Breaking Down The Love Songs From The Beatles
via The Beatles/YouTube
Their Creative Process
The Beatles will always be remembered as one of the few rock acts who were truly worth the hype. Even from the get-go, it was clear they were far from average and throughout the ’60s, they proved just how much they deserved their legendary status with every record. Their songs became the soundtrack of every teen and young adult at the height of Beatlemania and even decades later, their music remains the standard by which all others are measured.
Though they have dozens of musical masterpieces in their arsenal, one theme that’s ever present in every album and most singles is LOVE. After all, they were teenage boys with their signature moptop hair during their early years and it would be an antithesis to their clean-cut image if they immediately sang about sex and drugs. Also, their fanbase consisted mostly of young girls and that’s basically who they kept in mind when they penned their songs – at the beginning, at least.
Their debut single “Love Me Do” and its B-side “P.S. I Love You” were obviously written with a teen audience in mind. And unlike other popular love songs, The Beatles strayed away from writing about a particular woman or an actual person at the time. Instead, they referred to the lover simply as “YOU” and the narrator in the lyrics is always in the first person point of view. So in their songs, it would seem as though The Beatles were singing about YOU – the fan, the listener, the audience.
With the arrival of their third studio album, “A Hard Day’s Night,” it marked a change in their songwriting. First off, all tracks were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Second, LOVE this time wasn’t just about feelings particularly “Can’t Buy Me Love” where they touched upon the role of material things in a relationship. McCartney said, “The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won’t buy me what I really want.”
On “Beatles for Sale,” they still sang about love but the record took on a darker and more somber route. It was no longer about rainbows and butterflies. In fact, five out of fourteen songs were about heartbreak. And on “Help!”, McCartney wrote the heart-wrenching and melancholy ballad “Yesterday” which was about the end of a relationship. It became their most covered song.
On “Rubber Soul,” sex became part of the picture with the upbeat “Drive My Car.” McCartney admitted that “‘Drive my car’ was an old blues euphemism for sex.” Then, “Revolver” showcased the band’s growth and maturity, musically and lyrically. But more than love, they now sang about taxes, sleep, and sex. But of course, it wasn’t without love songs.
Reaching their creative peak with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” they now have few tracks about love but in 1967, they dropped the non-album single “All You Need is Love” and in all the ways that matter, it became the ultimate love song especially amid the Summer of Love.
They further went beyond themes of love and romance with the “White Album”. John Lennon, finding new inspiration with his relationship with Yoko Ono, wrote “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” for her. As George Harrison stepped out of the shadow of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, he brought his A-game with “Something” – a love song to his first wife, Pattie Boyd. And there’s “The End” which contains the iconic line “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Overall, love was a major theme in The Beatles catalog. Romantic love, desperate love, sexual love, and just love as a universal feeling – they were ever-present in their albums and singles. And it’s no wonder why those tracks have stood the test of time.