Since it’s Valentine’s weekend, a boomer’s thoughts inevitably turn to love. We surrounded ourselves with mentions of love for each other and humanity during our heyday, but we were especially fond of love songs from the ’50s through the ’70s. In the middle of it all, perhaps there were no more prolific love song composers in the 1960s than John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The dynamic songwriting duo of The Beatles composed dozens of love songs in the four years of their peak popularity. The Beatles covered dozens more, too, from Buddy Holly’s Words of Love to Arthur Alexander’s Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms), and many more.
There is a special place in the heart of just about every boomer for The Beatles; even those who didn’t care for a lot of their music have a favorite Beatles love song. Mister Boomer was thinking about Beatles love songs this weekend, and quickly realized the list was extensive, so he decided to concentrate only on the songs that had the word “love” in them.
P.S. I Love You/ Love Me Do – October 1962 (in UK; 1964 in US)
The first Beatles single had not one but two love-titled songs on it and was destined to be become a classic. The A-side featured Love Me Do. Credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was primarily written by Paul McCartney several years before he was in The Beatles (1958-59). John Lennon recalls McCartney had the song with him in Hamburg, and had possibly collaborated on parts of it, but called it “Paul’s song.” McCartney relates the effort as 50-50.
P.S. I Love You, the B-side, picked up the theme of writing love letters that had been so prevalent in love songs of the 1950s. McCartney wrote it but again it is credited to Lennon-McCartney. About the time the group was going to record it, Ringo Starr was hired to replace Pete Best; George Martin didn’t know Ringo would be at the studio so he hired session musician Andy White to appear on the recording. You can hear Ringo playing maracas on the record.
She Loves You -August 1963
Written by Lennon-McCartney, it was released as a single and became their best selling single in the UK. They duo began composing the song on the band’s bus when they were touring with Roy Orbison and Gerry and the Pacemakers. McCartney completed the song when he returned to his home in Liverpool the next day. Unlike a lot of love songs of the era, this one wasn’t talking about a love or to a lover, but was written from the point of view of one friend talking to another who needed to be clued into what was happening.
All My Loving – November 1963
Recorded for the album, With the Beatles, All My Loving was not released as a single in the US or UK. The song enjoyed a lot of airplay, so EMI did release it as a single in Canada, where it became a number one hit.
And I Love Her – July 1964
Written by McCartney for the album, A Hard Day’s Night, it is another song that is credited to Lennon-McCartney. In addition to the album and used in the movie, it was released as a single backed with If I Fell, another love song.
Can’t Buy Me Love – March 1964
Also written for A Hard Day’s Night, it was also credited to Lennon-McCartney. It was released as a single backed with You Can’t Do That. McCartney defended the song years later when he was questioned about whether it was about a prostitute. He stated the song was about the fact that all the money in the world can’t buy a man what he really needs — love.
It’s Only Love – August 1965
This one was written by John Lennon, but credited to Lennon-McCartney. It was released on the album, Help! in the UK, but on Rubber Soul in the US. Neither Lennon nor McCartney thought much of the song. Lennon said in an interview in 1980 that he hated it, and McCartney said the group usually edited lyrics when they didn’t care for them, but It’s Only Love was considered album filler, so they didn’t take the time and effort.
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away – August 1965
John Lennon wrote the song for the album, Help!, but it is another that is credited to Lennon-McCartney. The song was released as a single and was the first featured in the Help! film.
Love You To – August 1966
George Harrison wrote the song and it was included on the Revolver album. Though Norwegian Wood is often named as the first Western song that included Indian classical musical instruments, Love You To was more fully realized for a rock audience. Harrison played sitar on the track, but the other Beatles had minimal involvement in the recording. Instead, Harrison got Indian musicians to play Northern Indian tabla, which is a pair of hand-drums, and a tambura, a lute-like stringed instrument. Harrison is said to have written the lyrics as a love song to his wife, Patti, but the inclusion of sitar was inspired by Ravi Shankar, who agreed to become his tutor shortly after the song was released.
All You Need is Love – July 1967
When The Beatles were commissioned by the BBC for a song that would be included in Our World, the first global live television link, John Lennon wrote All You Need is Love. Like many others, it is credited to Lennon-McCartney. The Beatles performed it on the live telecast and it was included on the Magical Mystery Tour album.
Mister Boomer’s brother was a big Beatles fan, bringing singles and albums into the Boomer household as soon as they became available, so Mister B was familiar with them all. Nonetheless, if pressed to choose a favorite, Mister B will deflect the question. After all, love being a many splendored thing, different songs might be “more favorite” at various times. If you press further, Mister B might add that some of his favorite Beatles love songs might not have had the word “love” in the title. They recorded so many, and they stand as testament to the great love songs of the 1960s.
Do you have a favorite Beatles love song, boomers? Does it have “love” in the title?