In My Life - The Beatles
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"In My Life" - The Beatles (1965)
Lennon would always claim authorship of “In My Life” and said McCartney only participated in creating the harmony and the middle eight.
McCartney says that the original inspiration and “template” was his, as well as the entire melody which was based on a Smokey Robinson motif with the minors and little harmonies lifted from Miracles records. He recalls taking the words over to a keyboard and setting them to music from start to finish and that he wrote the entire melody.
Beatle scholar Ian MacDonald asserts that due to McCartney’s melodic/harmonic styles the song sounds more like it was created by him rather than Lennon.
Although - formally it is a straight love song, the listener tends to interpret it as nostalgic. With its haunting melody and moving lyrics, it is one of the group’s finest moments in creating a beautiful musical painting.
Producer George Martin’s piano solo, with its Baroque overtones, establishes the track’s nostalgic undercurrents. To get the tempo he wanted, he recorded it at half speed and then played it back at double speed. This gave it a sound like a harpsichord which emphasized the song’s focus on the connection and relationship between the narrator’s past and present.
Autghor Jonathan Gould commented:
“Paced by Ringo’s drumming, a clever combination of bumps and clicks and thwacks makes the passage of time sounds like some battered mantelpiece clock. The track is graced by an elegant, active melody, enclosed within a neat octave of musical space that straddles the keynote of the song, the lyric strikes a delicate balance between a sense of longing and a sense of fulfillment.”
On Ringo’s drumming, music critic Alex Klinger wrote:
“Ringo’s beat is surprisingly intricate, and it propels the song even as it keeps the listener slightly off-balance with its syncopation.”
“In My Life” seems to indicate a large transition in his life. The speaker is leaving so much behind in favor of a new love- a very powerful statement. This love he feels for the person to whom he is singing is so profound that it feels like a completely new emotion. Everything else pales in comparison to this “new” love.
The song initially places itself within a positive. The narrator notes that he has loved them all and observes, but not bitterly, of the places that “some have changed/Some forever, not for better.”
“In My Life” is a poignant mediation on the passage of time and the comforts and sadness of memories. In the face of life’s impermanence and inevitable losses it is love that remains and sustains, enriching the present by honoring the past. Yet it also underscores our vexing relationship with the past, which exerts a powerful hold upon the present, in one sense, while slowly fading from memory and metamorphosing into other, perhaps more pleasing or less painful memories with each passing year.
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