Rubber Soul, the Beatles’ sixth studio album, was released on 3 December 1965.
Some people have imagined the title to mean that the Beatles have literally lost their souls and are functioning on something unnatural, or that Paul’s life would be taken, and that his soul would bounce back in another. However, it was more about Paul being humored by a wordplay than about anticipating a soul transmigration.
When Paul learned of Mick Jagger (of the Rolling Stones) being accused of playing “plastic soul” (inauthentic soul music), Paul thought of the pun “rubber soul” (like the rubber soles of his shoes). Adopting the self-effacing title gave them a laugh, but also unashamedly acknowledged their lack of soulful authenticity compared to some African-American soul artists they admired. Furthermore, it showed the Beatles support for the Stones.
However self-effacing, the album itself is extraordinary. Rubber Soul was highly influential on the Beatles’ peers, leading to a widespread focus away from singles and onto creating albums of consistently high-quality songs. It has expanded the possibilities of pop music in terms of lyrical and musical scope, and is a key work in the creation of styles such as psychedelia and progressive rock. Rolling Stone ranked it fifth on the magazine’s 2012 list “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”