Rubber Soul

Originally from:

George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney (photo by Robert Freeman).

The Beatles album Rubber Soul, released in time for Christmas on December 6, 1965, became the Billboard #1 album on January 8, 1966 and remained there until February 18.

When the Beatles had returned to the studio after their 1965 tour, they decided to go in another direction. Why?

The simplest answer is that Dylan had gone in a different direction and the Beatles that realized that they could, too.

In August 1964, the Beatles played a concert in New York City and afterwards famously met Bob Dylan who didn’t realize at first he was introducing the Beatles to marijuana. He was and they reportedly enjoyed the experience.

1965-66 – A Turning Point in ’60s Music

Originally from:

Freda Kelly testing Rubber Soul albums. Photo Credit: Business Insider (YoutTube Screenshot)

Although Beatlemania had hit America in 1964 and the band had six #1 singles that year alone, it was not that music that lead to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

With that lyrical and musical freedom Dylan trumpeted, the Beatles returned to the studio in October 1965 and “Rubber Soul” happened. While the pop sound they were known for still appeared, there was more depth, too.

It was Dylan’s electric music, music that delighted some of his fans and dismayed others. His song “Maggie’s Farm” was a declaration of independence. No longer would he be pigeon-holed as a protest folk singer. Dylan’s lyric freedom opened the doors for rock and roll to do the same.

John Lennon sang on “Girl”

Was she told when she was young that pain
Would lead to pleasure?
Did she understand it when they said
That a man must break his back to earn
His day of leisure?
Will she still believe it when he’s dead?
Ah girl

To the typical American Baby Boomer teenager, this was no longer simply wanting to “…hold your hand.” And where Dylan and the Beatles walked was the path that many followed.

Following this, in 1966, American pop music came upon a fork in the road and some fans took the road of 45s and top ten while others took the path less traveled. In 1966, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys would produce, the definitely not surf music, Pet Sounds. The Beatles closed 1966 with what some call Rubber Soul part two, Revolver, a continuation of their musical and lyrical experimentation. The Mothers of Invention released Freak Out! Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests got into full swing. Light shows at concerts began. Crawdaddy, the first rock and roll magazine to write longer articles, appeared. Concerts at San Francisco’s Fillmore began. John Lennon got into trouble after pointing out that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” among many fans. FM rock stations began. Jefferson Airplane released their first album. The Beatles performed their final commercial tour. Jimi Hendrix was a hit in England. The Beatles began to record Sgt. Pepper’s.

That less traveled path would lead to Woodstock after a few other festival stops along the way.

For more about the album, click through >>>

Jim Shelley

Jim Shelley, lifelong resident of Cliffside Park, NJ, is a retired high school social science teacher and attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair when he was 19. Jim borrowed his future father-in-law’s binoculars and 35 mm camera, loaded the camera with one roll of Kodachrome, and planned on driving home on Sunday morning to bring his girlfriend (now wife) back up. That didn’t happen, but he did take the pictures, sometimes through the binoculars. In 2011, he became a volunteer at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and later a docent there where he enjoys speaking to guests of all ages about the 1960s cultural revolution, its continued impact on our lives today, and how Bethel Woods Center for the Arts provides an outstanding setting for those conversations. He also writes for his own blog at

Jim Shelley – who has written posts on WoodsTalk | Bethel Woods Center for The Arts.

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