities (or, at least, careful attention was paid to order, etc.), rather than mere collections of songs.

This one should have taken me more time to think about, but “In My Life” is one of my favorite Beatles tunes (with “Something” being my favorite), so it wasn’t that difficult a choice.

“Nowhere Man.” Hard choice.

Heard “If I Needed Someone” this morning, hoped I’d remember it when it came up on a poll, and here it is!

“In My Life” is supposedly the one song in the whole Lennon/McCartney catalog where the two disagreed over who wrote it. It seems to me, though, they never completely contradicted each other (John said “Paul may have helped with the melody”, or some such, in the 1980 Playboy interview, while Paul says he composed it by himself on the mellotron, with John writing the lyric).

Anyway, tough choice, but I went with Norwegian Wood. I always liked the “This Bird Has Flown” parenthetical alternative title, just for the silliness.