In September 1980, John Lennon told David Sheff, an interviewer for Playboy magazine, that “In My Life” was “the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously about my life.”
John elaborated: “‘In My Life’ started out as a bus journey from my house on 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place that I could remember. And it was ridiculous. It was the most boring sort of ‘What I Did on My Holidays Bus Trip’ song and it wasn’t working at all.”
“But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember.”
John concluded “It was, I think, my first real major piece of work.”
Verse 1 of “In My Life” begins: “There are places I’ll remember…” In the sixth line of the verse, Lennon mentions the “lovers and friends I still can recall.” He finishes the first verse stating: “In my life, I’ve loved them all.”
Verse 2 narrows the subject of Lennon’s attention: “But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you.” Though he again commemorates his past: “I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and things that went before,” he ends the second verse, and ultimately the song, by proclaiming to his present tense love: “In my life, I’ll love you more.”
This is not the perfect “Thank You” song or the perfect “Happy Anniversary” song, but as I once wrote: “There are songs that are more than melody and words.” This is one of those songs.
So, I offer Verse 1 to all of my family and friends who planned, conspired and gathered to give me a surprise 60th birthday party this past Thursday that went far beyond anything I had ever dreamed of. I have been and will continue to be marveling and thinking back over that once-in-a-lifetime evening for many, many days to come.
I offer Verse 2 to my dearest Andrea as we joyfully celebrate on this sun-drenched August day the 35th anniversary of our wedding.
In my life, I love you all.
P.S.: If you’d like to hear the song that I sang to my bride on this day 35 years ago, go to the blog archives for August 2011 and scroll down to the post entitled “33 Years.” Click on the blue link for “Tell You Very Simply (Wedding Song)” and wait for it.
P.S.S.: The Beatles began work on the recording of “In My Life” on the afternoon of Monday, October 18, 1965 in Studio Two of Abbey Road Studios in London, England. The third “take” of the song was deemed the best. (They’d spent the first part of the three hour and fifteen minute session recording George Harrison’s song “If I Needed Someone.”) The famous instrumental piano break was added on Friday, October 22. It was created and played by George Martin, The Beatles’ producer.
The final mono mix of “In My Life” was made on Monday, October 25 and the stereo mix was made on Tuesday, October 26. The Beatles themselves attended very few of these mixing sessions at this time.
“In My Life” was released as the fourth track on the second side of the LP Rubber Soul on Friday, December 5, 1965.
The sources for the information and quotes used in this post were: The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon & Yoko Ono: The Final Testament…, interviews by David Sheff, edited by G. Barry Golson, Berklee Books edition, 1982 and The Beatles: Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, Harmony Books, 1988.