Friday, March 27, 2009

You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

We've all felt a little "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" before, haven't we? Sure we have. A little moody, a little down in the dumps, a little sorry for ourselves.... Well, it's a miserably gray morning in Boston, and, I don't know, maybe today is a day for me to hide my love away, is all.

What's weird about the setting of this song in Help! is that it doesn't seem particularly sad at all. George and Paul are flirting, Ringo is earnest with his tambourine, and John is grinning like a mad man. But then again, Help! is kind of a weird movie, and the Beatles were fairly high throughout, and that's all fine.

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is frequently held up as the pinnacle of John's so-called "Dylan period," which is probably true enough-- John himself admitted as much later. And there are actually some specific lyric similarities between this song and Dylan's "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Have Never Met)." What people mean when they use the word "Dylan-esque" to describe this song, I think, is that it's entirely acoustic-- a first for the Beatles at this point-- and that the lyrics seem bitterly personal. Even given all of this, though, I can't help but wonder if "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" sounded more Dylan-esque in its time. The neurosis of the lyrics here sounds perfectly Lennon to me, albeit more gently written than in some other songs-- many other songs in which he's singing about his alienation contain an element of vengeance that's absent here. The elliptical nature of the lyrics are probably pretty Dylan-inspired too (I've always liked that "how could she say to me love will find a way?" bit). But the level of self-absorption and self-loathing is 100% John.

I love how the verses here are so simple, with this tiny pitch range that makes them sound almost like musical mumbling. And then out of nowhere John sings "hey!" and slaps the guitar in that way he does. Despite the presence in the Help! video of Paul's bass, in fact he and George and John are all on acoustic guitars for this one, with Ringo on tambourine and maracas-- so it's an all-acoustic, kind of quiet texture in which that "hey" moment just crackles. The other bit that I really like is that the vocal melody ends on the 5th scale degree, so it doesn't really sound resolved at the end-- it sounds in search of a resolution that it can't find. Rather than finish off the vocal, John lets the flutes finish the song off for him. And your fun Beatles fact of the day is that "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is the first Beatles song to feature an outside studio musician, a flautist.

Now to turn my face away from the wall and face this stupid gray day. Blah.

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," released in the U.K. side A track 3 of Help!, August 6, 1965; in the U.S. side A track 4 of the crappy Capitol Help!, August 13, 1965.
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