Thanks to giving up ripping, storing, and moving music, and joining a monthly streaming service, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of music again. Just finding and playing whatever comes to mind. So of course I’m not listening to anything made this century. I’m listening to childhood favorites. AC/DC. Steely Dan. The Beatles.
Rubber Soul (1965) was a longtime favorite.
The problem is, listening to it as a middle-aged man with an education and experience and a wife and two daughters is way different than listening to it as a kid who just liked the riffs.
I swear to God, if someone said at the office, what the Beatles sang on this album, there wouldn’t be an HR intervention. There’d be a lockdown.
Like all abusive relationships, it starts out fun.
“Baby You Can Drive My Car” is about a girl telling a guy she’s got big dreams, she’s not rich yet, but when she gets there, he can be her servant, and, well, “…maybe I love you.” So this is the Beatles psycho perspective on women as gold-digging, heartless slave masters.
“Norwegian Wood” continues the theme, masking it in trippy Indian guitar riffs, but really just repeating the idea that women are bossy and ask for too much. To paraphrase the lyrics: “I didn’t want to get a job, so she left me, and that’s cool. I’ll just chill here in the bathtub while she’s at work.” Because yeah, that’s how healthy relationships work.
Things turn dark with “You Won’t See Me.” “When I call you up, your line’s engaged. I’ve had enough. So act your age.” This might be OK, but things are clearly worse than her just being busy. “I don’t know why you should want to hide. But I can’t get through. My hands are tied.” Apparently, they’ve been arrested, and they’re in handcuffs. “Time after time, you refuse to even listen. I wouldn’t mind, if I knew what I was missing.” What does that mean? To say it plainly, “I need a little taste, Sugar. You owe me. See you when I get out of jail.”
In “Think for Yourself,” the bowl-cut psychos pause for a moment of nihilism. “I’ve got a thing or two to say about the things that you do. You’re telling all those lies, about the good things we can have, if we close our eyes.” The psychos are now “woke,” to put it in 21st century speak. They’re not going to let mere girlfriends end them. Okie dokie.
With “The Word,” the Beatles become prophets. “Say the word and you’ll be free. Say the word and be like me.” And of course the word is “love.” But the actions? Hmm. Next song, please.
Well, now they’re dating a French girl, because every gal who understands English has fled. Good luck, Michele. Paul says, “I’ll get to you, somehow.” So, you know, that’s comforting, right? (Find the embassy! Trouvez l’ambassade!)
In the next song, “What Goes On,” the dating-girls-who-don’t-understand-you phase is over. “It’s so easy for a girl like you to lie. Tell me why?” If Homer Simpson were to translate, it would be, “Urge to kill, rising.”
Follow that with the Hannibal Lecter, air-sucking-over-teeth sound in “Ooo, Girl, *ssst*” and if I were the girl, I’d be looking for an exit or a weapon.
The terribly catchy tune “I’m Looking Through You” rages about how a girl has, you know, changed. “Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight,” says Travis Bickle to the mirror.
“Wait” asks her to “Wait till I come back to your side. We’ll forget those tears we cried.” Really? “I feel as though, you ought to know, I’ve been as good as I can be.” Says the drunken girlfriend beater, asking for the 13th chance.
“If I Needed Someone” sounds like a bright and cheery distraction from all the crazy. But no. Listen to what they’re saying. “I guess I’d be with you, my friend. If I needed someone. Had you come some other day, it might not have been like this.” Which is exactly what Anton Chigurh says to the guy at the gas station before he flips the coin to determine his fate, Friendo.
Finally, in “Run for Your Life,” all pretense has evaporated. “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. You better keep your head, little girl, or I won’t know where I am.” That’s right, the killer Beatles are saying “It’s your fault I’ve gone nuts. Better run.” Then three more choruses of “see you dead,” but you know, up-tempo.
There are still two Beatles left. And though Paul and Ringo are old, they’re still producing. Be careful, or they may just Rocky Raccoon your ass.