Monday, July 24, 2006

Regina Spektor:How the Beatles' Rubber Soul Changed My Life

The Beatles were the first—really the only—pop music I knew growing up in Russia. I listened to them before I knew English. I learned all the songs phonetically even though I couldn’t understand a word. For a long time, all I listened to was classical music and the Beatles.

Rubber Soul sounded to me like pure happiness. It was like superconcentrated happiness droplets! The Beatles’ voices just felt so good. The “beep beep, beep beep, yeah!” in “Drive My Car” is just pure goodness!

When I moved to America and learned English, I was finally able to understand the words and I loved Rubber Soul even more. I love the characters they were able to create, these bigger-then-life people like “Nowhere Man.”

Another thing I love about Rubber Soul is how diverse it is. A song like “Norwegian Wood” is so far away from “I’m Looking Through You.” That’s something I’ve always tried to do on my records. I don’t want to ever make a consistent or cohesive record—that’s just boring. Of course, Rubber Soul is cohesive in some ways, but it also takes you from one world to another in a way that can be pretty drastic.

My producer, David Kahne, has worked with Paul McCartney, and David invited me and my parents to see him at Madison Square Garden. It was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. It was mind-blowing! Paul played for two and a half hours and it felt like five minutes. He played so many songs I grew up on. I can feel my childhood when I listen to him.

Now that I’m a musician and I know about production, I can experience the Beatles on a whole new level by hearing how they’re using the studio. It’s like when you love a book, then take an amazing class where the professor walks you through the biblical references and historical tie-ins inside it. Instead of just getting it on an instinctual level, you have the tools to understand it in a bigger way.

That’s why the Beatles are classic. If you grow, they’ll grow with you. And that’s an amazing thing.

Regina Spektor’s new album, Begin to Hope, is out now on Sire.


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