A word or two
about Rubber Soul generally: With the CD releases, Capitol finally
put right the mish mash theyd made of the early UK albums, what
with adding, deleting or just plain pulling songs out of a hat.
(Still, as someone once argued to me, the American albums are usually
considered to be the definitive ones anyway. Well, sure, by
But while the
EMI albums are generally more logical and cohesive compilations, Rubber
Soul is the one example where the Capitol version is arguably superior.
Even though it has two fewer tracks, the addition of Its Only
Love and Ive Just Seen a Face and the deletion
of the more electric songs serve to heighten the acoustic
mood more so than the original.
though, Ive Just Seen a Face is conspicuous by its absence,
since it was such a definitive album starter
to Americans, I know,
I know. Instead, we begin with Drive My Car, which almost
sounds like a throwback to the previous year compared to the rest of Rubber
Souls more sophisticated, Continental feel. So, that said...
You Seen Her Face - The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday; Recorded Nov.
This may not
be the most obvious matchup, but Drive My Car would seem to
be one of the forces at work here. (The CD reissue of Younger Than Yesterday
describes Have You Seen Her Face as Britpop.)
Coming a year later, this song benefits from having that much more of
rocknrolls growing sophistication to draw on; among
other things, Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn were into South African
trumpeter Hugh Masekela by this time.
So while the
melody or chord structure are much more jazz/pop, as opposed to the R&B
of Drive My Car, there is a family resemblance; the 4/4 rhythmic
foundation its all but begging for a cowbell* -- as well
as its twangy lead guitar. Perhaps its not a coincidence that
this was the first Byrds song where McGuinn used a standard 6-string lead
guitar instead of his trademark 12, and it helps bring some
of that Beatle-bluesiness back into the mixture.
On the Younger
Than Yesterday album, Chris Hillman helped to compensate for the departure
of Gene Clark by stepping up to the plate as a songwriter for the first
time. As weve seen, a writers early material is more
prone to reveal its roots; even the titles of Chriss songs from
this album (Have You Seen Her Face; Thoughts And Words;
The Girl With No Name) bear a resemblance to Rubber Soul titles;
I think of this as Have You Seen My Car.
"I've got a fever, and the only prescription...is more cowbell."
Paul Revere & The Raiders
The Spirit of 67; November 1966
of the Paul Revere catalog shows plenty of Beatle lifts, although their
Northwest Sound was certainly All-American. If this
songs lineage isnt immediately obvious, they make it pretty
clear by the time they get to the chorus: But you can drive mine
if you'll sit right here..."
My Fire" The Doors
The Doors; January 1967
pattern of Light My Fires melody is a perfect match
for the chorus of Drive My Car; if you were to slice and dice
and re-edit the two you could make some seamless splices: Come on
baby/drive my car or Baby you can/light my fire.
- Classics IV
Single; Sept. 1967
Think of the
opening guitar chords of Spooky and imagine speeding them
up a little bit; theyre like an abbreviated version of the melody
of Drive My Cars verse. (She said baby, cant
you see...) Classics IV would evolve into the Atlantic Rhythm Section,
whose Imaginary Lover played at 45 RPM was alleged to sound
like Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps theres a varispeed
Time Around - Bob Dylan
Blonde On Blonde; May 16, 1966
This is the song where Bob called John out on the carpet for copping his
shtick with all that folk-rock in the previous year -- seriously freaking
John out, apparently. And its easy to imagine why, given the
obvious musical resemblance here, and the "I never asked for your
crutch, now dont ask for mine" lyric. (Bob would also
take Bruce Springsteen to task some years later, with "Tweeter and
the Monkey Man." Now, if only John were still around to do
the same for, say, Noel Gallagher.)
Wood, this is another conversation between the singer and a woman
/She said...") and it too is bafflingly obtuse.
However, instead of Scandinavian furniture, the imagery here is chewing
gum. And Jamaican Rum. I asked her for some. This rhyme's
Ma Cherie - The Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
Isn't it good, their take on Norwegian Wood. Lazing in the grass
beside a burbling bass. This is in French, so I dont know if its
about furniture or gum or what.
Wont See Me:
Saw The Light - Todd Rundgren
Something/Anything?; February 1972
really require any explanation, its melody is so similar. Some of Todds
Beatles impressions were covert, some overt.
In The Park - Chicago
Chicago V; July 1972
Hide in plain
sight. The intro and verse here has all the key elements: The same piano-based
rhythm, and, if you transpose it into the same key, essentially the same
chord progression (A-B-D-A in You Wont See Me; F#m-B-D-A
in Saturday.) Plus the rhythm guitar stings on the backbeats,
abetted by the occasional trumpet stab; the Paul-like bass bouncing around
way up high, the descending horn line standing in for the Oooooh-la-la-las,
and the quick trumpet run at the end of each section (after "4th
of July") being the rising You won't see me backing vocal
line, done in double time. There is another whole level of jazz elements
to the song (i.e. ignore the whole "Slow Motion Rider" part), but its
built on that solid Beatles foundation. People didnt sample back
then; they did this.
- The Bee Gees
Single; January 1967
a real Coal-where Man. This is a lyric that could only
make sense in some sixties British musical with, say, Stanley Holloway:
The Coalman makes a man feel good when hes down
takes my hand
you can get advice. In reality,
the Coalmans advice would probably have been, Why dontcha
get yer bleedin aircut! Two years in the Armyd do yer
good. Musically, this song has Nowhere Mans
loping rhythm and lively bass, an approximation of its guitar sound and,
of course, there are those Bee(tle) Gees harmonies.
Back Pages - The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday; Recorded Dec.
As a composition
this song doesnt qualify, since it came out in August of 1964 on Another Side of Bob Dylan, but Roger McGuinn's reworking melds
it with the musical style of Nowhere Man. And it passes
the overlap test, by which I mean that if you sing both songs
together theyll mesh (for the first half of the verse here, anyway),
revealing the similarities in the two melodies. Nowhere Man"
was one of Johns more Dylan-esque lyrical concepts, and the Byrds
version of My Back Pages might be the ultimate expression
of McGuinns stated purpose when he formed the band, i.e. to bridge
the gap between Dylan and the Beatles.
One Knows - Badfinger
Wish You Were Here; 1974
This song has
the same easy rocking rhythm of Nowhere Man, but whats
more notable here is that the melody -- a series of triplets -- has the
just same rhythmic pattern as Georges guitar solo.
Last Time - Mr. Encrypto
Hero And Villain; 2001
to allow this. It might be improper to make references to this artist
on this site, but on the other hand, this is perhaps the only instance
where I can state with absolute certainty the artist's intention, which
in this case was an attempt to rewrite the Nowhere Man riff. Then it mutated
into Ticket To Ride...and Mr. Tambourine Man...and California Girls...and
a whole bunch of other things. Maybe I wont mention this one after
all. I wonder if they know that due to the unfreezing process I have no
You Know - The SpongeTones
Beat Music; 1982
Think For Yourselfs distinctive fuzz-bass isnt
here, but we do have the same charging rhythm, similar minor-key chord
changes, George-like group vocals and a chastising lyric. The piano
solo sounds like a nod to another one of Georges,You Like
Me Too Much.
- The Redcoats
Meet The Redcoats...Finally!; Recorded
Maaan in the chorus may be just as much Tax-maaan
as it is Woorrd, and perhaps helps illustrate that Taxman
could be regarded as The Word-redux. But Man
lacks Taxmans bassline, and its high harmonies and anti-war
lyric are definitely from The Word. And when it kind of shifts
gears halfway through the verse its borrowing part of the bassline
from Think For Yourself -- so by virtue of proximity it probably
goes best here.
Again - The Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
bossa nova rhythm, offset beat and high harmonies of "Word."
The Word Go - Chris Stamey
It's Alright; 1987
ex-dB and present-day indie pop producer and songwriter (see www.chrisstamey.com).
For the most part this song resembles the Kinks Stop Your
Sobbing (its wordless vocal bridge), but the title is something
of a clue, as well as the repetition of the extended The woorrd...go
of the chorus.
Smiles - Utopia
Deface The Music; 1980
is based on a deliberate, tick-tock kind of tempo, like a
metronome; an effect accented by Ringos side-stick playing, and
Pauls right-on-the-beats melody. (These-are-words-that-go-to-ge-ther-well.)
Even though All Smiles is piano- instead of guitar-based,
its a pretty definitive rewrite, with that gentle rhythm -- and
because its on Deface The Music in the first place. As we
said, some of Todd Rundgrens references were overt.
BBC Recording; Feb. 1968
The same rhythmic
approach again, the resemblance underlined by the stretched-out phrasing
of the chorus of this song named after another girl of French extraction.
Honeybus were a British band in the Hollies style who only had success
with one song (I Cant Let Maggie Go), but made a number
of singles in the Beatles era. Their anthology is available on Castle/Sanctuary.
- The Direct Hits
Demo Recording; 1986
Hits were another British mod band that sprang up in the wake of neo-Beatlemania
in the 1980s. This alternate take of the song that would become Christina
from The House of Secrets album is done in the same soft French
jazz-cafe rhythm of Michelle and has a similar on-the-beats
melody. Tangerine Records put out a collection of Direct Hits material,
but since Tangerine appears to be no more, the CD is probably only slightly
easier to find now than the original albums. But thats what
the Internet is for.
Do You Know - The Left Banke
Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina; 1967
Kind of a pre-Rutles
Rutles song, even down to the title and its missing question mark.
Its a take on the Country & Western songs Ringo did on Beatles
records. With the SpongeTones Dont You Know
we had harmony Georges, and here its harmony Ringos.
These guys also did a great Kinks cop (Bryant Hotel) where
they showcased not only their Ray Davies impression, but their Dave, too.
They had a good time.
Dont Believe You - Ringo
Time Takes Time; 1992
to allow this. There is an argument that its impossible for the
Beatles to do impressions of themselves, but I say nay. Nay, I say. This
was written by the guys from Jellyfish, and it must have been great fun
for them to play Lennon & McCartney to Ringos Ringo and write
and perform a song for the man himself. Always the coolest Beatle. (I
can imagine it being intimidating to be in the presence of John, Paul
or even George, but surely Ringo could never be cranky. Not our Ringo.)
This song is sort of a take on all of his country songs with
the Beatles, but it seems to fit What Goes On best. More energetic,
but same lyrical theme.
Me Tell You - Los Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
was Pauls 'French' song; Girl was Johns.
Both have the metronome beat -- although I think Ringo might be using
brushes on Girl -- but, as we mentioned, Michelles
melody notes fall right on the beat, whereas Girls melody
has more of a skipping two-step dot, di-dot, di-dot cadence.
(All/about/the girl/who came/to stay.) Girl
also has more of a minor key feel and high harmonies in the chorus. All
of those elements are found in this moody Shakers song.
Your Love Like Heaven - Donovan
Wear Your Love Like Heaven; December
Another gentle metronomic
stroll, in keeping with the model here. Underneath the jazz-rock
organ-and-vibes instrumentation are the minor key feel and dot,
di-dot cadence of Girl. Perhaps Donovans "Girl
- Stealers Wheel
Ferguslie Park; 1974
The book on
Rubber Soul was that it was the Beatles Pot album; Gerry
Raffertys sleepy vocals always made him sound like he was all over
that, man. In addition to this songs gently rocking acoustic
feel with the two-step rhythm to its melody, theres also the sighing
chorus from Girl, as in, Aaaah, tell me. We already
knew about Gerrys ability to channel Bob Dylan; doing Johns
folk-rock sound would have been a snap.
Looking Through You:
Looking Good - The Rutles
"The Rutles" (Soundtrack; CD bonus cut); 1978
The big hook
of Im Looking Through You is the distinctive stabbing
chord in the chorus; two adjacent, dissonant notes on organ (for which
Ringo gets performance credit on the album), played along with the little
guitar lick. Thats the basis for this Neil Innes song.
CD version of the Rutles album came out, this song was in effect one of
the very first Easter Eggs; i.e. it was only available in
the movie, where it's depicted as the song they sang at Che Stadium.
But it didn't make the original LP, so for a long time the only way to
get the song would have been to videotape the movie when it came on TV
(good luck!) Kids these days have no idea
the intro to Im Looking Through You is one more way
in which the American version of Rubber Soul is superior the false
start is edited out of the English version, and its always disappointing
to hear it missing on the CD. At least they didnt cut out
the little bit of feedback during the third verse. I wonder if they would
if they could.
You Leave Her - The Easybeats
Volume 3; Nov. 3, 1966
Edited or not,
the intro of Im Looking Through is a few little guitar
strums of just a bar or so, played high up the neck -- almost a ukulele
lick. Then they discard it. Vanda and Young pick it up and
make a whole song out of it.
Eyes Have Seen You - The Doors
Strange Days; October 1967
Looking Through Yous characterstic dissonant two-note chord
is generally recalled and eleborated on in the chaotic stabbing rhythm
of the chorus here. (Compare the Endless roll and Baby,
youve changed codas of the two song.) Much darker, but thats
the Doors. Then compare the two titles and wonder what they might have
been listening to.
of My Life - Jade
Faces of Jade; 1970
much all there just in the title and lyric. But theres also a very
Mersey vocal (singing like John is just too much fun to resist) and we
have the "It's Only Love" riff at the end to wrap it up.
Jade were a Cincinnati group; at the moment this album seems to be quite
a rare find. But everything seems to get reissued sooner or later.
Wonder - The Gants
Gants Again; October 1966
Pieces of In My Lifes melody are all over
this -- from the verse, from the bridge, even from the harpsichord solo.
They arrange it as much more of an uptempo pop workout, though.
Got a Friend - James Taylor
Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon;
most of this Carole King song would be a couple or three steps removed
from the original, but compare the guitar intros of the two
songs and it seems pretty clear that In My Life was in her
head when she wrote this. James Taylors version on guitar
makes the similarity between the two intos clearer, but in addition to
that, the very next song on this album is:
In My Past - James Taylor
Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon; 1971
Any Money? - The Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
Many of the
Shakers songs were skillful amalgams of more than one Beatles song.
This has this bassline of The Word and a variation on Day
Trippers vocal crescendo, and then there are several elements
from Wait: A variation of the stop/start motif and tambourine
rhythm and the volume control guitar. Probably the ultimate Shakers song,
capped by its triumphant Yes I got job! bridge.
Late - The Shakers
Shakers For You; Noemvber 1966
We have a backup;
its chorus is even more like Wait. Although the rest of the
song...isnt. We could also refer to the very end of the SpongeTones’
“Don’t You Know” for a reference to the tag of “Wait.”
I Needed Someone:
Remember - The Kinks
Face To Face; Recorded Oct. 23, 1965
Oooh. This was recorded -- although not yet released -- before Rubber
Soul came out. So someone obviously got a sneak peek at someone else's
song, because when you compare the two melodies...well, if the verse doesnt
convince you, just wait till the bridge. Checking the archives, it appears
that If I Needed Someone was recorded first (Oct. 16
one week!), so George gets it by a nose.
Told Me - The Monkees
Headquarters; Recorded March 3, 1967
of Georges linear, up-and-down-the-scale melody. Plus some characteristic
George-like bending of notes in the vocal which gives it a slight Indian
flavor. Good 'ol American banjo work from Peter Tork brings it all back home, though.
Words - The Cyrkle
B-side to 'Penny Arcade'; Recorded June
characteristics about If I Needed Someone; the riff, and the
linear, up-and-down-the-scale melody. George once described how
the riff is based on the shape of a D chord (for guitarists) and how you
can create a lot of variations on it just by moving your fingers around.
As he also pointed out, it was derived from the Byrds riff to Bells
of Rhymney, presumably by the process he described. Thats
what we have here. The title, though, would seem to remind you of something
else on Rubber Soul. If I could just think what.
Many Birds - The Bee Gees
Spicks And Specks; Recorded April 1966
On A Riff In D. Well, the intro is, anyway; after that it
goes off on another tangent. The Bee Gees, of course, were known
in their early days for doing a great emulation of the Beatles sound --
Sydney radio even banned them on occasion for doing it too well. (As if
there was any such thing.) But they also had the creativity to throw a
lot of things into the mix, so their songs dont always easily match
up one-on-one with Beatles songs. As here.
This All Together - The Rolling Stones
Their Satanic Majesties Request; November
on Georges melody. This album was the Stones response to Sgt.
Pepper, although their creativity level wasnt necessarily at its
highest. If I may use that term.
Rosa Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Anni-frid (ABBA)
B-side to He Is Your Brother; 1972
Notably, this is one
of ABBAs earliest songs, from the time when Bjorn and Benny hadnt
quite hit on their magic formula; they were even singing many of the groups
songs at this point, as Bjorn(?) does here. They hadnt quite
hit on their catchy corporate acronym yet, either. (Which I cant quite
do justice, because my computer wont to a backwards B.)
For Your Life:
Train To Clarksville The Monkees
Single; Recorded July 25, 1966
One of the
classic riffs of rock/pop. And its one of a group of songs
with riffs that fit the following general description: Two quick notes,
the second an octave above the first, after which the riff works its way
back down the scale in some fashion or other. Last Train To
Clarksville is probably the ultimate distillation of that riff,
and probably the best known. But Run For Your Life also
follows the same general pattern. (Well, close: In Run For
Your Life its a D jumping up almost an octave to a C.
Allowable margin of error.) And Last Train To Clarksville
is a country-rocker with a backbeat straight from Run For Your Life.
Your Life seems to have been the first to use that riff in white
bread rocknroll, but it had been preceded in the spring of
1965 by Marvin Gayes Aint That Peculiar.
(Marvins guitarist Marv Tarplin apparently got the lick by messing
around with Bill Doggetts Honky Tonk.) After Run
For Your Life, we would have these Monkees songs, plus several others
with riffs that fit the same description; Straight Shooter
(The Mamas & The Papas); She Has Funny Cars (Jefferson
Airplane); Elevator Operator and Couldnt Believe
Her (Gene Clark); and Baby Im Comin (The
Easybeats). Whether Run For Your Life caused the effect
I cannot say. (They might all be coming from Aint That Peculiar.)
But theres a musical similarity, and once again, the Beatles had
gotten there first.
Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
The Monkees; Recorded July 23, 1966
of this riff pattern, again with Run For Your Lifes
country-rock feel. Kind of Last Train To Clarksville Part
2 -- only this was recorded first, so its probably the Mark
I version of the song. Lyrically, though, its not so much John Lennon
as Scarlett OHara.
Straight Up; 1972
backbeat, but here the guitar riff is embedded in the melody line.
Minister - The Move
Message From The Country; 1971
Valley Sunday - The Monkees
Single; July 10, 1967
Stage Right - The Bee Gees
Single; July 1967
Take It Easy - The SpongeTones
Beat Music; 1982
Much Talk - Paul Revere & The Raiders
Something Happening; 1968
Know My Rider - The Byrds
Unreleased ('Fifth Dimension' CD bonus
track); Recorded July 28, 1966
Dont Remember Your Name - The Records
Quite a few
reworkings of this, eh -- and, like the original, damn near allof 'em
are in "A," too! Easier to come up with something complicated
rather than something simple, and so there are more imitations of Pauls
somewhat more convoluted, somewhat less singable riff than Johns
Day Tripper. Its a bit more of a fingerpicking exercise;
it almost seems more related to bluegrass or jazz or something when you
pick up a guitar and try to play it. (Anything I have too much difficulty
playing I categorize as jazz.)
The rhythm of "Paperback Writer" was unmistakable, with the tambourine and
that busy bass going way up where no bass had gone before -- into your
fillings. The EMI engineers were afraid that the bass levels on this record
might make the needle jump out of the groove.
See The Rain - Marmalade
Hmmm, can we
have more of a lyrical clue, please? As seen in the Gap commercial,
says the sticker on the CD. Good grief. Oh well, not to complain, I guess;
thats how we keep obscure oldies (like the Kinks Picture
Book) alive for a new generation. Dispensing with the backwards
vocals here -- you could do a whole book on the use of backwards effects
-- they go for radical stereo pans instead. Points for being daring,
but it does kind of make you think your stereo is broken. Not an effect featured on the CD.
Is Now - The Byrds
The Notorious Byrd Brothers; Recorded
For a while
there John Lennon was making a real trade in slow, drony songs that got
a lot of mileage out of one chord (Ticket To Ride; Rain;
She Said She Said) and this Byrds song does a similar thing,
with some very sitar-y sounding guitars thrown in. (Check out Universal
Mind Decoder, an early version of this song, on the Notorious Byrd
Brothers reissue CD; its got some great extended Roger McGuinn leads.)
A little hard to make the distinction between whether to call this Rain,
or She Said She Said, or neither, (not bloody likely!) but the riff starts
out just like the melody of Rain, so thats what Ill
Know What To Do - The Bee Gees
Demo recording; 1967?
It starts with
an extended Aaaaah thats straight from the bridge of
"Rain." Goes more bluesy on us in the verse, though.
Laughed Loud - The Merry Go Round
Single; Recorded Sept.-Oct. 1967
There are quite
a few songs (and groups) that sound very Beatl-y and yet have so many
things in the musical mix that it can get trying to difficult to assign
them to one Beatles song. This song makes me think as much of I
Am The Walrus as it does of Rain, what with its marching
through slush rhythm and Indian instruments...which are also reminiscent of Hole In My Shoe, actually. And then theres the
lyric, which is somewhat derived from She Said She Said. But
once again, the melody is more Rain, so here it shall go.