Rubber Soul is often cited as one of the greatest albums in pop music history. In 1998, Q magazine readers voted it the 40th greatest album of all time, while in 2000 the same magazine placed it at number 21 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2001, VH1 placed it at number 6. In 2003, the album was ranked number 5 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, the album was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best albums of all time.
McCartney conceived the album's title after overhearing a black musician's description of Mick Jagger's singing style as "plastic soul". Lennon confirmed this in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, stating, "That was Paul's title... meaning English soul. Just a pun." McCartney said a similar phrase, "Plastic soul, man. Plastic soul...", at the end of "I'm Down" take 1, on Anthology 2.