Thursday, March 02, 2006

In My Life

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.6) and McCartney (.4)
LENNON: "I think 'In My Life' was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously about my life. . . .
" 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house on 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place that I could remember. And it was ridiculous. This is before even 'Penny Lane' was written and I had Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Tram Sheds - Tram Sheds are the depot just outside of Penny Lane - and it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holiday's Bus Trip' song and it wasn't working at all. . . .
"But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. . . . I'd struggled for days and hours trying to write clever lyrics. Then I gave up and 'In My Life' came to me." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

LENNON: "Me [I wrote this]. I think I was trying to write about Penny Lane when I wrote it. It was about places I remembered. A nice song." Hit Parader (April 1972)

LENNON: "I wrote that in Kenwood. I used to write upstairs where I had about ten Brunell tape recorders all linked up, I still have them, I'd mastered them over the period of a year or two - I could never make a rock and roll record but I could make some far out stuff on it. I wrote it upstairs, that was one where I wrote the lyrics first and then sang it. That was usually the case with things like 'In My Life' and 'Universe' and some of the ones that stand out a bit." Beatles in Their Own Words

McCARTNEY: ". . . That's the one we slightly dispute. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune." Playboy (December 1984)

McCARTNEY: "I find it very gratifying that out of everything we wrote, we only appear to disagree over two songs [In My Life and Eleanor Rigby]." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

LENNON: "Paul helped me write the middle-eight melody. The whole lyrics were already written before Paul had even heard it. In 'In My Life,' his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle-eight itself." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

McCARTNEY: "I'll give you my memories of writing 'In My Life'. I arrived at John's house for a writing session and he had the very nice opening stanzas of the song. As many of our songs were, it was the first pangs of nostalgia for Liverpool; not that we longed to return there but, like everyone, you look at your youth, as Maharishi used to say, through a golden glass, and it looks much better than it was. 'Remember those times when we used to walk with guitars and strum at night?' and they were good but they sound much better in retrospect, it was just walking along the street with a guitar. Once the Beatles had happened, us two little waifs walking along strumming quite openly on the street suddenly becomes a romantic legend, something they would definitely not miss in a film. That was what John had. But as I recall, he didn't have a tune to it, and my recollection, I think, is at variance with John's. I said, 'Well, you haven't got a tune, let me just go and work on it.' And I went down to the half-landing, where John had a Mellotron, and I sat there and put together a tune based in my mind on Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Songs like 'You've Really Got A Hold On Me' and 'Tears Of A Clown' had really been a big influence. You refer back to something you've loved and try to take the spirit of that and write something new. So I recall writing the whole melody. And it actually does sound very like me, if you analyse it. I was obviously working to lyrics. The melody's structure is very me. So my recollection is saying to John, 'Just go and have a cup of tea or something. Let me be with this for ten minutes on my own and I'll do it.' And with the inspiration of Smokey and the Miracles, I tried to keep it melodic but a bit bluesy, with the minors and little harmonies, and then my recollection is going back up into the room and saying, 'Got it, great! Good tune, I think. What d'you think?' John said, 'Nice,' and we continued working with it from then, using that melody and filling out the rest of the verses. As usual, for these co-written things, he often just had the first verse, which was always enough: it was the direction, it was the signpost and it was the inspiration for the whole song. I hate the word but it was the template. We wrote it, and in my memory we tagged on the introduction, which I think I thought up. I was imagining the intro of a Miracles record, and to my mind the phrases on guitar are very much Smokey and the Miracles. So it was John's original inspiration, I think my melody, I think my guitar riff. I don't want to be categorical about this. But that's my recollection. We then finished it off and it was a fine song which John sang." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

The lines about living and dead friends were written primarily for Stu Sutcliffe, a dear friend of Lennon's and former Beatles bass player who died April 10, 1962, and Lennon's other longtime friend Pete Shotton. John Lennon: In My Life

October 18, 1965, at Abbey Road, with the instrumental break overdubbed October 22
A gap was left in the original recording for an unspecified solo. While the Beatles were out of the studio, George Martin decided to experiment with filling it with an Elizabethan-style keyboard sound. He wasn't able to play the solo fast enough, but played it at half-speed and then sped up the tape to achieve the same result. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970

McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
LENNON: lead vocal (double-tracked)
HARRISON: lead guitar
STARR: drums

This was one of Harrison's favourite Lennon-McCartney compositions, but he caused a furor by rearranging the music and some of the lyrics when he performed this in concert in late 1974. He changed the line "In my life I love you more" to "In my life I love him more."
Britain's only elevated railway still ran from Seaforth Sands to Dingle Station; a trip on the 'overhhead' was a favourite treat for young boys until it was demolished on the last day of 1956. It featured in John Lennon's original lyrics for 'In My Life' and was so well built that the company commissioned to knock it down went bankrupt trying. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

LENNON: ". . . It was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throwaway. And that was the first time I consciously put [the] literary part of myself into the lyric." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

IAN MacDONALD, musicologist: "Its angular verticality, spanning an entire octave in typically wide - and difficult - leaps, certainly shows more of his touch than Lennon's, despite fitting the latter's voice snugly. (As for the middle eight, there isn't one, the song alternating between its verse and an extended chorus.)"

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