A word or two about Rubber Soul generally:  With the CD releases, Capitol finally put right the mish mash they’d 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 Americans!)

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 “It’s Only Love” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and the deletion of the more electric songs serve to heighten the “acoustic” mood more so than the original.

Most noticeably, though, “I’ve 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 Soul’s more sophisticated, “Continental” feel. So, that said...

Drive My Car:

“Have You Seen Her Face” - The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday; Recorded Nov. 11, 1966
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 rock’n’roll’s 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 – it’s all but begging for a cowbell* -- as well as its twangy lead guitar.  Perhaps it’s 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 we’ve seen, a writer’s early material is more prone to reveal its roots; even the titles of Chris’s 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."

 

"Louise" – Paul Revere & The Raiders
The Spirit of ’67; November 1966
An examination of the Paul Revere catalog shows plenty of Beatle lifts, although their “Northwest Sound” was certainly All-American.  If this song’s lineage isn’t 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..."

 

"Light My Fire" – The Doors
The Doors; January 1967
The rhythmic pattern of “Light My Fire’s” 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.”

 

"Spooky" - Classics IV
Single; Sept. 1967
Think of the opening guitar chords of “Spooky” and imagine speeding them up a little bit; they’re like an abbreviated version of the melody of “Drive My Car’s” verse. (“She said baby, can’t 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 there’s a “varispeed” theme here.

Norwegian Wood:

“4th 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 it’s easy to imagine why, given the obvious musical resemblance here, and the "I never asked for your crutch, now don’t 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.)

Like “Norwegian Wood,” this is another conversation between the singer and a woman ("I said…/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 pretty dumb.

 

“Reviens 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 don’t know if it’s about furniture or gum or what.

 

You Won’t See Me:

“I Saw The Light” - Todd Rundgren
Something/Anything?; February 1972
Doesn’t really require any explanation, its melody is so similar. Some of Todd’s Beatles impressions were covert, some overt.

 

“Saturday 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 Won’t 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-la’s, 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 it’s built on that solid Beatles foundation. People didn’t sample back then; they did this.

 

Nowhere Man:

“Coalman” - The Bee Gees
Single; January 1967
He’s 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 he’s down”…“he takes my hand”… “you can get advice.”  In reality, the Coalman’s advice would probably have been, “Why don’tcha get yer bleedin’ ‘aircut! Two years in the Army’d do yer good.”  Musically, this song has “Nowhere Man’s” loping rhythm and lively bass, an approximation of its guitar sound and, of course, there are those Bee(tle) Gees harmonies.

 

“My Back Pages” - The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday; Recorded Dec. 5, 1966
As a composition this song doesn’t 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 they’ll mesh (for the first half of the verse here, anyway), revealing the similarities in the two melodies.  “Nowhere Man" was one of John’s more Dylan-esque lyrical concepts, and the Byrds’ version of “My Back Pages” might be the ultimate expression of McGuinn’s stated purpose when he formed the band, i.e. to bridge the gap between Dylan and the Beatles.

 

“Know One Knows” - Badfinger
Wish You Were Here; 1974
This song has the same easy rocking rhythm of “Nowhere Man,” but what’s more notable here is that the melody -- a series of triplets -- has the just same rhythmic pattern as George’s guitar solo.

 

“The Last Time” - Mr. Encrypto
Hero And Villain; 2001
I’m going 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 won’t mention this one after all. I wonder if they know that due to the unfreezing process I have no inner monologue.

 

Think For Yourself:

“Don't You Know” - The SpongeTones
Beat Music; 1982
“Think For Yourself’s” distinctive fuzz-bass isn’t 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 George’s,“You Like Me Too Much.”

 

The Word:

“Man” - The Redcoats
Meet The Redcoats...Finally!; Recorded 1967?
The extended “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 “Taxman’s” 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 it’s borrowing part of the bassline from “Think For Yourself” -- so by virtue of proximity it probably goes best here.

 

“Smile Again” - The Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
Here's the bossa nova rhythm, offset beat and high harmonies of "Word."

 

“From The Word Go” - Chris Stamey
It's Alright; 1987
Chris Stamey,  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.

 

Michelle:

“All Smiles” - Utopia
Deface The Music; 1980
“Michelle” is based on a deliberate, “tick-tock” kind of tempo, like a metronome; an effect accented by Ringo’s side-stick playing, and Paul’s right-on-the-beats melody.  (“These-are-words-that-go-to-ge-ther-well.”)  Even though “All Smiles” is piano- instead of guitar-based, it’s a pretty definitive rewrite, with that gentle rhythm -- and because it’s on Deface The Music in the first place. As we said, some of Todd Rundgren’s references were overt.

 

"Francoise" - Honeybus
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 Can’t Let Maggie Go”), but made a number of singles in the Beatles era.  Their anthology is available on Castle/Sanctuary.

 

"Angelina" - The Direct Hits
Demo Recording; 1986
The Direct 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 that’s what the Internet is for.

 

What Goes On:

“What 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.  It’s a take on the Country & Western songs Ringo did on Beatles records.  With the SpongeTones’ “Don’t You Know” we had harmony “Georges,” and here it’s 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.

 

“I Don’t Believe You” - Ringo
Time Takes Time; 1992
I’m going to allow this. There is an argument that it’s 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 Ringo’s 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.

 

Girl:

“Let Me Tell You” - Los Shakers
Shakers For You; November 1966
“Michelle” was Paul’s 'French' song; “Girl” was John’s.  Both have the metronome beat -- although I think Ringo might be using brushes on “Girl” -- but, as we mentioned, “Michelle’s” melody notes fall right on the beat, whereas “Girl’s” 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.

 

“Wear Your Love Like Heaven” - Donovan
Wear Your Love Like Heaven; December 1967
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 Donovan’s "Girl Michelle.”

 

“Star” - Stealer’s Wheel
Ferguslie Park; 1974
The book on Rubber Soul was that it was the Beatles’ “Pot” album; Gerry Rafferty’s sleepy vocals always made him sound like he was all over that, man.  In addition to this song’s gently rocking acoustic feel with the two-step rhythm to its melody, there’s also the “sighing” chorus from “Girl,” as in, “Aaaah, tell me.” We already knew about Gerry’s ability to channel Bob Dylan; doing John’s folk-rock sound would have been a snap.

 

I'm Looking Through You:

“It's Looking Good” - The Rutles
"The Rutles" (Soundtrack; CD bonus cut); 1978
The big hook of “I’m 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. That’s the basis for this Neil Innes song.

Before the 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…

Incidentally, the intro to “I’m 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 it’s always disappointing to hear it missing on the CD.  At least they didn’t cut out the little bit of feedback during the third verse. I wonder if they would if they could.

 

“Can’t You Leave Her” - The Easybeats
Volume 3; Nov. 3, 1966
Edited or not, the intro of “I’m 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.

 

“My Eyes Have Seen You” - The Doors
Strange Days; October 1967
“I’m Looking Through You’s” 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, you’ve changed” codas of the two song.) Much darker, but that’s the Doors. Then compare the two titles and wonder what they might have been listening to.

 

In My Life:

“Rest of My Life” - Jade
Faces of Jade; 1970
It’s pretty much all there just in the title and lyric. But there’s 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.

 

“I Wonder” - The Gants
Gants Again; October 1966
Pieces of “In My Life’s” 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.

 

“You've Got a Friend” - James Taylor
Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon; 1971
Musically, 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 Taylor’s version on guitar makes the similarity between the two intos clearer, but in addition to that, the very next song on this album is:

 

“Places In My Past” - James Taylor
Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon; 1971
Seems clear enough.

Wait:

“Got 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 Tripper’s” 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.

 

“Too 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...isn’t. We could also refer to the very end of the SpongeTones’ “Don’t You Know” for a reference to the tag of “Wait.”

If I Needed Someone:

“I’ll 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 doesn’t 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.

 

“You Told Me” - The Monkees
Headquarters; Recorded March 3, 1967
Another reworking of George’s 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.

 

“The Words” - The Cyrkle
B-side to 'Penny Arcade'; Recorded June 8, 1967
Two distinctive 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.  That’s what we have here. The title, though, would seem to remind you of something else on Rubber Soul. If I could just think what.

 

“How Many Birds” - The Bee Gees
Spicks And Specks; Recorded April 1966
“Variation 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 don’t always easily match up one-on-one with Beatles songs. As here.

 

“Sing This All Together” - The Rolling Stones
Their Satanic Majesties Request; November 1967
Another variation on George’s melody. This album was the Stones’ response to Sgt. Pepper, although their creativity level wasn’t necessarily at its highest. If I may use that term.

 

“Santa Rosa” – Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Anni-frid (ABBA)
B-side to He Is Your Brother; 1972
Notably, this is one of ABBA’s earliest songs, from the time when Bjorn and Benny hadn’t quite hit on their magic formula; they were even singing many of the group’s songs at this point, as Bjorn(?) does here.  They hadn’t quite hit on their catchy corporate acronym yet, either. (Which I can’t quite do justice, because my computer won’t to a backwards “B”.)

 

Run For Your Life:

“Last Train To Clarksville” – The Monkees
Single; Recorded July 25, 1966
One of the classic riffs of rock/pop.  And it’s 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’ it’s 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.”

“Run For Your Life” seems to have been the first to use that riff in white bread rock’n’roll, but it had been preceded in the spring of 1965 by Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.”  (Marvin’s guitarist Marv Tarplin apparently got the lick by messing around with Bill Doggett’s “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 “Couldn’t Believe Her” (Gene Clark); and “Baby I’m Comin’” (The Easybeats).  Whether “Run For Your Life” caused the effect I cannot say. (They might all be coming from “Ain’t That Peculiar.”) But there’s a musical similarity, and once again, the Beatles had gotten there first.

 

“Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day” – The Monkees
The Monkees; Recorded July 23, 1966
Another example of this riff pattern, again with “Run For Your Life’s” country-rock feel.  Kind of “Last Train To Clarksville Part 2” -- only this was recorded first, so it’s probably the Mark I version of the song. Lyrically, though, it’s not so much John Lennon as Scarlett O’Hara.

 

“Sometimes” - Badfinger
Straight Up; 1972
Same country backbeat, but here the guitar riff is embedded in the melody line.

 

Singles:

Paperback Writer:

“The Minister” - The Move
Message From The Country; 1971

“Pleasant Valley Sunday” - The Monkees
Single; July 10, 1967

“Exit, Stage Right” - The Bee Gees
Single; July 1967

“Better Take It Easy” - The SpongeTones
Beat Music; 1982

“Too Much Talk” - Paul Revere & The Raiders
Something Happening; 1968

“I Know My Rider” - The Byrds
Unreleased ('Fifth Dimension' CD bonus track); Recorded July 28, 1966

“I Don’t Remember Your Name” - The Records
Crashes; 1980

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 Paul’s somewhat more convoluted, somewhat less singable riff than John’s “Day Tripper.” It’s 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.

Rain:

“I See The Rain” - Marmalade
Single; 1967
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; that’s 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.

 

“Change Is Now” - The Byrds
The Notorious Byrd Brothers; Recorded July, 1967
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; it’s 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 that’s what I’ll call it.

 

“I’ll Know What To Do” - The Bee Gees
Demo recording; 1967?
It starts with an extended “Aaaaah” that’s straight from the bridge of "Rain." Goes more bluesy on us in the verse, though.

 

“She 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 there’s the lyric, which is somewhat derived from “She Said She Said.” But once again, the melody is more “Rain,” so here it shall go.