|"In My Life"|
Cover of the Northern Songs sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Rubber Soul|
|Released||3 December 1965|
|Recorded||18 & 22 October 1965|
"In My Life" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1965 album Rubber Soul. It was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who later disagreed over the extent of their respective contributions to the song. Lennon credited the harmony and bridge to McCartney, while McCartney claimed the entire musical structure. George Martin contributed the piano solo bridge, which was sped up to sound like a harpsichord.
According to Lennon, "In My Life" was his "first real major piece of work" because it was the first time he penned personal lyrics about his own life. The original version of the lyrics was based on a bus route he used to take in Liverpool, naming various sites seen along the way, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Lennon discarded this lyrical idea in favour of a more generalized meditation on his past. He and McCartney later revisited those original references with their respective songs "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane".
"In My Life" inspired more pop music producers to use harpsichords in their arrangements. Rolling Stone magazine ranked "In My Life" number 23 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", as well as fifth on their list of the Beatles' "100 Greatest Songs". The song placed second on CBC's 50 Tracks. Mojo magazine named it the best song of all time in 2000. According to Acclaimed Music, it is the 160th most celebrated song in popular music history.
In a 1980 interview, Lennon referred to this song as his "first real major piece of work" because it was the first time he penned personal lyrics about his own life. According to Lennon, the song's origins can be traced to when the English journalist Kenneth Allsop made a remark that Lennon should write songs about his childhood. Afterwards, Lennon wrote a song in the form of a long poem reminiscing on his childhood years. The original version of the lyrics was based on a bus route he used to take in Liverpool, naming various sites seen along the way, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.
Lennon later thought the original lyrics were "ridiculous", calling it "the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holidays Bus Trip' song". He reworked the words and replaced the specific memories with a generalized meditation on his past. "Very few lines" of the original version remained in the finished song. According to Lennon's friend and biographer Peter Shotton, the lines "Some [friends] are dead and some are living/In my life I've loved them all" referred to Stuart Sutcliffe (who died in 1962) and to Shotton.
Regarding composition of the music, Lennon's and McCartney's recollections differ. Referring to McCartney, Lennon said "his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle-eight itself." In 1977, when shown a list of songs Lennon claimed writing on for the magazine Hit Parader, the only entry McCartney disputed was "In My Life". McCartney said he set Lennon's lyrics to music from beginning to end, taking inspiration for the melody from songs by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. In 1976, he commented: "I liked 'In My Life'. Those were words that John wrote, and I wrote the tune to it. That was a great one."
A 2018 study that used bag-of-words modelling, conducted by artificial intelligence researchers at Harvard University, reported that there was a .018% probability of McCartney writing the entire song. Lennon was given an 81.1% certainty of writing the verses, while McCartney was given a 43.6% certainty of writing the bridge. The analysts stated:
[There's] a large amount of uncertainty about the latter. [...] The bridge having a probability that McCartney wrote the song closer to 0.5 may be indicative of their collaborative nature, as suggested by Lennon, of this part of the song. [...] [The melody] may in fact have been written by McCartney who stated he composed the song in the style of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, but actually wrote in the style of Lennon, whether consciously or subconsciously.
The song was recorded on 18 October 1965, and was complete except for the instrumental bridge. At that time, Lennon had not decided what instrument to use, but he subsequently asked George Martin to play a piano solo, suggesting "something Baroque-sounding". Martin wrote a Bach-influenced piece that he found he could not play at the song's tempo. On 22 October, the solo was recorded with the tape running at half speed, so when played back at normal pace the piano was twice as fast and an octave higher, solving the performance challenge and also giving the solo a unique timbre, reminiscent of a harpsichord.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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