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Today the “Paperback Writer”/“Rain” single hit the streets. In my mind’s eye I can see myself getting home with the new Beatles 45 and putting on the A side — a crisp, snappy number with a big ol’ bassline — then proceeding to the flip and having my mind completely blown. “Rain” was by a substantial margin the most psychedelic thing the Beatles had released up to this point (“Tomorrow Never Knows,” though it was recorded earlier, would not see the light of day for a while still).

But I wasn’t actually alive then. For a nice reminiscence about “Paperback Writer” by someone who was, check out this post by one Steve Hollier.

As for “Rain,” the general consensus seems to be that it reflects the influence of Bob Dylan, lyrically at least. This is quite appropriate as Bob would be in London later in the week, and he and John would be filmed together by D.A. Pennebaker. Compare/contrast “Rain’s”

When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead

with “Ballad of a Thin Man”:

Something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

There’s a certain similarity there — an up-and-coming new generation sneering at the cluelessness of their elders. It’s hard to remember, sometimes, just how young these people were; though Dylan and Lennon were hardened show-business veterans at this point, they were both still 25.

The similarities don’t stop there, of course. Just for starters, both had recently been embroiled in controversy: Lennon with his Jesus comments, Dylan with his electric conversion. There will be more to say on this topic when Bob comes to town on Thursday.

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