The Paul McCartney Project

In My Life

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Rubber Soul (UK Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1965
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

In My Life” is a song by the Beatles released on the 1965 album Rubber Soul, written mainly by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song originated with Lennon, and while Paul McCartney contributed to the final version, he and Lennon later disagreed over the extent of his contributions (specifically the melody). George Martin, who produced the recording, contributed the instrumental bridge. It is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” as well as fifth on their list of the Beatles’ 100 Greatest Songs. The song placed second on CBC’s 50 Tracks. Mojo magazine named it the best song of all time in 2000.

Composition

According to Lennon, the song’s origins can be traced to when the English journalist Kenneth Allsop made a remark that Lennon should write songs about his childhood. Afterwards, Lennon wrote a song in the form of a long poem reminiscing on his childhood years. The original version of the lyrics was based on a bus route he used to take in Liverpool, naming various sites seen along the way, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Those original lyrics are on display at The British Library.

However, Lennon found it to be “ridiculous“, calling it “the most boring sort of ‘What I Did On My Holidays Bus Trip’ song“; he reworked the words, replacing the specific memories with a generalized meditation on his past. “Very few lines” of the original version remained in the finished song. According to Lennon’s friend and biographer Peter Shotton, the lines “Some [friends] are dead and some are living/In my life I’ve loved them all” referred to Stuart Sutcliffe (who died in 1962) and to Shotton.

In a 1980 interview, Lennon referred to this song as his “first real major piece of work” because it was the first time he penned personal lyrics about his own life.

Regarding authorship of the melody, Lennon’s and McCartney’s recollections differ. Referring to McCartney, Lennon said “his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle-eight itself.” McCartney claimed he set Lennon’s lyrics to music from beginning to end, taking inspiration for the melody from songs by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. “I liked ‘In My Life’. Those were words that John wrote, and I wrote the tune to it. That was a great one.

The piano solo was included in the Love remix of Strawberry Fields Forever.

Recording

The song was recorded on 18 October 1965, and was complete except for the instrumental bridge. At that time, Lennon had not decided what instrument to use, but he subsequently asked George Martin to play a piano solo, suggesting “something Baroque-sounding“. Martin wrote a Bach-influenced piece that he found he could not play at the song’s tempo. On 22 October, the solo was recorded with the tape running at half speed, so when played back at normal pace the piano was twice as fast and an octave higher, solving the performance challenge and also giving the solo a unique timbre, reminiscent of a harpsichord.

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

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…

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…

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’…

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…

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… I find it very gratifying that out of everything we wrote, we only appear to disagree over two songs.

Despite what McCartney said, in July 2018, a research based on statistic science concluded that it’s very unlikely that he contributed to the song:

[…] Mark Glickman, senior lecturer in statistics at Harvard University, and Jason Brown, Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University, created a computer model which broke down Lennon and McCartney songs into 149 different components to determine the musical fingerprints of each songwriter.

And they discovered that, stylistically, there is less than one in 50 chance of Sir Paul having written the music to ‘In My Life.’

“We wondered whether you could use data analysis techniques to try to figure out what was going on in the song to distinguish whether it was by one or the other,” said Dr Glickman.

“The basic idea is to convert a song into a set of different data structures that are amenable for establishing a signature of a song using a quantitative approach. Think of decomposing a colour into its constituent components of red, green and blue with different weights attached.

“The probability that ‘In My Life’ was written by McCartney is .018. Which basically means it’s pretty convincingly a Lennon song. McCartney misremembers.” […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 25 Oct 1965.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 1267 Rubber Soul 1965.
    US: Capitol T 2442 Rubber Soul 1965.
  • [b] stereo 26 Oct 1965.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3075 Rubber Soul 1965, Apple PCSP 717 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
    US: Capitol ST 2442 Rubber Soul 1965, Apple SKBO-3403 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
  • [c] stereo 1987.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46440 2 Rubber Soul 1987, EMI CDP 7 97036 2 The Beatles 1962-1966 1993.

The new CD mix [c] differs from [b] several ways. Both have the lead vocal mixed far right, but a heavy reverb added to [c] is mixed center, sounding almost like a double track vocal. A breath is heard before the vocal starts in [b], the drum is louder in the verses in [b], and a plink in the decay of the guitar, left, at the end of the song is not heard in [c]. The end of the piano solo is faded away slightly better in [c].

Last updated on July 31, 2018

Lyrics

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Officially appears on


Rubber Soul (UK Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:24 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Piano, Producer, Tambourine
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 22, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 25, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Rubber Soul (US Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:27 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Piano, Producer, Tambourine
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 22, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 25, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Rubber Soul (US Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:27 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Piano, Producer, Tambourine
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 22, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 26, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Rubber Soul (UK Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:24 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Piano, Producer, Tambourine
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 22, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 26, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Revolver Sessions

Unofficial album

0:23 • Alternate take • Take 3 Piano Overdub V2 stereo


Rubber Soul - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

1:09 • Alternate take • (Take 3 Partial - Alt Organ Solo V1) (mono)


Rubber Soul - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

1:10 • Alternate take • (Take 3 Partial - Alt Organ Solo V2) (mono) (Entomology)


Rubber Soul - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

0:20 • Alternate take • (Take 3 Partial - Piano Overdub V1) (mono)


Rubber Soul - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

0:22 • Alternate take • (Take 3 Partial - Piano Overdub V2) (stereo) (Moggs)


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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Study Says Paul McCartney ‘Misremembers’ Writing ‘In My Life’ Music | Q94 3 months ago

[…] I recall, he didn’t have a tune to it,” McCartney told Miles. “I said, ‘Well, you haven’t got a tune, let me just go and work on it.’ And I went […]


Study Says Paul McCartney ‘Misremembers’ Writing ‘In My Life’ | stylemagzin.com 3 months ago

[…] I recall, he didn’t have a tune to it,” McCartney told Miles. “I said, ‘Well, you haven’t got a tune, let me just go and work on it.’ And I went […]


André Gauthier 2 months ago

Sir Paul wrote so many outstanding songs and melodies that I can hardly believe he could be lying over this one, even though John wrote some great ones too. This sounds like a typical Lennon-McCartney's one without the 50/50 spirit.


The PaulMcCartney Project 2 months ago

Hi André - thanks for your comment - I think this study will make fans like you and me talk for a very long time !!! :D