When was it recorded? Feb. 18, 1965
When was it first released, and on which album? Aug. 6, 1965 on “Help!”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
(I’ve had “Your Mother Should Know” stuck in my head since Wednesday night. I have yet to decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.)
“That’s me in my Dylan period again. 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.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
Indeed, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” owes its simple, almost acoustic style to Dylan, notably his 1964 number, “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met).” The Beatles Bible highlights the similarities of the opening lines in both songs.
“‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ is my Dylan period. It’s one of those that you sing a bit sadly to yourself, ‘Here I stand, head in hand…’ I’d started thinking about my own emotions. I don’t know when exactly it started, like ‘I’m A Loser’ or ‘Hide Your Love Away,’ those kind of things. Instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would try to express what I felt about myself, which I’d done in my books. I think it was Dylan who helped me realize that – not by any discussion or anything, but by hearing his work.” — John Lennon (Anthology)
Much has been made of the lyrics for “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” Alan Pollack gave them considerable investigation in his notes, writing, “The phrase ‘if she’s gone’ is intriguingly ambiguous. What does the ‘if’ mean here? Is the hero merely rehearsing in advance his fear of the possibility of her leaving in the future, or does it more likely convey the real-time immediacy of his just now being hit with the news of her leaving, and he’s and talking out loud trying to digest what it means. Similarly, the line ‘how could she say to me love will find a way’ is very difficult; it’s the sort of comment you expect someone to make when s/he’s trying to keep a relationship going no matter what, against all odds and obstacles, not when one is ramping down or breaking off. But then again, maybe our hero is himself perplexed and hurt by this very difficulty. For when love somehow cannot find a way, when such a thing is just not possible, is there ever any middle ground left to which such a relationship can move?”
So who’s it about? According to the Beatles Bible, “It has been suggested that the song was written for The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, who was a homosexual. Lennon and Epstein went on holiday to Barcelona, Spain together in April 1963; upon their return rumors began to spread in Liverpool that the pair had shared a sexual experience.” However, rumors also abound that the song is about a different affair John was having at the time. Who can really say?
The Beatles recorded “You’ve Got…” on Feb. 18, 1965 in nine takes, though only two were complete. Take Nine was used, but Take Five appeared on “Anthology 2” with a count-in from the first take.
Quoth the Beatles Bible, “‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ was the first Beatles song since ‘Love Me Do’ to feature an outside musician. Johnnie Scott, a flautist and musical arranger, first recorded a tenor flute as The Beatles taped their parts. He then overdubbed an alto flute part to complete the song.” (Yeah, flutes represent!) As Pollack elaborated, “Even the usage of a plain old transverse flute would have seemed unusual at this stage of [the Beatles’] career. The usage of the over-sized alto and tenor flutes, the likes of which are considered pretty exotic even within the realm of the concert or studio ensemble, is rather extraordinary.”
“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” also appeared in the film “Help!”
What an oddly lighthearted scene for a rather melancholy song.