In My Life – Leah Siegel
Recorded on March 7, 2009, original version recorded on October 18, 1965.
Leah Siegel: Vocals
Roger Greenawalt: Ukulele, Robot Drums
Produced by Roger Greenawalt at Shabby Road Studio in Brooklyn, NY
About the Song
In My Life is a John Lennon song from the Rubber Soul album.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
Wistfulness and sadness at the passage of time is not an easy subject to discuss in a two minute twenty-eight second pop song. Lennon nails it. In My Life is the Celtic world view.The ability to see the beauty of the world through a mist of tears. It’s an Irish wake this piece. Thank god they recorded it so we can go down to the Irish Pub of our mind and drown our sorrows anytime we like.
Regrets, I’ve had a lot. Not John. This is an out and out Love Song To The Past.
A love song to a Dead Girlfriend. Or in this case a Love Song To His Dead Mother. Or the Dead Best Friend. Stu the painting bass player.
Not to be Freudian, but this lyric just screams “Mommy’s Dead!” to me. Sorry Stu.
For me as a listener, this song always reminds me of my childhood when John wasn’t dead.
Speaking of death, it’s time to trot out Lennon and McCartney’s big fat artistic advantage.
(No they weren’t gay, but that would have been awesome. Imagine how much better The Beatles would have been if they were having sex with each like Fleetwood Mac.) No, their big advantage, and by far their biggest shared experience when they first became friends, was that they both had Young Dead Mothers. Like Madonna, who also has a Young Dead Mother, this emotional bottomless pit can create an engine of fierce need and ambition.
Just the drive you need to push you over the edge of excellence.
No amount of love or money is bringing Mommy back. But huge amounts of love and money are a nice distraction if you’re grieving.
Back to In My Life. John sings very innocently here, like an orphan in a Disney movie or Dickens novel.
Falling in love with the past is great. I do it all the time.
“Some are dead and some are living.”
That’s a heavy lyric for somebody who had just turned 25 and was at the vortex of a crazy hurricane of fame and fortune. Any normal person in his place would have been shagging Twiggy on acid in Morocco. Instead he was living in the dreary suburbs of London and making masterpieces.
Writing like this is why Lennon enjoys such a high reputation. Deservedly so.
I wish they hadn’t double tracked the John’s lead vocal. It’s not quite tight. Enough to be slightly nervous making to modern ears. The backing vocals, which sound like Harrison and McCartney doubling themselves, are Perfuckto. Ring’s Drum part is really innovative, he only plays a normal beat in the second half of the B sections. The verse drumbeat is a minimal marvel.
Ringo swings, using silence as his main weapon. Unfortunately, there’s the usual insanely loud tambourine doubling the ride cymbal in the B section. Shame.
John’s falsetto at the end would become his most featured and beloved vocal effect. It signals vulnerability. Or in the case of The Bee Gees, disco.
There’s a trick sound in the solo. George Martin wrote a Baroque piano bit that he found was too difficult for him to play. By slowing down the master tape from 15 inches per second to 7 and a half inches per second, (thanks to the magic of physics), the music plays back at half speed and down exactly one octave. Martin then played the part on a normal piano at half speed down an octave. When that was played back, the tone of the piano became much brighter and harpsichord like. That the part is written in the style of an 18th Century Invention, makes it all the more witty.
Our version features the stunning vocalist Leah Siegel. Her voice makes one swoon.
In My Life is sung by Ophelia, who is a drowned ghost, to her doomed but not quite dead yet Danish boyfriend, Hamlet. The big change is that the guitar melody at the start of each A section now has a lyric, and the bridge uses paranoid voices inside of Hamlet’s skull instead of a harpsichord solo. Oh and did I mention,
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