Though John considered it to be his "first real, major piece of work", "In My Life" — lyrically, at least — had a humbler origin: a bus trip through places he remembered from his childhood in Liverpool. I used to have a copy of the original stream-of-consciousness list (inexplicably lost by me, and perplexingly not reproduced in the Anthology
book), and seem to remember both "Penny Lane"
and "Strawberry Fields"
getting an early mention.
Other types of 'trips' probably helped to extend his itinerary, taking in "lovers and friends" as well as "places I remember". Dead or alive, changed or the same: it doesn't seem to matter as he nostalgically recognizes their eternal influence upon him:In my life,
I've loved them all,
I'll love you more...
He and Paul quibbled over who actually came up with how much of the wistful melody, but it doesn't really matter. Everyone accompanies him with the utmost reverence on his journey through the past, vocally and instrumentally. There's no better track on Rubber Soul
to illustrate George Martin's creative contributions to it than this one, either. During a band 'tea' break, he played his baroque interlude on a normal piano and, speeding it up to match the melody, achieved that haunting harpsichord sound into the bargain. Returning to the studio, duly refreshed, John was blown away by the result.
No trickery, however, for that extraordinarily high final falsetto "in my life" — all his own work:
There is no-one compares with you.