Surprise, surprise, here’s another song John Lennon wrote and subsequently bad-mouthed a few years later. “I always thought it was a lousy song,” he said in 1980. “The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song.”
Ok, so he wasn’t going to be nominated for Poet Laureate on the strength of an opening couplet like, “I get high when I see you go by / My, oh my.” And there are definitely a few plot holes between the first and second verses–how did the narrator go from crippling shyness to nightly fights with his muse? But Lennon never gave himself enough credit for his natural, stream-of-consciousness writing style, and what “It’s Only Love” lacks in substance it easily makes up for in charm. (That applies to a number of tracks on the Help! album, actually.)
One of the most interesting things about this song is the direct Bob Dylan influence, not just from it’s folk rock sound, but that aforementioned opening lyric. When the lads first met Dylan, he applauded their bold use of the phrase, “I get high” in “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Lennon was forced to tell his hero that the lyric was actually “I can’t hide.” There was no more hiding getting high by 1965 though. Exhibit A: the entire Help! movie.