Rubber Soul holds a special place in my Beatles iconography as it is the first album I bought at the time it came out. Actually I got lucky, we were in Germany and a lots of goods were tax free. That immediately cut the price by 25% but we were also allowed on to Allied bases and just 20 miles from Hamm was Soest and the legendary Canadian Army PX. Just like today, and all times in between, albums were cheaper in North America, so you could get an album then for around a £1, about 60% of what we would normally pay. However this also meant that you were at the vagaries of whatever was fashionable in Canada, which fortunately at that time, like the rest of the world, did include the Beatles.
I’ve commented previously on how every Beatles album had a track that sounded like an unreleased single. This time they were legion, indicating the quality of their writing, playing and collaborations in the studio.
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys commented to his wife at the time that every track was a classic and then went off and wrote Pet Sounds as a riposte, despite Mike Love’s effort to stop him. Our own teenage response to Rubber Soul was an endless debate about what the best track was. Michelle, Girl and Norwegian Wood gained early support back in 1965.
I was 15 when I first heard Rubber Soul, trapped in Boarding School, abandoned in my little German enclave, and without access to Top of The Pops just before Pirate Radio rescued us when it seemed to colonise all of Europe in 1966. For me personally it was 1962 all over again.
With Rubber Soul The Beatles moved from cultural heroes to counter-cultural heroes, almost, like Orson Welles, living their lives backwards. Only their lives were even more remarkable than the Citizen with the mark of Kane, and they didn’t lose any of their booming popularity, beep, beep yeah.
So, as was customary, they gave us a bright and cheerful opening track to hook us in; old pros and consummate entertainers. Drive My Car, driving song; metaphor or opening gambit? Or Both?
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