The Beatles

In My Life

Composed by John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Song Review by

"In My Life" was a creative watershed in the Beatles' songwriting and recording history. Debuted on the Rubber Soul album, sandwiched in between either a brace of folk-rock style numbers (on the U.S. version) or twisting, angular, sometimes soulful harder rock (on the UK version), it was unique in its musical and lyrical sensibilities, and expanded the horizons of both. The song altered the public sensibility not only of what constituted acceptable songwriting in which a rock & roll composer could engage, but also the range of emotions that rock & roll musicians were allowed to express. A John Lennon composition, "In My Life's lyrics were steeped in a mix of innocent nostalgia and an acknowledgement of distance from those emotions. Essentially, it was a song about maturation and accepting the passage of time, and the loss that comes with it, all attributes that were unusual, if notextraordinary, in mid-1960's rock & roll; indeed, overlooking the occasional wistful musings of Brian Wilson in the more personal side of his output with the Beach Boys -- and they were regarded in some circles as "wimps" for some of those early songs, and girlish for having done Pet Sounds (which was not yet out when "In My Life" showed up) -- even the confession of feelings of nostalgia was totally unexpected in the repertory of a rock & roll band in this period. The harmonizing by Lennon and McCartney, among the warmest of their entire history together -- coupled with the fact that Lennon and McCartney had, indeed, shared a large chunk of their boyhoods together, and had made more or less parallel journeys into adulthood and success -- made the record one of the most personal in the group's output, and it helped start John Lennon down a creative road that led to songs such as "Julia" and much of the content of his best post-Beatles recordings. It is also no accident that while songs such as "If I Needed Someone" off the same album were covered by rock & roll bands like the Hollies, "In My Life" as a song became the province of more pop-oriented folkies like Judy Collins, on the beginning of her way to becoming a singer-songwriter. And as an added bonus, the Beatles' original showcased producer George Martin's talent for embellishing the group's music without insinuating himself too prominently into the sound or the song, with a delectable harpsichord solo, itself an unusual attribute in what was supposed to be a rock & roll record.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rubber Soul 1965 EMI Catalogue 2:26
1962-1966 1973 EMI Catalogue 2:27
No Image 1977 Capitol 2:28
No Image 1992 Toshiba EMI
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol
Beatles Story 2001 CTA
The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 2006 Parlophone
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 EMI Catalogue 2:25
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol 2:26
1962-1970 2010 EMI / Parlophone 2:27
The Beatles in Mono [Vinyl Box Set] 2014 Capitol
The Beatles Christmas Pack Emd Int'l
The Beatles: 16 Superhits, Vol. 1 Dorado Records 2:26
blue highlight denotes editor's pick