Who Wrote The Beatles' 'In My Life'? According to Math, It Was John Lennon

Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

One of the last remaining Beatles mysteries has finally been solved. For decades, no one knew for certain which Beatle wrote the 1965 song “In My Life”—Paul McCartney claimed to have written the music, but John Lennon said that McCartney only wrote part of it.

Now, academics have used a statistical method to get to the bottom of the song’s origin, and the numbers show that neither musician remembered it correctly, as NPR reports. According to a paper recently presented at a major statistics conference, Lennon wrote the entire song himself.

Lennon and McCartney shared a joint credit for all of the songs they wrote, regardless of the division of work. This reportedly stems back to an agreement they made as teenagers. Jason Brown, a mathematics professor at Canada's Dalhousie University, spent at least 10 years trying to crack the puzzle of who actually wrote “In My Life.”

Even though the two artists undoubtedly rubbed off on each other artistically during their years together, the two musicians still had their preferences, which can be charted and quantified. Brown and his co-authors—a mathematician and an engineering professor—analyzed individual notes, chords, and other components in dozens of Beatles songs to determine how often they appear in the Lennon-McCartney song catalog, identifying 149 distinct musical transitions in the Beatles oeuvre. Those stylistic choices are unique to the individual songwriter.

“When you do the math by counting the little bits that are unique to the people, the probability that McCartney wrote ["In My Life"] was .018—that's essentially zero,” Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin, who was not involved in the study, explained to NPR. “In other words, this is pretty well definitive. Lennon wrote the music.”

While some might be skeptical of reducing a creative process to numbers, Devlin said this method is “much more reliable than people’s recollections,” especially given the “incredibly altered mental state” that The Beatles found themselves in throughout much of the ’60s. And this isn't the first analysis of its kind. Another study in 2014 [PDF] determined that lyrics and algorithms could also be used to determine whether a song was written by McCartney or Lennon.

This wasn't Brown's first investigation into The Beatles' songwriting process, either. Back in 2008, he used sound-wave analysis to figure out how The Beatles created the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night,” hypothesizing that it was a combination of guitar, bass, and piano.

Lennon once said in an interview that he was inspired to write “In My Life” after a journalist suggested he model more songs after his own life experiences. Lennon later said that he considered the song to be his first major, meaningful piece of work, adding that, “Up until then, it had all been glib and throwaway.”

[h/t NPR]

Aretha Franklin Concert Documentary Being Released, Nearly 50 Years After It Was Filmed

Al’s Records and Tapes
Al’s Records and Tapes

In January 1972, soul queen Aretha Franklin went to the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts  of neighborhood Los Angeles to record what would become the highest selling live gospel album of all time, her Grammy-winning Amazing Grace. With her was director Sydney Pollack, who was there to turn her two days of performances into a concert documentary to accompany the album. Unfortunately, technical and legal issues have kept footage locked away ever since. Now, as Konbini alerts us, it's finally getting its big-screen debut, 46 years after it was filmed.

Amazing Grace will premiere during DOC NYC, a documentary film festival in New York. Filmed when Franklin was just shy of her 30th birthday, the 87-minute movie—which DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers calls "a lost treasure of documentary filmmaking"—captures the singer at her peak, performing for a packed house with the help of a live gospel choir.

Before Pollack died in 2008, the award-winning director behind 1985 movie Out of Africa and 1982 film Tootsie expressed his wish that his long-dormant film finally be revised and released. Producer Alan Elliott bought the rights in 2007. Though Franklin herself died in August 2018, Elliott worked with Franklin's estate—led by her niece, Sabrina Owens—to ready the film for its premiere.

It debuts on November 12, 2018. You can see some highlights in the trailer below.

Amazing Grace Trailer 072718 from alan elliott on Vimeo.

[h/t Konbini]

Does Hearing Christmas Music in Early November Enrage You? You're Not Alone

iStock.com/Ekely
iStock.com/Ekely

While some people still haven't gotten around to taking down their Halloween decorations, stores around the country are already blaring Christmas music. If the opening notes of "Jingle Bells" fill you with dread, you're not alone: a significant portion of shoppers find the seasonal soundtrack grating, and hearing it too early may be taking a toll on your mental health.

According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, people who already find the holidays stressful may be triggered when holiday music creeps into early November. "It's a reminder that we have to buy presents, cater for people, organize celebrations," she told Sky News. "Some people will react to that by making impulse purchases, which the retailer likes. Others might just walk out of the shop. It's a risk."

This may sound like a no-brainer to anyone who's in touch with their inner Grinch, and past research backs up the claims. In a 2011 Consumer Reports survey of more than 1000 people, 23 percent of respondents cited seasonal music as the thing they dread most about the holidays, placing it above holiday parties and disappointing gifts. A Research Intelligence Group poll from 2014 [PDF] found that holiday music can be so bothersome that 36 percent of people have admitted to leaving a store because of it.

For many, holiday music straddles a thin line between comforting and annoying. If seasonal songs have you humming along rather than plugging your ears, it may have something to do with the "mere exposure effect"—a psychological phenomenon where people tend to enjoy things they're familiar with. But at a certain point this effect wears off, with some songs becoming so familiar that they're no longer pleasant to listen to.

Of course that's not the case for everyone. The holidays are a happy time of year for many people, and seasonal music and decorations are a reminder of that. If that applies to you, feel free to start blasting your favorite Christmas tunes before Thanksgiving. (You may just want to keep it at a low enough volume that you don't annoy your neighbors.)

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