Friday, December 8, 2023

"In My Life" by The Beatles

It was 43 years ago today that John Lennon was murdered. I learned the news the following morning, and I cried more over John than any other celebrity except for my dearest Vanessa Marquez. Today then seems a suitable time to post what is not only my favourite John Lennon song, but my favourite Beatles song of all time.

"In My Life" appeared on The Beatles' album Rubber Soul, released on December 3 1965 in the United Kingdom and December 6 1965 in the United States. The song was mostly written by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney contributing either the harmony and the middle-eight (according to John Lennon) or having set John Lennon's lyrics to music (according to Paul McCartney).

Regardless, the song's inspiration stems from a suggestion by English journalist Kenneth Allsop that John Lennon write a song about his childhood. The original lyrics to "In My Life" took the form of a bus journey that John Lennon took from his child hood home at 251 Menlove Avenue in Woolton to Liverpool, with such places as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the tram sheds, and so on named in the lyrics. John Lennon decided the whole thing was ridiculous, describing it as "...the most boring sort of 'What I Did on My Holiday's Bus Trip' song..." John Lennon then gave up writing lyrics about a bus trip and then instead focused on memories of the friends and lovers of his past. These new lyrics may have taken some inspiration from the 18th Century poem by Charles Lamb "The Old Familiar Faces," the final lines of which read, "How some they have died, and some they have left me,/And some are taken from me; all are departed--/All, are gone, the old familiar faces."

I have loved "In My Life" since childhood, and, if anything, my love for it has only grown since I have gotten older. Vanessa also loved the song, and I am not sure that it wasn't her favourite Beatles song. Regardless, I cannot think of the song without thinking of her. John Lennon, who could be critical of his own work, thought highly of the song. He counted it as his "first real major piece of work."

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