Imagine binge-watching a great season of your favorite show and every episode is awesome, and then you get to the finale and they throw in some unexpected plot twist that isn’t enough to retroactively ruin the season, but it leaves a pretty sour taste in your mouth. That’s sort of what listening to Rubber Soul is like.
Tonight on CBS: the series finale of How I Met Your Mother and Then Killed Her Off 20 Minutes Later.*
I mean, I won’t deny that Rubber Soul‘s concluding track, “Run For Your Life,” is catchy. It is. But any song that opens with, “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man,” has sort of an uphill battle. (I don’t know whether or not it’s a good thing that John Lennon actually stole that line from an Elvis song.) Usually I’m pretty easy-going when it comes to lyrics that I philosophically disagree with–my music collection would be a lot smaller if I weren’t–but I suppose it’s a matter of expectations. When I put on an Alice in Chains record, I know it’s gonna be dour. But with its deceptively bouncy melody, “Run for Your Life” truly sticks out in the Beatles’ catalog, and not in a good way.
It’s not the only song of theirs that describes an unhealthy relationship–it’s not even the only song on Rubber Soul that does. But the others are introspective. This one’s just flat-out vindictive, and as a result, it’s not very fun to listen to. And John can pass the buck on the first line, but he has to take the blame for the equally sinister subsequent lyrics. (Consolation? In 1970 and 1980, he denounced the track, but mostly because it was a “throwaway song” he “knocked off.” He allegedly called it his least favorite Beatles song in 1973, although I can’t find direct evidence of this.)
*The last season of How I Met Your Mother wasn’t very good to begin with, but did they really have to end it like that? I haven’t been able to watch an episode of that show since.