The Beatles demonstrated a significant spike in maturity by the time they began to write songs for their sixth record, Rubber Soul. This revealed itself in the way they recorded the album, deliberately meant to be an artistic statement and not just as a memento of their live act. Their new maturity also revealed itself in the arrangements of the songs, incorporating new instruments and the influences of music from other cultures, too. It certainly comes out in the vocal arrangements that are gloriously layered in a way that, as great as the harmonies always were on Beatles records, reaches a sonic zenith here with the best singing of their career as a band to date.
Possibly the most striking sign that the Beatles had truly come into their maturity as a band, a recording entity, and as individuals is the songwriting. There are love songs on this record as expected. But, they aren’t just the paeans to puppy love as they were on “Thank You Girl” or “From Me To You” from two years previous. As Moe Berg from Canadian band The Pursuit of Happiness once said: “I don’t write songs about girls anymore. I have to write songs about women“. That’s where the Beatles were at by Rubber Soul; they were adults now. So, here on this set of songs love is far more complex, often provoking as much ire and insecurity as it does warm feelings of affection. At times, it gets pretty dark and overtly so, where in the past those feelings of anger and resentment were less obvious behind a pure pop sheen. Basically, Rubber Soul is the first of their records aimed at grown-ups, or soon to be grown ups, and not specifically at teenagers screaming from the stands.
To discuss some of these themes in this episode of the podcast, my good friend Graeme Burk and I am joined by NPR Books editor Petra Mayer to talk about these very themes, and other bits and pieces to do with The Beatles sixth UK record. Speaking of teenagers screaming from the stands, we also talk about an historic performance not just in Beatles history but in all history; The Beatles at Shea Stadium.