Rubber Soul

Adel Gabot

Rubber_Soul

1o:52PM

It’s the 50th anniversary of The Beatles‘ album Rubber Soul, and social media’s going apeshit over it. Some call it the greatest album The Beatles ever made, and some call it the most overrated album of all time, so we’re getting all sorts of feedback/tributes/condemnations.

I have a slightly different take.

I remember first encountering it as a child, when my late Ate Beth, a cousin who lived next door to us, played it constantly for a what seemed like years when it came out almost 50 years ago. I recall wandering into their house and wondering what that racket was coming from their stereo. It was a wonderfully mixed racket, to be sure, but as a precocious kid just getting his first taste of pop music, I wasn’t sure what I was listening to. I could actually hear it all the way back in my room in our house next door, so loudly Ate Beth played it.

Rubber Soul was the album that definitively began the career of The Beatles as a pop icon. It was their benchmark, and all modern pop albums can be dated to pre-Rubber Soul and post-Rubber Soul. It was the first album of theirs that didn’t even have the band’s name on the cover. It was a critical success, and a monster hit in the UK and the US, and set The Beatles on their way to be musical legends.

But truth be told, The Beatles didn’t really make an impact on me, and I was only marginally aware of Paul, John, George and Ringo in the most peripheral way possible.

I would eventually grow up to be an FM radio deejay and become an expert in pop music, but The Beatles would just be a distant and faraway influence on my musical tastes. Later on in life (after my 20-year stint in radio) I would accumulate some of their “Best Of” albums and grow to like and appreciate their music, but I never really listened to Rubber Soul again.

At least until a couple of days ago, when curiosity about all the fuss about a 50-year-old album tweaked my interest, and I downloaded a copy and installed it in iTunes.

Imagine my surprise when I found out I knew almost all the songs on it, and I could actually sing along to them. I must have unconsciously learned all the songs, soaking in all that third-hand listening all those years ago and my formative brain imbibing the songs deep down in the recesses.

Michelle. Norwegian Wood. Nowhere Man. Drive My Car. Girl. In My Life. I’m Looking Through You. You Won’t See Me. Christ, the list goes on. Now, I don’t know if this is the greatest Beatles album made, or the most overrated. All I know is, it’s been the bedrock of my musical tastes all this time, and I didn’t even know it.

So here’s to Rubber Soul, a classic on its 50th anniversary!


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