The Beatles

Love You To

Song Review by

Although George Harrison had played the sitar on "Norwegian Wood" to wide notice, "Love You To" was really the first Beatles song (and Harrison composition) to fully reflect his immersion in Indian music. While the sitar had been used as something of an exotic adornment on "Norwegian Wood," on "Love You To" it was a big part of the song. The arrangement also used an outside musician, Anil Bhagwat, on tabla. Opinions remain divided about the merits of this first all-out excursion by the Beatles into raga-rock, some seeing it as an exciting venture into a new frontier, others complaining that the song was turgid musically and moralistic lyrically. Nicholas Schaffner, for instance, described it as "sprawling and listless in just about every way" in The Beatles Forever, and Harrison's lead vocal does drone on in a rather lugubrious way. The sitar solo (by George) is a little disheveled, and the track kind of putters along aimlessly on the instrumental fadeout, though it's kind of neat how it accelerates somewhat in rhythm at that point. Undoubtedly, however, the song was another indication of the group's rapidly broadening barriers on the Revolver album. The opening section, in fact, bears far more relation to traditional Indian music than rock, suddenly exploding into full-out raga-rock at a flashpoint that's probably the track's high point. In a less Indian manner, another innovative feature of the instrumental backing was how some metallic tones swelled like onrushing trucks in the chorus, like an ominous foretelling of judgement at hand. The lyrics, too, were among the first of Harrison's to traipse beyond man-woman romantic relations, though they're a rather muddled mix of free love advocacy, meditations on the transience of life on Earth, and chip-on-the-shoulder wariness of people out to exploit him. Still, it was unusual in the extreme to sing lines such as "make love all day long" and "there's people standing round who screw you in the ground" in a pop music song. Harrison sometimes had some trouble assigning titles to his own songs, and "Love You To" is a good example: the title phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the lyric, and in isolation it's pretty meaningless (if it was an attempt at a pun on the phrase "love you too," it wasn't a terribly memorable one). Because of its highly idiosyncratic nature, "Love You To" hasn't been covered often, though a few people have tried, the most notable of those being Bongwater.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Revolver 1966 Apple Records / Capitol 2:59
No Image 1984 MGM
No Image 1992 Toshiba EMI 0:00
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 3:01
Yellow Submarine Songtrack 1999 Capitol / EMI Records / Apple 2:58
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 2:59
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 2:59
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 3:09