"In My Life" is one of the two songs in which authorship was disputed between Lennon and McCartney (the other being "Eleanor Rigby"), although the song will almost surely be remembered as a Lennon composition.
Here are the pertinent Beatles facts. Lennon said that he was thinking about Penny Lane and other places from his past when he wrote it. Lennon went on to say that this was the first song he consciously wrote about his life. He claimed that the song started out as being a bus journey of sorts from his house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, citing all the places he could remember, such as Penny Lane (the song was written before McCartney wrote "Penny Lane"), Strawberry Fields, and the Tram Sheds. Lennon, however said it was boring, wasn't working, and could have been called "What I Did on My Holiday Bus Trip." "But then I laid back," he said in his 1980 Playboy interview, "and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember . . . I'd struggled for days and hours trying to write clever lyrics. Then I gave up, and 'In My Life' came to me."
McCartney was very specific about his contribution, as can be seen in his 1984 interview in Playboy, in which he said, "I think I wrote the tune to that. John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune. I remember he had the words, like a poem . . . I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Melletron he had, writing the tune, which was Miracles inspired, as I remember."
But Lennon has a completely different recollection. He said, "Paul helped me with the middle eight. . . . In 'In My Life,' his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle eight itself."
The line about friends both living and dead is allegedly about Lennon's friend Pete Shotton and the deceased former Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe. In the same Playboy interview, Lennon said, "It was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throwaway. And that was the first time I consciously put [the] literary part of myself into the lyric."
"In My Life" was one of George Harrison's favorite Lennon-McCartney songs. He caused some harsh feelings, however, when he performed the song in 1974, changing one line to "In my life I love God more," although some sources say he changed it to "In my life I love Him more."
The song was recorded on October 18, 1965 at Abbey Road, with instrumentals overdubbed on October 22. A gap was intentionally left in the track for a solo. In the Beatles' absence, George Martin filled in this gap with an Elizabethan-style piano part that he electronically speeded up.
Lennon sang a double-tracked lead vocal, and McCartney sang harmony. Harrison played lead guitar, McCartney bass, Starr drums, and George Martin piano.
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