In My Life

Rubber Soul album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 18, 22 October 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 3 December 1965 (UK), 6 December 1965 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass
George Harrison: harmony vocals, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano, tambourine

Available on:
Rubber Soul

One of the highlights of the Rubber Soul album, In My Life was written mostly by John Lennon, and started out as a nostalgic set of memories of Liverpool.

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There was a period when I thought I didn't write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock 'n' roll. But of course, when I think of some of my own songs - In My Life, or some of the early stuff, This Boy - I was writing melody with the best of them.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon regarded In My Life particularly highly, citing it - along with Strawberry Fields Forever, I Am The Walrus and Help! - as among his best.

For In My Life, I had a complete set of lyrics after struggling with a journalistic vision of a trip from home to downtown on a bus naming every sight. It became In My Life, which is a remembrance of friends and lovers of the past. Paul helped with the middle eight musically. But all lyrics written, signed, sealed, and delivered. And 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 my literary part of myself into the lyric. Inspired by Kenneth Alsopf [sic], the British journalist, and Bob Dylan.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

He first had the idea for the song in 1964, when journalist Kenneth Allsop asked Lennon why his songs were less revealing and challenging than his books. Musing on this, Lennon decided to take a nostalgic look at specific places and memories from his Liverpool past.

I think In My Life was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously about my life, and it was sparked by a remark a journalist and writer in England made after In His Own Write came out. I think In My Life was after In His Own Write... But he said to me, 'Why don't you put some of the way you write in the book, as it were, in the songs? Or why don't you put something about your childhood into the songs?' Which came out later as Penny Lane from Paul - although it was actually me who lived in Penny Lane - and Strawberry Fields.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

In the same interview, Lennon described how the song's early draft was significantly different from the final version.

In My Life started out as a bus journey from my house on 250 [sic] Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember. And it was ridiculous. This is before even Penny Lane was written and I had Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Tram Sheds - Tram Sheds are the depot just outside of Penny Lane - and it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holidays Bus Trip' song and it wasn't working at all. I cannot do this! I cannot do this!

But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Now Paul helped write the middle-eight melody. The whole lyrics were already written before Paul had even heard it. In In My Life, his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle eight itself.

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The original draft mentioned a list of Liverpool landmarks, including Penny Lane, the Abbey pub in Childwall, the Old Dutch café, and the Dockers' Umbrella - the colloquial name for the Liverpool Overhead Railway, now demolished.

Penny Lane is one I'm missing
Up Church Road to the clock tower
In the circle of the abbey
I have seen some happy hours

Past the tram sheds with no trams
On the 5 bus into town
Past the Dutch and St Columbus
To the Dockers Umbrella that they pulled down

John Lennon's draft lyrics for In My Life

118 responses on “In My Life

    1. aris

      Well, Paul said he didn’t want to be categorical about his having written the song’s melody, but he was nothing but.. I sort of believe him: he was so detailed in his recollection of how he wrote the song’s music. I have no doubt John wrote the lyrics though. It was all he was able to be specific about..

      1. Janet

        I’m not sure I would trust “Rolling Stone,” to get every little detail entirely right. I find many of their writings to be hugely biased and not completely reliable. If this claim is not supported by any existing quotes then I don’t think I would find much validity in the article.

          1. Janet

            I don’t think there was anything vague or unclear about what I wrote. I was saying that if the Rolling Stone article did not actually provide any quotes supporting their claim about McCartney helping Lennon with the lyrics to “In My Life” then I wouldn’t trust Rolling Stone with that particular claim. As I had previously stated, I am not the greatest fan of “Rolling Stone.” While many of their writings are not necessarily lacking in insight I feel that their tendency to allow their biases to cloud their judgement in more ways than one causes them to get many things wrong. Please don’t ask me to elaborate because I think that’s another discussion for another comments section on another site.

    2. Arno

      In the book Many years from now Paul claims that he got inspiration for the song based in his mind on Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. “Songs like You’ve really got a hold on me and Tears of a clown had really been a big influence”. I don’t think Paul lies, but this song was first released in 1967 meaning that it couldn’t be the inspiration. Well Paul dreamed Yesterday and now he dreams that Smokey R. in 2-3 years time will compose and release Tears of a clown. Paul thought “I better use this as the inspiration for In my life, that John can’t figure out”. Well somethings goes wrong and in Many years Barry Miles claims that only two songs composed by John and Paul had a disagreement: In my life and Eleanor Rigby. John told his story to Rolling Stone in late 1970 5 years after the song was done and he was 35 and Paul told his version to Barry Miles in 1997, 32 after the song was done and Paul at this time was 55. Well you remember much better being young and much better if the story is new. So better trust John than Paul. Strange that nobody has discovered this mistake by Paul. And Tears of a clown don’t sounds like an inspiration for In my life.

      1. Ensign

        What about “The Tracks of My Tears?” That song had come out earlier in 1965 and I would be willing to believe that McCartney had gotten the song titles mixed up. Personally if someone told me (s)he felt that song might have been an influence, I would not have a counterargument to make.

  1. AlbertCunning

    “The middle eight was left without a solo, as the group was undecided as to how it should sound. This dilemma was solved on 22 October by George Martin.”

    There is obviously some confusion to what John referred to when talking about the “middle eight” for this song; or indeed middle eights in general.

    ‘In My Life’, in strict musical terms, really has no middle eight, and the section over which George Martin wrote and played a piano solo is really just the main verse of the song; or the first half of the verse, depending on how you view the sections to which Paul certainly contributed the music: “All these places have their moments…”/”Though I know I’ll never lose affection…”

    I’ve heard some refer to Paul’s sections* as extended choruses.

    I’ll go for that.

    The solo is perhaps the BRIDGE?
    Or perhaps George Martin just gave us all a BREAK?

    * [The ones John admitted Paul provided. Paul claims to have written the entire tune(melody), but that’s the only real dispute between them when it comes to this song.]

    1. James

      You have to remember john and paul were very influenced by tin pan alley. Which used the aaba style of songwriting. I believe john is just using ‘middle eight’ as ANY what we would call today ‘break’ or ‘bridge.’

      I think songwriters would know what he means. The middle eight was where you’d have a key change and i can see why people began to call it a bridge(between two identical parts of the song, he’s a break, or a bridge to get you to the other side). On the flip side, I often hear musicians nowadays just use bridge to describe any instrumental break.

      It’s merely semantics, which anyone with a knowledge of song, especially the Great American Songbook would know, and understate regardless of the songs actual structure.

      I’ve just read the term ‘bridge’ came into the English musical language in the 30s when German composers brought the term with them after fleeing the Nazis. So it’s entirely possible that the term wasn’t in the lexicon when John and Paul started writing, and they stated with the terminology they knew when they learned to write.

      1. John

        I’ve never thought of the Beatles, in their formative years, as being influenced by tin pan alley at all … and don’t imagine they ever hung out listening to Gershwin or Berlin (whom they’d surpass in no time flat). The only Great American Songbook they ever read had characters with names like Berry, Richard and Holly in it. And the then-current ‘Brill Bld.’ would have been a presence they’d have been aware of.

        1. robert

          There’s no doubt the Beatles were influenced by Tin Pan Alley since that is the music the heard in their homes growing up.

          In the same way I have been influenced by the music my parents listened to even though it wasn’t the music I specifically listened to myself.

          Proof of this is When I’m 64 which Paul wrote as a teenager and is Tin Pan Alley all the way. Showing his influences when he was younger.

          A middle eight is eight bars of music (and lyric) that is neither the verse nor the chorus. It usually comes somewhat in “the middle” of the song and is used to “bridge” two ideas of the song together.

          In We Can Work It Out – the “Life is very short and there’s no time” is a perfect example of a Beatle middle eight – used to bridge the ideas expressed in the verse (Try to see it my way) and the chorus (We can work it out).

          Essentially a bridge and middle eight are the same thing and John used the terms interchangeably.

        2. Michael

          Sorry, but anyone who thinks Lennon and McCartney surpassed George Gershwin is overlooking some serious compositions. For example, just listen to “Rhapsody in Blue” and find me ANYTHING the Beatles wrote that comes close. The Beatles were the best of the pop genre, but they never crossed over into more serious musical areas.

          1. Joseph Brush

            Sorry, but the above comment is an example of the pseudo intellectual nonsense that existed and still exists after rock and roll burst upon the scene.
            As for ANYTHING serious, well how about Day In The Life, Revolution, All You Need Is Love, For No One, and Eleanor Rigby for a start.
            George Gershwin never had to function in the global fishbowl existence that the Beatles lived in. As if only great music comes from New York and Tin Pan Alley.
            By the way, let’s hear George Gershwin sing.

          2. robert

            Well I’d say your statement is somewhat contradicted by the fact that in 2010 Paul McCartney was the 3rd recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (and I now quote) “The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team … The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.”

            So I guess SOMEONE puts them at that level or at least thinks they came close.

            1. Some guy

              Like millions of others, I love Gershwin and the Beatles.

              Arguing about who is “best” is as pointless as arguing over which is the “best” flavour of ice cream!

  2. Simon

    Who wrote the music?: Why does Paul say “As I recall …” and “I don’t want t be categorical about it”? Either he remembers or he doesn’t right?

    The opening of the melody sounds like the solo to Hard Day’s NIght. The rest of the phrase sounds like I’ll be Back, a bit. The release bit has chords like the verse to Every Little Thing; in fact the opening melody sounds a bit like Every Little Thing too. These are all Lennon songs.

    But the melody is neat like McCartney’s, so maybe it was Paul “writing John”.

    1. AlbertCunning

      ‘Every Little Thing’ is a song written mainly by Paul. John only took half-credit for it in his interview with Hit Parader in 1972. In the Playboy interview in 1980, he basically attributed it directly to Paul.

      Paul claims to have been in on the writing of ‘I’ll Be Back’ as well, but ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is pretty much 100% John.

      John admitted Paul was in on the writing of ‘In My Life’.
      Paul claims to have written the entire tune — again, meaning melody.

      The truth probably lies somewhere in-between.

      1. 2much4mymirror

        Paul cites music theorist Ian MacDonald, author of a book of Beatles anlysis called “Revolution in the Head,” in defense of his claim to the melody. It seems it shares the “angular verticality” he claims is a hallmark of Paul’s melodies, a phrase which reminds me of the “aeolian cadence” phrase some music theorist famously applied to “All I Want To Do.” The music theorists always liked Paul better. Fans of soul, and passionate intensity side with John.

          1. 2much4mymirror

            Wow. That’s surprising since I got the impression he was biased a bit towards Paul. The second edition was published in 1997, the same year as McCartney’s biography with his 100% claim about the “In My Life” melody. And the third edition came out posthumously in 2005? Did MacDonald say what led him to revise his original opinion? I had been inclined to accept Paul’s version simply because John often changed his story.

            1. Lou

              On the other hand, the chromatic descent, via the minor subdominant, in the second half of the verse suggests Lennon. Perhaps McCartney did the first half of the verse, Lennon the second?” Therefore, maybe John did have a hand in the melody as he always insisted.

              1. 2much4mymirror

                Thanks for the interesting quote, Lou. But I’m trying to think what he means by the “second half of the verse.” Didn’t MacDonald take issue with Lennon’s termiology by saying, “There is no middle eight. It’s just one long extended verse”? So is he referring to melody for “All these places had their moments with lovers and friend…” section? That would be ironic since this is the part John credited Paul with. Or is he suggesting that Paul wrote the melody for “There are places I’ll remember…” and for that whole “middle section” and John only wrote that short descending bit “all my life though some have changed”? If so, that ain’t much of a concession.

              2. Lou

                He doesn’t say anything more about that song so I don’t know.He just added that comment.

                But I do know that Lennon compared this song with If I Fell, and even on his demo that great melody has something alike.

              3. Some guy

                Strongly agree! The minor subdominant was one of John’s favourite chord choices. ( eg, using F minor in a C major song.)


                My theory, and I’m open to argument on this, is that John learned this chord pattern from his mother, Julia Lennon, when she first taught him some of her favourite tunes on her banjo.

                One of these tunes was a great old song by a great American tin pan alley songwriter named Walter Donaldson entitled “Little White Lies” which contains this very chord pattern.

                Listen to the song on YouTube and you’ll hear what I mean.


                To me, “In My Life”, whether consciously or unconsciously, expresses John’s feelings for his mother… “In my life, I love you more…”

                Who else would “you” be?

                And what could be more natural than for him to use this little chord device that he had actually learned from his mother?

        1. BeatleBug

          Actually it was “Not a Second Time”, not “All I’ve Got to Do”, that had Aeolian cadences and flat-submediant key switches. But yeah, vertical angularity does sound in the same vein.

  3. SD

    Basic track:
    1) Ringo’s drums, Pauls’s bass, Georges’ lead and Lennon’s soft Casino guitars plus tambourine (by Martin?)

    2) John’s lead vocal and Paul’s harmony
    3) Lennon’s double-tracked vocal with backing by Paul and George
    4) Martin’s “wind-up” piano

    1. Joe Post author

      Thanks. I’ve attributed the tambourine to George M, though if anyone has a definite answer I’d appreciate the info.

      The stereo version, where the basic backing can be isolated in the left speaker, shows how masterfully understated The Beatles’ performance was. It really is a perfect arrangement.

  4. Norman Therun

    John was humble when he said he was just shouting rock & roll. John is actually the greatest composer of love songs all time. Who could beat songs like In My Life, Julia, Oh My Love, Jealous Guy and Woman. And he wrote great anthems like Imagine and Give Peace A Chance.

  5. scott

    Does it REALLY matter who wrote what, who added what line, word, syllable, letter, sound, who laughed, breathed, blinked or clapped? It’s a Beatles song and it’s great!

    1. jennifur Sun

      and as a lot of us get older we cn really appreciate the lyrics to the song. for some reason i think it is Johns lyrics not Pauls, but greatful for whomever was the true writer

  6. brian

    My guess is that Paul probably did write most of the tune to this truly excellent song as he has stated in his recollection in the book “Many Years From Now”. In recalling it he remarks ” I don’t want to be categorical about this…” probably because to state unequivicably that he wrote the tune would, in effect, be calling John a liar – something he was averse to doing.
    John for his part wrote the lyrics, probably had some smaller contribution to the music. It’s truly a Lennon/McCartney song!

  7. Maxwell

    In My Life is an important song in the turning point of the Beatle’s music.
    So it is important to establish the authorship of the melody.

    To me, the rule of thumb in Beatles songs is whoever sings the song is also the song writer. Since Lennon was the one who sang it, there is little doubt that the song was largely written by Lennon.

    If Paul McCartney wrote the tune to it, then why didn’t he stake his claim to it first.

    Why believe in Paul’s recollection and not Lennon? Just because Paul is known for his romantic and love ballads….

    Lennon said that he wrote the lyrics and sang it first. This means he had also wrote the melody to it.
    As musician, do you think it is possible for Lennon to write a song with just its lyrics without any accompanying melody—I find it hard to believe that Lennon just wrote lyrics and leave it at that.
    Hey you are talking about the maestro of music…..

    Why is it so hard to believe in Lennon?

    Is it just because Paul said when you analyses In My Life, you can find alot of ‘him’ in it….

    To me In My Life is the product of Lennon’s genius, who to me is always the more superior song writer.

    1. Deadman

      “… the rule of thumb in Beatles songs is whoever sings the song is also the song writer.”
      In the majority of cases, true, but not always. Notice, for instance that John would have sung lead on Love Me Do except for George Martin’s suggestion that John play harmonica.

      “Lennon said that he wrote the lyrics and sang it first. This means he had also wrote the melody to it.”
      That does not necessarily follow. For all we know, Paul might have hummed the tune to John just as he had hummed the tune of Yesterday to anybody who’d listen long before he wrote the lyrics.

      “As [a] musician, do you think it is possible for Lennon to write a song with just its lyrics without any accompanying melody…”
      Yes, easily. He wrote other verses without setting them to music.

      “… I find it hard to believe that Lennon just wrote lyrics and leave it at that.”
      Nonetheless, songwriters do sometimes write lyrics first, melody second, then melody first and lyrics second, or simultaneously. Sometimes songwriters will even write a verse, set it to music, then write additional verses to fit; in effect, writing lyrics first and third and melody second.

      “Why is it so hard to believe in Lennon?”
      Perhaps because sometimes his iconoclastic and revisionist pronouncements can be completely self-contradictory.

      Few claim that Paul wrote all the melody, and many claim that the song is John’s with significant melodic input from Paul. John admits that Paul helped; Paul considers the melody mainly his.
      My take, which accepts that both John and Paul are for the most part recalling things honestly, is that John had the basics of the tune, where it naturally rose and fell to the words and chords, which Paul then made more melodic with the addition also of new melody and chord changes; and, therefore, because the finished tune was mainly his redaction, he remembers it as his work.

      1. Joe Post author

        John Lennon often wrote lyrics first then set them to music. I think it might even have been his usual way of working in the mid 1960s. It often led to interesting meters in his songs – for example Good Morning Good Morning, which was certainly a set of lyrics written before the music.

        1. 2much4mymirror

          There must be more examples of one of them singing lead on the other’s song, but I can only think of “Every Little Thing,” which John sang lead on though Paul wrote it, and the middle of “A Hard Day’s Night” which John said Paul only sang because he couldn’t hit the notes.
          Did anyone see the PBS “American Masters” Documentary “John Lennon NYC” about the nine years Lennon spent mainly in New York? There’s some fascinating stuff in there about how Lennon often made crucial revisions to both melody and lyrics at the last minute in the studio. One of the most interesting examples was “Mind Games.” I think he often did this with Beatles songs as well. One of John’s finest moments as a vocalist almost didn’t happen. On “This Boy,” John added that knockout middle at the last minute. It was originally supposed to be a guitar solo!
          The PBS documentary is must-see for Lennon fans.

    1. Joe Post author

      Me too. Unfortunately the tape of the Candlestick Park concert (Brian Epstein asked Tony Barrow to record it) cuts out during Long Tall Sally, the final song, so unless an audience member happened to be recording it, we’ll never hear it!

      The Beatles’ final concert is easily available on file sharing networks, and is well worth a listen. There’s some info on the concert here.

  8. Maxwell

    Dear Deadman,

    Thanks for the interesting input.

    I am a big fan of the Beatles but I have not read as much as you have on the genesis of their songs.
    I read the Hunter Davies biography many many many years ago.
    But the book was good on their early days and not so much as a source on the origins of their compositions.
    I read parts of the interview John gave to Playboy before he was assasinated.
    That was helpful.

    The controversy over ‘In My Life’ brings up a seldom discuss issue which Barry has earlier brought up.

    Barry says: ‘The issue regarding who wrote the music (melody) brings up a concept that doesn’t seem to ever have been addressed:
    are there any songs where the music was mainly written by a Beatle who didn’t write the lyrics? (for example a song where Paul wrote the lyrics and John wrote the music). Seems as if the main lyricist wrote all the music. Anybody who could shed some light on this matter?’.

    I don’t think in the case of Lennon/McCartney compositions, there are regular cases where Lennon wrote the lyrics and Paul just the music.
    Not like say in the case of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

    As you said: John could have written the lyrics first and set the basic tune, while Paul fine tuned the melody and add chords to it.

    This seems to be the more likely scenario.

    But it is different from the one that Paul wanted us to believe–which is that John wrote the lyrics and he the music.

    Did John ever revise his statements on his role in writing In My Life?

    To me, because he had a big role in writing the song, that is why he could remember it as the song signifying the turn of his musical career.

    According to John:
    ‘There was a period when I thought I didn’t write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock ‘n’ roll. But of course, when I think of some of my own songs – In My Life, or some of the early stuff, This Boy – I was writing melody with the best of them.

    John continues:

    ‘It was, I think, my first real major piece of work. Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throw-away. And that was the first time I consciously put my literary part of myself into the lyric’.

    These word are enough to convince me that John has a major part in writing In My Life (word and basic melody) –though he receive help from Paul, who as you said fine tuned the song by making it more melodic.

    1. Emily

      I trust John here. He wasn’t crazy. He was actually quite honest about his songs, and a song as special as “In My Life” would definitely be in his memory and he wouldn’t try to rip Paul’s credit from him. I get annoyed because, in Paul’s book, he tries to make it seem he did everything and he was responsible for this and that. I think he felt defensive because of John’s position after his death, and “In My Life” was named one of the greatest songs ever so Paul was like, “Ahh yes, I had a part in that!”

      In any case, John was very vocal about that song. He mentioned it many times. There was a radio interview and he mentioned it. I tend to think that if Paul was really THAT responsible for the song, he would have sung lead. I mean, he had actually said he wrote most of the lyrics and whatnot, so why didn’t he sing lead? Obviously because it was mainly John’s song.

      In this case, it’s easy for people to side with Paul. They think, “Paul was the melodic genius” and he was this and that and John wasn’t really melodic…but love them both as I do, I think it’s unfair the way people belittle John’s abilities. This song is a shining example of him shining as a songwriter. When George Martin discusses the song, he refers to John not knowing what to do in the middle part…so obviously he is saying it was mainly JOHN’S song.

      No one is perfect. Even the ever-so-perfect-to-most’s-eyes Paul is allowed to forget and exaggerate and over-credit himself.

      I mean, look on youtube for the George interview where he claims that he wrote lyrics for “Eleanor Rigby,” Didn’t paul claim their were all his? It’s easy to do…

      1. paulsbass

        “I mean, he had actually said he wrote most of the lyrics and whatnot”

        Sorry Emily, Paul NEVER said that. Or where’s your quote? It’s ok to be biased towards one Beatle or another (I’m a Paul), but telling li…, being inaccurate to make one of them look bad isn’t nice.

        I will never understand how some people find “Many years from now” to be Paul’s ego-trip.
        If you read it with an open mind (maybe NOT being a Lennonista helps) you’ll find that he’s in fact quite humble and correct in describing who wrote what.
        And it nice how he says that it’s “gratifying” that John and he disagree over two songs only, out of more than 150.

        1. mr. Sun king coming together

          Not everyone who isn’t a Macca fan is a Lennonista. As a fan of all 4 (no preferences), I think Paul comes off as arrogant.

      2. Ray

        I’ve been trying to look into Emily’s claim of McCartney once saying he wrote “most of the lyrics,” which certainly wasn’t in “Many Years From Now.” I wondered if maybe she had read it somewhere else, because I do remember coming across the claim somewhere on the forum here. I haven’t been here for a while so I can’t remember where in the forum I read it but I can recall that the source was not definitively proven which made me question the reliability of the person who posted (nothing personal).

        I never found anything else coming close to supporting Emily’s claim. I personally do not believe it to be accurate but I am open to any claims to the contrary here if there is anyone out there who can verify any source claiming that McCartney actually did make that claim at any point. Maybe Joe?

  9. Stacie

    I tend to believe that Paul did write the tune for this song. First, John’s own recollection doesn’t make much sense. He says Paul wrote the “middle-eight,” but there isn’t any separate middle eight melody – it’s the same basic melody throughout. So if Paul wrote the melody of the bridge, that means he wrote the entire melody of the song.

    Second, musicologist Ian MacDonald analyzed the song & concluded that the melody follows the typical McCartney style rather than the Lennon style.

    Finally, when Paul thinks it’s “off the record,” he’s much more insistent that this was his melody, & even seems hurt that John took the credit. In The Beatles bio, Paul said John “also forgot completely that I wrote the tune for ‘In My Life’. That was my tune. But perhaps he just made a mistake on that. Forgot.”

    Overall, the evidence seems to support that Paul wrote the melody to John’s lyrics.

    1. frank

      “recollection doesn’t make much sense. He says Paul wrote the “middle-eight,” but there isn’t any separate middle eight melody – it’s the same basic melody throughout. So if Paul wrote the melody of the bridge, that means he wrote the entire melody of the song.”

      I’m guessing the middle-eight or chorus part Lennon is referring to is likely the, ” I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life i loved you more” the “I know I’ll often stop and think about them” sounds like something Paul might write, and very Motown as Paul himself stated.

    2. appmanga

      What John calls a “middle eight” is apparently the bridge (“All these places have their moments…”), which is a separate melody from the main verses. And a think Paul is mistaken in his recollections, it’s not like John had never written a comparable melody to this.

  10. Dan

    Paul first claimed to have written the music to In My Life in a 1975 interview. John was still very much alive and Paul cited it as an example of a co-written song of theirs. Paul has consistently said he wrote the melody and opening riff and I, for one, believe him.

    1. Emily

      I don’t. I think that he exaggerated his input to that song, in my opinion. John was fiercely proud of “In My Life,” as it is imo a better song than many of their hits such as “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be.” It’s very special and gorgeous in a way those two aren’t quite so. So Paul probably felt that he deserved more credit for that song and exaggerated his input, but it’s mainly John’s song.

      1. Richard Boene

        Okay, but just because you believe that McCartney consciously exaggerated his input to this song doesn’t automatically mean that it’s actually true. And those who disagree with you are probably not going to be convinced that your opinion is supported by much else that your obvious admiration for Lennon (not that there’s anything morally wrong with that). The simple truth of the matter is that none of us were there to witness the writing of the song for ourselves so we can never truly “know” who wrote what. We can only form our own personal conclusions. Or we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the song for what it is.

        I agree with you on “Hey Jude” (though I do like the song) but I disagree on “Let It Be.”

  11. Beatless

    I think the mystery of the songwriting credits as well as the mystery of who played what is part of what’s interesting about the Beatles’ legacy.

    Part of what made the Beatles great was their versatility, and I think their willingness to collaborate and experiment was a part of this.

    In most other groups each member’s role was fairly well-defined (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Anyway, I’m not into this whole Team John versus Team Paul thing: I’m Team Beatles. Both John and Paul were humans, albeit very talented ones, who faced the same challenges many of us face in our friendships and working partnerships.

    1. julio

      This is John’s song with a little fine tuning by Paul in the middle eight (Which is “but of all these friends and lovers, there is no one who compares with you” verse. I believe Paul worked hard on this one by himself and because of that began to feel the entire tune was his. This is funny because in the Paul vs. John thing, Paul seems to want to take credit for everything and John usually puts himself down or call his own work garbage.

  12. mr. Sun king coming together

    Is it possible that Lennon meant the middle eight as a way to say McCartney’s contribution was limited? Not that I believe Lennon’s story entirely
    Any Theories?

  13. robert

    One thing I‘ve learned – there are three sides to every story: what one person says happened, what the other person says happened and what REALLY happened. We can be sure the story on this song lies somewhere in between John and Paul’s separate versions.

    The bigger question, to me at least, is what constitutes a “contribution”? As a songwriter myself who worked steadily for years with a partner (and no, I am in NO WAY comparing myself to the amazing Beatles) I can suggest this – just having a co-writer in the room changes how one composes a song.

    You become much more critical and even competitive (in a good way – something both John and Paul acknowledge). Also, in the free flow of ideas it becomes almost impossible to pinpoint the true genesis of a phrase or melody or even a beat – the addition of which could have taken the song to areas it never would have gone otherwise.

    One idea spurs on another – so where did the original idea even begin?

    I think what matters most now, is that by 1980 both John and Paul were beginning to realize that they did their best work together.

    Read the following excerpt from an interview with Playboy:

    PLAYBOY: “But wasn’t it clear that John wanted only to work with Yoko?”

    LINDA: “No. I know that Paul was desperate to write with John again. And I know John was desperate to write. Desperate. People thought, Well, he’s taking care of Sean, he’s a househusband and all that, but he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t write and it drove him crazy. And Paul could have helped him… easily.”

    When you combine recent interviews with Jack Douglas about John’s intention to begin working again with Paul, it is clear ‘who wrote what’ matters more to us than to them.

      1. robert

        uhm .. it’s pretty common knowledge that Paul and Linda were frequent guests at the Dakato during John’s last years. John has said so, Yoko has said so, Bob Gruen (the photographer) was there when the McCartneys visited – so my guess is Linda’s “insider information” was probably her first hand observation.

        Having never visited with John and Yoko during that period, I tend to think that her assessment (and possibly conversations with Paul) probably has some merit.

        I could be wrong.

        1. vonbontee

          Hm, OK, fair enough – “common knowledge” to everybody but me I guess! I didn’t realize the McCartneys & Lennons socialized much in those years, particularly since they were on different continents, and the wives hated one another. (Didn’t they?)

          And yeah, “inside information” would include first- or second-hand direct observation, which is what I implied.

          1. robert

            Paul and John hung out together in LA. I believe at three times are documented. John was planning to visit the McCartney’s in New Orleans in the late ’70s. The plan was to begin working together again. Yoko sabotaged that visit.

            Before he died John was planning on working with Paul on Ringo’s new album (Jack Douglas interview).

            So I think John was ready.

  14. Emily

    I trust John’s explanation. I think Paul helped with the melody in the lines like “with lovers and friends I still can recall” but all the “there are places I remember, all my liiiffee” is so John to me. Plus, John claimed this song as his all the way back when the Beatles had just disbanded, and again in a radio interview in 1973. If Paul and him were at such odds, Paul coudl have called him out about it. I think John’s BFF Pete Shotten, in his book, write about John composing this song around him. In any case, I identify it as a John song. On the lyrics, his name is the only name on the lyric. All the people who were around when he wrote it- Pete and Cynthia- claim that HE wrote the lyrics, and then Paul stated something about him writing the lyrics.

    An interview with Paul in “Reader’s Digest” basically he says, “forget it.” So I will because this is a song I definitely think sounds WAY more like a John song than a Paul one.

    But in any case, they helped each other out. People have to be out of their minds if they don’t recognize how much John helped Paul, lyrically AND musically with some of his songs. It’s always said the other way around but there’s too many examples of John helping Paul if you actually read their descriptions.

    1. paulsbass

      Thank God it’s a free forum and everyone can believe what they want!
      So if you want to believe that Paul was the one who exaggerated stuff – so be it!

      But it would be nice if you’d recognize that Paul was talking about writing the MELODY, not the lyrics to “In my life”!

      So many words for such a small point seem such a waste to me, but again, this is a free forum (mostly!).

    2. Sebastian Mora

      In fact, Paul always has fight for the credit for the tune of In My life. McCartney said to The Hit Parader in 1972 and Rolling Stone in 1973 that In my Life was his tune and Lennon wrote the words. I’ts funny how people say that Paul is lying, only because they like Lennon better, you weren’t there, so Paul could be telling the true.. I usually find Lennon’s commments more egostic, inconsistent and less convincing than Paul´s, but I dont say John is cleary and undenaibly lying, I wasn’t there writing with them.

      1. Facundo

        I really see it as a joint effort. The first verse (“There are places I’ll remember”) uses a pentatonic melody over the A scale without using any half-tone interval, something very Lennon-ish (see, for example, Child of Nature/Jealous Guy) and the second verse (“All my life though some have changed”) uses a I – IVm harmony something kinda Lennon trademark (a beautiful transition used in many of his songs, ex: Nowhere Man).
        The second part, what John called “middle-eight” it’s kinda McCartney for me (although everybody says the opposite) with its angular verticality (like McDonald said) going from a high E to a low E (covering a complete scale)

        1. Pablo Castro

          I totally agree. In My Life´s initial melody is totally pentatonic, like, for instance, All i´ve Got to Do, and Lennon´s melodies are very more frequently based on pentatonic´s scales. Paul´s contribution might be the finishing touches on the “for people and things that went before” , where his melodic jumps make more sense.

          It´s generally a Lennon song, no doubt about it . Actually, I defy anyone to cite an only example in all the Beatles Catalogue where Lennon wrote only the lyrics and McCartney only the music, or vice-versa. Their colaboration didn´t work that way. Both of them wrote both lyrics and music and the other partner would help in some aspects of the song, as did the other Beatles on some aspects on the arrangement.

  15. Tweeze

    So much dispute over who wrote what. I suppose when you’ve written a song with a partner and are then asked 20 years later to cite who wrote what you can sympathize with John and Paul’s predicament. I have done this and it is revealing what I remember versus what actually was.
    What we know from their own words is that he who wrote the bulk or who had the idea was the one who ended up singing it. No one really disputes that it was John’s idea. He doesn’t even say that Paul didn’t write on it but does tend to diminish his contribution to something he called ‘the middle eight’, which really doesn’t exist in this song. But do recall, our boys were NOT trained musicians. Using the term ‘middle eight’ could mean a broader term for explaining ones work in the middle part of the song rather than the strict definition brandished by musical scholars. Raise your hand if you’re a musical scholar who has written a popular hit song! Yeah, I thought so.
    Meanwhile by the sheer benefit of being alive Paul gets to second guess and ‘set the record straight’. It astounds me how Paul inflates his influence in the songs normally attributed to John. Is he wrong? I dunno. To hear Paul one would think John rarely wrote 100% of anything. I do find it a bit difficult to believe that Paul would have necessarily let John get away with singing ‘In My Life’ without at least having a version of his own lying around. But no. And all of those years since Paul hasn’t tried to resurrect this gem when he finally decided it was okay to do Beatle songs at his concerts.
    But, there are certain qualities to the melody which are NOT McCartney trademarks that are very much Lennon’s. Check it out : John has always made very frequent use of modulating syllable – that is, for example, ‘In My-i-hi-hi Life’ and ‘some are de-head a-hend su-hum ar-har living’. See ‘Not A Second Time’ for a good course 101 on this. Paul next to never does this.
    My lunch time is over but I thought I’d throw these two-cents in. In the wash, I very much believe it is more co-written than either of them remembered. And while Paul could occasionally come up with the good lyric, I side with John for the bulk of these because I’ve seen what both can do on their own.

  16. apple_jam

    In 1970 (Rolling Stone interview) Lennon said that he wrote it – with a little help from McCartney in the middle eight. Being that it was only 5 years or so after the song was written and recorded, I tend to believe Lennon.

    1. brian

      The “middle eight” of In My Life is George Martin’s sped up keyboard solo and I imagine George pretty much pieced that together himself. My guess is that John wrote nearly all the lyrics and Paul contributed heavily to composing the music – it’s an awesome song.

  17. John

    Middle eight? There is no middle eight in this song, regardless of who said there was. George Martin played a wonderful solo, but aside from his creative input, that wouldn’t have required any additional “writing” as it was just a repeat of the verse chord progression. Lennon had the occasional lapse in memory.

  18. Me

    I think the melody has a, ‘Live and Let Die’ sound to it, so I’m going with Paul……….and there were mellotrons in ’65.  Check facts before speaking Unomyname

  19. apple_jam

    The melody of the line “There are places I remember…” remind me an awful lot of the melody of the chorus of “Strawberry fields forever…” I’m going to go with Lennon.

  20. Len Poggiali

    Shakes says:

    Whenever I’ve written a song, while I am writing the lyrics, I am singing them to a basic tune. Lennon showed that he was like this in the IMAGINE film when he hums the basic tune to the title song when he is introducing the song to his crew. I can imagine (no pun intended) him introducing “In My Life” the same way.
    Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim (“Send in the Clowns”) in his book, FINISHING THE HAT, refers to the process in which he as lyricist co-wrote one of the WEST SIDE STORY songs: “…”‘A Boy Like That’ is the only occasion when I wrote a lyric first and Lenny (Leonard Bernstein) set it exactly the way it was handed to him…” When the lyric is written first, the lyricist most likely will have a basic melody in mind. In addition the structure of the lyric will strongly influence the composer in setting down the finished music. In the case of “In My Life,” I would estimate 70% Lennon, 25% McCartney and 5% Martin.

  21. Michael B

    As has been noted, oh, a thousand and six times already, John and Paul agree that Paul helped with the melody. The lyrics are John’s. The unresolved question involves the extent of John’s and Paul’s respective contributions to the music. Here’s an admittedly imperfect clue for guiding our thinking. This was an intensely personal and meaningful song to John, and it would have been perfectly legitimate–and sensible–had he sung it purely as as solo had he written the song by himself. After all, he’s singing about *his* life. Such a decision would be consistent with other songs of the period such as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Girl,” in which Paul and George may have sung backing vocals but contributed little, if any, harmony. (And the same holds for John with Yesterday.) Contrast this with Norwegian Wood, in which John credits Paul as contributing to the middle eight–and, lo and behold, it’s on this section–and this section only–where we hear Paul singing harmony with John. So as a general guideline for John’s personal songs at this time, it seems true that Paul contributes to harmony when Paul has contributed to the song in a meaningful way. So my theory for In My Life is this: Paul sings harmony with John on those sections he contributed to melodically. Which is to say about (approximately) 60% of the song. This is consistent with John still thinking of it as *his* song. The lyrics are his, and he had an important contribution to the music. Paul also has strong reason to think of it as a Lennon-McCartney composition because without his contributions it would likely be a different and less outstanding song. (The reverse situation holds true in “With a Little Help from My Friends.” John’s contributions were significantly less than 50%, but there’s little doubt that it was genuinely a co-written song. Without John’s contribution and presence, the song would have still existed but would have been significantly different and less outstanding.)

    Lyrics: John
    Music: Paul and John (and Martin)

    In short: a Lennon-McCartney composition about John’s life.

    1. jimbo

      I don’t care who wrote what – though I do detect an awful lot of Paul. But George M’s piano solo is a bit of a distraction for me. The last phrase just sounds so rushed and ungainly. I’m sure it would sound lovely at half speed. But at this tempo? It’s like a harpsichord falling down the stairs.

      1. James Ferrell

        I agree completely. The famous baroque-ish solo starts out okay, but its bizarrely zippy ending slams into next section very awkwardly. Clever though it might have seemed to write something sort of classical and record it half speed, I think the result is bad. The solo doesn’t fit the song.

  22. Jay

    When I was a 4-year old boy, I always hear this song/record played by my aunt on a phonograph/record player. I’ve been always struck then by the piano solo. It was so remarkable, I almost memorized the tune on my head as years passed by & didn’t realized that it was George Martin who did it.

  23. Margot

    The following McCartney quote (referring to “I Saw Her Standing There”) supports the notion that Lennon, being the lyricist of “In My Life”, would have had the basic tune before bringing the song to McCartney for his help. McCartney says ” I Saw Her Standing There was my original, I’d started it and I had the first verse, which therefore gave me the tune, the tempo and the key. It gave you the subject matter, a lot of the information, and then you had to fill in… It was co-written, my idea, and we finished it that day.” McCartney often states that he and Lennon co-wrote many of Lennon’s and his songs; however, what he actually seems to mean is that each contributed to the other’s composition with some words, some musical ideas or whatnot. If we accept McCartney’s use of “co-written,” then perhaps George or Ringo (and certainly George Martin) could claim “co-authorship” of a few Lennon, McCartney or Lennon/McCartney songs as well. Conclusion: “In My Life” was written by Lennon with McCartney as “I Saw Her Standing There” was written by McCartney with Lennon. The Lennon/McCartney designation should only be used for joint compositions such as “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

  24. Mikey Price

    When I first heard In My Life (when I was 14) I loved how John sang “Of’n stop’n think about them” and I used to wait for that bit. I find I still do.

  25. Ted de Best

    Just sing the first verse of ‘Let it be’ over the chordchanges … sounds very ‘Paul’ to me. Probably Lennon had melody ‘more or less’ and McCartney rearranged the song McCartneystyle. This all still early on… when they were still swapping ideas and working on each others songs.

  26. Jennifer

    This is at or near the very top on my list of favorite Beatles songs. I’ve always thought of it as a John song because John sings it. I believe that he wrote the lyrics and had a general sense of what the melody would sound like. I also believe, as others do, that Paul did quite a bit of fine-tuning to the melody. Perhaps neither lad was “lying” nor inflating his own contributions; rather, perhaps, John views having a general sense of the melody, in his mind, as having written the melody. Paul, perhaps, views his purported “reworking” (?) of the melody (we can’t know to what extent this was done) as having more or less written it. Who’s to say?

    With regard to the song itself, it’s a beauty. There is something so touching and sweet about the “angry” Beatle writing this lovely paean to the past (and to whomever the “you” he’s addressing in the song might happen to be). I’m not sure if I have the musical vocabulary to describe some of my favorite bits… but the way it finishes by visiting the opening riff, but then does that little climb up an octave toward the root note in the chord? I just love how round, full, and complete that makes the song feel.

    The whole John vs. Paul thing is quite exhausting. I suspect many of us who have a favorite do not base the distinction on who was “better” or who had more innate talent or anything like that – they were both absolutely fantastic or we wouldn’t be here. It seems to me more that it’s a case of Paul or John resonating with an individual for some reason or another. Paul has always resonated more with me because I tend to be an optimist and I tend to wax nostalgic, so I identify more with so many of his songs. That’s not to say that John wasn’t capable of writing or performing songs that I adore, because there are scores of them like that. This song is definitely one example. Oddly enough, in overall tone and feel (i.e., the gentle, nostalgic, “looking back” aspects) it’s more of a Paul song, whereas one of my favorite Paul songs (“Oh! Darling”) is more of a John song in tone and feel (i.e., the direct, soul baring, vocal cord shredding aspects). Perhaps they were at their best when they were most like the other – Paul’s sweetness and optimism tempered with John’s honesty and passion, and vice versa.

    Just some thoughts. Take them or leave them.

  27. Gary Hoopengardner Sr.

    Wow! Interesting discussion. This is John’s work. The middle eight actually is the instrumental part referring to music that was suggested to be played by George Martin. The bridge is just the bridge, Paul suggested many bridge ideas but in this case it was John’s second complete full work. (But, this is my opinion).

  28. SP25

    Agree, a fascinating discussion, thanks all.

    My personal opinion: In most of what I have read in John’s interviews, his memory is often pretty faulty, maybe due to whatever chemicals he was ingesting in the ’60s. Therefore, I tend to agree to what appears to be the consensus, that John wrote the lyrics and had the start to a melody, and Paul helped him finish it off and added harmonies (which are prominent in the recording). A lovely song, one of the few that I can play on my guitar!

  29. Rene

    I have always thought of this as a John song with Paul helping out – as it were. A very personal song John would not claim it as his song – no matter how many drugs he ingested in the 60s – without credence to his claim. A tender and nostalgic tune, some might feel that Paul had more of a hand in contributing to the tune than I tend to think that he actually did. A Lennon song with a little help from his friends…

  30. Martijn

    There’s no way we are ever gonna find out whether the melody was written by John or Paul, neither by analyzing what they said about it or by analyzing the song musically.
    John’s memory was notoriously flawed (in an interview with Rolling Stone he once asked: “Can you tell me whether that white album with the drawing by Voorman on it, was that before “Rubber Soul” or after?”). Paul’s memory in general seems more reliable. On the other hand, Paul has the slightly annoying habit of claiming songs that are generally seen as his as solo efforts, while he usually states that he made contributions to songs that are generally seen as John’s. I wasn’t there, so I can’t judge, but if Paul is really right about all this, at times you would begin to believe he more or less was The Beatles. Besides that, John’s recollections about his own songs are usually more similar to those of third parties like George Martin. To give one example out of many: Paul said he collaborated on Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! Possible, but why does George Martin tegard it as John’s song then? If it was really co-written, wouldn’t they have entered the studio saying: “look, we wrote this song together”?

    Musically, there is also no real way to find out who wrote what. I understand Ian McDonald’s thoughts, yet he was just speculating. The way the opening melody ascends, with some side steps, sounds quite like Paul. But the same melody is also slightly reminiscent of the opening of John’s Revolution.

    In the end it’s quite funny that all this fuss is about just a few lines. The “middle eight” (and it’s obvious what John meant with this: the part starting with “all these places have their moments”) probably was Paul’s, they both seem to agree about that. It’s all about who wrote the enormous part of eighteen notes (melismas included) that are to be found in “There are places I remember/All my life though some have changed).

  31. Richard Adler

    John admitted that he lied about who wrote what in his interviews. I believe Paul because there are people around who would call him out if he lied. They didnt so I believe Paul.

  32. Graham Paterson

    This is a favorite of mine, a beautiful song.I fell in love with this song when I first heard it on The Beatles Love Songs compilation I got for Christmas 1977. It of course was first released in 1965 on the great Rubber Soul album. I got my copy of this in March 1979 for my birthday. There is always debate who wrote what on this song. To me the lyrics bear all the hallmarks of John Lennon, for its autobiographical nature alone. He was always exceptionally proud of this. Paul McCartney may have written the melody, either way this is a great song. To all of us that have lived, lost and remember, this is a testament to the universality of being human.

  33. Michael

    Can’t you hear it’s just a similar harmony to “A Day in the life” ? You could even sing it’s lyrics over “In my life”. So, it’s probably a Lennon’s draft that became a (great) Beatles song thanks to McCartney efforts. That’s why finally this song consists in a voice and a bass. Neither Lennon or McCartney would have written such a song on their owns. That’s the Beatles !

  34. Ian

    I was just listening to this track and noticed the bass E-string seems to be tuned down to a low D. It’s heard most easily in the isolated band track where the bass goes “all these places have their moments…”. McCartney seems to be playing a fifth, that is low D and the A above (and perhaps even the D above the A).

  35. James

    The key question is whether the Lyrics were COMPLETE when brought to Maca. Because (1) we know that Macca claims to have set Lennon’s music from beginning to end on a mellotron. (2)There is also a Rolling Stone article where
    Macca claims Lennon brought in just the first draft, containing just the first verse, now held at the British Library.
    In the first instance the only way Macca could have written the melody from beginning to end is if Lennon never
    bothered to, because as a songwriter myself, there is no way on earth that a harmonic genius of lennon’s order (a
    composer who like Beethoven had an uncanny ability to find the right next chord, think of If I fell, #9 dream, lucy in the sky,
    because, just like starting over, war is over etc, taking a song to musical extremes and always making it back alive) would not have found all of the chords to this in 10-20 minutes. The first four chords the i,mii, iv, then the miv or the v, are seen over and over again in Lennon’s songwriting and the songs they covered before and after “in my life”: Mr Postman, Stand by Me, Free as a bird, Nowhere Man, etc. So, I find it implausible that if Lennon had all the words written and had bothered to pull out a guitar, that he wouldn’t have worked out all the chords and and the melody natural to them, except perhaps the part that John suggests Paul contributed to melodically, “the middle eight” bad choice of words, but it doesn’t really have a name other than ‘the change’ or “the second half of the verse”, where it changes to the mii7 (F#m7) and begins with the words “all these places have their moments…”.
    And for a song this deeply personal, I find it hard to imagine that Lennon didn’t bother to try and set it to music before
    Macca got his hands on it. And even if he didn’t bother to, Macca should be humble enough to admit that John could
    have found those chords and the tune by himself. When you write a song with the lyrics first, and they are entirely complete, you have to have in mind the form the music will take (trust Bernie Taupin and Bob Dylan if you don’t trust me), as you can’t write the lyrics first to a song without having in mind its musical flavour and genre, otherwise your just writing prose or poetry. And again, if you don’t believe me try and set some great prose or a
    great poem to music, and see if you get a great song: it’s simply not possible. Having said that, the really
    interesting thing, the Pandora’s box, the cat among the pigeons is whether the lyrics weren’t complete (2) when they
    came to Macca. Then you have an entirely different story. Where Macca may well have contributed to the lyrics and
    set the song to music from the start to finish. However, it must be said even then, the melody for the first 8 bars is inherent in the lyrics of the first verse of the first draft because of the the old rock ‘n’ roll chordal chestnut i mii iv v with Lennon’s miv twist.

  36. James

    Oops, I meant mvi (F#m) where I wrote mii. Also, at the end I meant the melody is inherent in the lyrics, but there’s no way Lennon would then have written anything other than the i mvi iv miv progression. So, basically the song is a Lennon song if he wrote all the lyrics as we see them above on page two, or it’s a pure 50/50 lennon maccartney if Lennon only came to him with the first verse as implied by the Barry Miles ‘Many Years from Now’. It’s interesting that on the printed set of Lennon lyrics he has M circled for middle eight as he stated in the 1970 Rolling Stone interview and which is the part as stated above that begins ‘all these places have their moments’. The fact that on these completed lyrics he is referring to the second part of the verse as the middle eight suggests to me that he perhaps had not found the F#m7 change and subsequent chords or melody here, which Paul would have contributed. It looks on close inspection that John’s version of events is closer to what probably happened, as Macca can’t possibly have been given a version that had
    NO TUNE, and only a set of lyrics with just an opening stanza because Lennon wouldn’t have marked the second halves of the verses with an M for middle eight if he had written this lyric sheet after the song was recorded because it’s clearly
    not a middle eight anymore, however he remembered it this way later on because this is how he’d initially structured
    the song before Paul presumably figured out the middle eight. So there it is, my final conclusion, my position has changed
    as I’ve written three times, but I think I finally cracked it. John wrote all the words and the initial melody and Macca wrote the music for the “middle eight”.

  37. James

    The last word: Macca’s recollection of what happened has been the main problem because of his two conflicting accounts: 1 that he was given the complete lyrics by John and set them from beginning to end to music, and 2 that he was given the first stanza and then went and wrote the music and finished off the rest of the lyrics with John. I hate to say it, but Macca has given us two completely contradictory versions of events and this perhaps more than anything is at the heart of the problem. Secondly, the big riddle of the “middle eight” has been solved by looking at Lennon’s original hand written lyrics,
    and why he subsequently attributed Macca with writing the “middle eight”.

  38. James

    A journalist needs to show Paul the two sets of Lyrics. The incomplete set of lyrics at the top of this page and the complete set of lyrics at the top the the second page, and ask him which set of Lyrics he was shown by John? Then we can work out what Paul contributed to the song. We know Paul at least wrote the melody to the middle eight, as John says so: “his contribution melodically was the middle-eight and the harmony itself”. Now the “harmony itself” could refer to the backing harmony in the verses, or to the entire chord progression for the song, “itself” suggesting entirety. Again, I must repeat this, John seems to be suggesting Paul wrote the chords from start to finish with this admission. But we don’t know for sure what he means by harmony here. All we can do as a forum is try and work out whether the complete set of lyrics, which I can’t work out how to paste in my comment, were written before or after the song was shown to Paul. Because, for musical reasons stated above, it is very unlikely that he didn’t have the initial melody if he had all the lyrics penned before shown to Paul. However, if he only had the first snippet, as seen in the lyrics at page top, it is very possible that he never bothered to set music to the lyrics: as he called it the “most terrible, boring, blunderbuss story about what I did on my holidays (appx)”. But it is also possible that he saw the melody inherent in the cadences of those first few lines, and they are also spaced in accordance with the phrasing of the final song, even at this early stage. This was John’s greatest and most personal song up to that point and musically he was sideswiped by Paul; no doubt this caused some animosity. John subsequently maintained that he had the original 18 note melody and would sing it around the house: ‘all my good one’s, I would sing around the house before writing the music for them like “In my Life” and “This Boy” (appx)’. Now, Paul on the other hand claims he asked John if he had a tune and John replied “no”. So, this is a he said she said. We can’t take Paul’s word or John’s on this. The only way to make a best guess is to ask Paul whether he saw the complete set or the partial set of lyrics. I have done a 180 since I started these posts, but bizarrely only Paul can help help John’s cause from here on. Because all John can claim, as he did “in his life” were those opening 18 notes.

    PS: those 18 notes, sound very similar to the opening notes for Revolution, a great vertical melody by John with 26 notes.

  39. Bongo

    Great song. This is one of those classic songs that made the 1962-1966 Red Album what it is!

    Forget Beatles 1, get the Red & Blue albums to really appreciate the Beatles.

  40. Kay

    This is my favorite Beatles song. I think that the lyrics reflect Lennon really maturing as a songwriter and that this song/album was a building block for the Beatles and Lennon to writing more personal and emotional pieces.

  41. Some guy

    I can’t even find the comment I made at 3am about how the song bears Johns “fingerprints” through his use of a favourite chord device, the “minor subdominant”.

    I noted that that device may have been taught to John by his mother Julia when she taught him to play one of her favourite tunes on the banjo, “Little White Lies”.

    According to Lewisohn, Julia taught John how to play “Little White Lies” on banjo:

    And here is “Little White Lies” as sung by Annette Hanshaw in 1930:


    As I mentioned in my post, I believe that this has some significance if one is willing to accept my unprovable thesis that “In My Life” was written either consciously or unconsciously about his mother Julia Lennon.

    “But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one who compares with you…”

    Who else could that possibly be?

    Only one other person in 1965: Paul McCartney!

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