Rubber Soul was successful commercially and critically, and is often cited as one of the greatest albums in music history. In 2012, Rubber Soul was ranked #5 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".Rubber Soul was the group's first release not to feature their name on the cover, an uncommon tactic in 1965.

The album also saw the Beatles expanding rock and roll's instrumental resources, most notably on "Norwegian Wood" through George Harrison's use of the Sitar "Norwegian Wood" is generally credited as starting a musical craze for the sound of the unique instrument in the mid-1960 The song is now acknowledged as one of the cornerstones of what is now usually called "World Music"and it was a major landmark in the trend towards incorporating non-Western musical influences into Western popular music. Harrison would eventually be transfixed by all things Indian, taking sitar lessons from renowned Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar who passed away in 2013.