Love You To - The Beatles
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"Love You To" - The Beatles (1966)
George Harrison wrote “Love You To” and aside from some assistance by Ringo on tambourine, is the only Beatle to play on it. It serves as one of the first Beatles’ thorough immersion in Asiatic soundscapes.
He said of the song:
“The sitar sounded so nice and my interest was getting deeper all the time. I wanted to write a tune that was specifically for the sitar.”
“Love You To” features a tabla, which is an Indian drum played with the hands- the first time that instrument was used in a popular song.
Professor Stephen Valdez pointed out that the use of vocal harmony on this track was completely different than any other Beatle song as harmony is not used to differentiate the verse from the chorus or to emphasize a hook, nor is it used to help relate the narrative. Instead, Valdez writes, the harmony vocal functions descriptively and atmospherically, to help evoke the sense of Indian musical practice.
“Love You To” is an extension of the anti-western, anti-materialism, anti-action theme which is endemic to much of Beatle music.
Many Beatle songs talk about love, but not many about sex, which is another way that this song broke new ground--actually saying “make love.” Though George seems to be singing of sexual love and presumably of coitus itself, his point is that the act of love can destroy the temporal sense- which is exactly what happens in the phase-out on the track.
The words of the title are not even in the song. Music writer Steve Turner says this is indicative of George Harrison always having a problem with lyrics- as names of song were never attached to his compositions until the very end. Turner adds that the deep, rolling instrumentation matches well with George’s deep, nasally vocals. The effect conjures up an image of him in the lotus position, floating in slow circles in a cloudy background.
Turner wrote that the lyrics are very spiritual- as the listener is directed inward to the soul and instructed to only trust your own mind and body. He adds:
“We are instructed that everyone will screw us, and fill us with their sins so that we should only trust something that comes from within our own soul.”
By affirming the primacy of the non-self, George is suggesting that an individual’s self lacks stability and cannot be named—”you don’t get time to hang a sign on me.”
Harrison mourns the many ways in which we fritter away our lives in useless craving and by “living” at an exhausting pace: “Each day just goes so fast / I turn around—it’s past…Turn off your mind [and] relax.”
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