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In My Life

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"In My Life"
Song by The Beatles
Album Rubber Soul
Released 3 December 1965
Recorded 18 October 1965
EMI Studios, London
Genre Baroque popTemplate:Sfn
Length 2:28
Label Parlophone
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Rubber Soul track listing
Music sample
I think 'In My Life' was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously about my life, and it was sparked by a remark a journalist and writer in England made after In His Own Write came out. I think 'In My Life' was after In His Own Write .... But he said to me, 'Why don't you put some of the way you write in the book, as it were, in the songs? Or why don't you put something about your childhood into the songs?' ...

We were just writing songs a la Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, pop songs with no more thought to them than that, to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant. ...

'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember. I wrote it all down 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. I cannot do this! I cannot do this! But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Now Paul helped with 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.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, p.129-30, 1980

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. ... I think on “Norwegian Wood” and “In My Life” Paul helped with the middle eight, to give credit where it’s due.

—John Lennon, Rolling Stone interview, by Jann Wenner, 1971

John was always on the run, running for his life. He was married; whereas none of my songs would have 'catch you with another man.' It was never a concern of mine, at all, because I had a girlfriend and I would go with other girls, it was a perfectly open relationship so I wasn't as worried about that as John was. A bit of a macho song. It was largely John's.

—Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, p.279, 1994

I think I wrote the tune to that; that's the one we slightly dispute. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune. I remember he had the words, like a poem--sort of about faces he remember. . . . I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Mellotron he had, writing the tune. Which was Miracles inspired, as I remember. In fact, a lot of stuff was then.

—Paul McCartney, Playboy interview, 1984

The remainder of the afternoon was spent recording another marvellous new Lennon song, the autobiographical 'In My Life'. After a period of rehearsal, three takes were put down, two of which were complete. The 'best' was take three, with John's lead vocal underscored by Paul, and with lead guitar, tambourine and drums as the rhythm. At this point the middle eight of the song was left open since the Beatles had yet to decide how best to use it. The hole was plugged with an imaginative overdub recorded on 22 October. ...

First task of [22 October] was to superimpose an instrumental break onto the previously recorded 'In My Life.' But using which instrument? One of the keyboard types certainly, with George Martin playing. The tape box reveals that he originally tried a Hammond organ. Not right. Then he decided on a piano, though there was a problem in playing the type of solo he wanted, baroque style, at the right tempo. The solution was to play at half the speed and then play back the tape at double-speed. It worked, the song was complete, and it went on to become one of the Beatles' most respected pieces of work.

—Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions, p.64-65, 1988

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