Music Throwback Saturday: Rubber Soul songs

The lyrics bear a surprising resemblance to Charles Lamb’s 18th century poem ‘The old Familiar Faces’

rubbersoulBack to Steve Turner’s “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write,” subtitled “the stories behind every song.” Who inspired the Beatles, who inspired so many others?

This time, we will note songs from the Rubber Soul UK album. It’s difficult to find the Beatles’ recordings, easier to find live versions.

Drive My Car:

The ‘beep beep beep beep yeah’ background vocal may have also have been a nod to ‘Beep Beep‘ by the Playmates (1958) …The bass line was patterned after Donald ‘Duck” Dunn’s playing on Otis Redding’s ‘Respect‘ (1965).

Beep Beep was one of the singles my dad owned. I played it regularly and, for a time, knew all the words.

You Won’t See Me

It was written as a two-note progression and Paul had the Motown sound in mind, particularly the melodic bass line of James Jamerson, the legendary studio musician. Ian MacDonald… suggests that the model… might have been ‘It’s the Same Old Song‘ by The Four Tops.

I was wondering why this is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs. It lives on a Motown bass line.


John suggested the “I love you’ in the middle section, inspired by Nina Simone’s ‘I Put A Spell On You‘, a hit in Britain during August 1965… Instrumentally, Paul was inspired by the finger-picking style of Chet Atkins as exemplified on ‘Trampoline’ (1961).

There were lots of girls named Michelle in this period. The name was in the Top 10 of girls’ names from 1966 to 1980, including four years at #2.

In My Life:

The lyrics bear a surprising resemblance to Charles Lamb’s 18th century poem ‘The old Familiar Faces’… “The tune, if I remember rightly, was inspired by the Miracles.” He was almost certainly referring to ‘You Really Got a Hold On Me‘.

The Beatles, of course, covered You Really Got a Hold On Me, but I never related it to In My Life at all.

If I Needed Someone:

The tune had been inspired by two Byrds tracks, ‘The Bells of Rhymey (August 1965) and ‘She Don’t Care About Time‘ (October 1965).

The Byrds were inspired by watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964, as were countless musicians.

Run for Your Life:

John developed it from the line ‘I’d rather see you dead little girl than see you with another man’, which occurred towards the end of Elvis Presley’s 1955 Sun single ‘Baby, Let’s Play House‘. Arthur Gunter in turn had based his song on a 1951 hit by Eddy Arnold, ‘I Want To Play House with You‘.

John didn’t much like this song, and it’s among my least favorites as well.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Music Throwback Saturday: Rubber Soul songs”

  1. Growing up listening to rock and roll I had no sense of musical history, and didn’t have any idea how derivative most of it was. Even The Beatles. I seriously thought the vast majority of it was totally original. I even went so far as to despise any rock that I knew to be remakes of older music. Today of course the whole of recorded popular music is available for anyone to peruse, so there are no more secrets.

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