I’ve often thought that when George Harrison was writing When We Was Fab with Jeff Lynne, he must have had In My Life rattling around in his head. To me, no other song manages to capture those brilliant days of ’62 – ’66 Beatledom quite like this track. Before Yoko, before the squabbles, arguably before they’d made their best run of albums, The Beatles made this song, which can be found on 1965’s Rubber Soul.
The simplicity of it is certainly a huge factor in its overall beauty. George Harrison’s oh so simple guitar refrain just has all of that down. Nostalgic, melancholic, powerful. The instrumental bridge was actually all of George Martin’s work, having realised he couldn’t play the part at the song’s tempo, Martin recorded it at half-tempo (which leads to it being one octave lower) and simply sped it up, leading to that harpsichord-like timbral sound.
The lyric is Lennon looking back over his childhood in Liverpool after being told to do so by Kenneth Allsop (journalist). Without pointing out any specific part of Liverpool, Lennon manages to lead you into the city through rather more vague terms.
In My Life
This song makes me think of Liverpool. It makes me think of The Beatles ‘when they was fab’. It sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it. Any song which can provoke that kind of transcendental, emotional, irrational response can only be labelled as great.
Obviously The Beatles have many great songs and it’s always a hard question to answer (“what’s your favourite Beatles song?”) but this does rank very highly on the list. So high in fact that Mojo mag named it the greatest song of all time in 2000.