100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away'
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31. 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away'

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: February 18, 1965
Released: August 13, 1965
Not released as a single

"That's me in my Dylan period," Lennon remarked about "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." "I am like a chameleon, influenced by whatever is going on. If Elvis can do it, I can do it. If the Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can. Same with Dylan."

Just as the Beatles had inspired Bob Dylan to incorporate a tougher rock & roll sound into his music, Dylan's example had pushed the Beatles — and Lennon in particular — to explore a more personal approach to writing songs. McCartney said that Dylan's poetic lyrics "hit a chord in John. It was as if John felt, 'That should have been me.' And to that end, John did a Dylan impression" on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." (The song's opening lines are remarkably similar to Dylan's 1964 track "I Don't Believe You [She Acts Like We Have Never Met]," which begins, "I can't understand/She let go of my hand/And left me here facing the wall.")

Serendipity also helped in writing "Hide Your Love Away." Lennon had originally written, "If she's gone, I can't go on/Feeling two foot tall," but when he accidentally sang "two foot small" while showing the song to McCartney, they both realized that was better.

"Hide Your Love Away" was recorded in one day for the Help! soundtrack, and its performance in the film, with the Beatles relaxing in their house built for four, is one of the movie's highlights. It was the first Beatles recording to feature all acoustic instruments, and it also marked one of the few times that Lennon, always painfully self-conscious about his singing, did not double-track his lead vocal, as he often did since discovering this studio trick.

The band brought in an outside musician for only the second time: For a six-pound fee (roughly $17 at the time) and no credit, Johnnie Scott recorded tenor and alto flute parts for the song. The Beatles gave Scott some general direction and let him sketch out the arrangement on his own. Scott did recall that the boys were in a fine mood at the time. "Ringo was full of marital joys," he said. "He'd just got back from his honeymoon."

Though the Beatles didn't release it as a single ("It's not commercial," Lennon said), the English folk group the Silkie, who were signed to Brian Epstein's management company, scored a Top 10 hit with it in the United States, and the Beach Boys covered it on 1965's Beach Boys' Party!album.

Appears On: Help!

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