Day 265: “The Word”

When was it recorded?   Nov. 10, 1965

When was it first released, and on which album?   Dec. 3, 1965 on “Rubber Soul”

Who wrote it?   Lennon/McCartney

Have I heard this song before?   Yes

What my research dug up:

“John and I would like to do songs with just one note like ‘Long Tall Sally’. We get near it in ‘The Word.’” — Paul McCartney

According to the Beatles Bible, “The Word” was “a turning point in [John and Paul’s] writing, marking a transition between early songs such as ‘She Loves You,’ and the psychedelic era’s belief that ‘All You Need Is Love.’”

“We smoked a bit of pot, then we wrote out a multicolored lyric sheet, the first time we’d ever done that. We normally didn’t smoke when we were working. It got in the way of songwriting because it would just cloud your mind up – ‘Oh, shit, what are we doing?’ It’s better to be straight. But we did this multicolored thing.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)


“It sort of dawned on me that love was the answer, when I was younger, on the ‘Rubber Soul’ album. My first expression of it was a song called ‘The Word.’ The word is ‘love’, in the good and the bad books that I have read, whatever, wherever, the word is ‘love’. It seems like the underlying theme to the universe.” — John Lennon (Anthology)

According to Alan Pollack, “Far beyond the direct parallels with ‘All You Need Is Love,’ the lyrics of this song foreshadow to an unexpected and astonishing degree John’s eventual emergence as someone attempting through his art, with an almost messianic zeal that inspired many while it made some others equally uncomfortable, to suggest, if not outright instigate, a better world order. ‘In the beginning I misunderstood,’ we are told, but based on the assertions that now ‘I’ve got it,’ and ‘I’m here to show everybody the light’ we are promised that if only you will do this mysteriously simple thing (‘say / spread the word’) then magically ‘you’ll be free’ and even better, ‘be like me.’ …Indeed, not just the ideas, but some of the very turns of phrase expressed here resonate with later efforts of John’s.”

The Beatles recorded “The Word” during one seven-hour session on Nov. 10, 1965. The group recorded three takes of the rhythm track, overdubbing harmony vocals, piano, maracas, and a harmonium part played by George Martin onto the track.

Pretty funky!

According to Wikipedia, “John Lennon gave Yoko Ono the original sheets to the song just before their relationship began.” Yoko later gave the lyric sheet to avant-garde American composer John Cage, and Cage later reproduced the sheet in his book Notations.  A sweet story with an educational ending… there’s a joke about someone’s love life in there somewhere but I can’t quite parse it out…




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