John Lennon had a career in music that changed the world, but, not every song had a great effect on him. His work with The Beatles is some of the finest bits of pop ever made but, the truth is, Lennon wasn’t very impressed with some of them. When you’ve written some songs that remain exemplary over half a century on, i’s a high watermark that, now and then, The Beatles widely missed.
Whilst their hit rate remains higher than pretty much any artist ever, The Fab Four weren’t always so fab if you go by John Lennon’s words. “I feel I could make every fucking one of them better,” remarked Lennon during his infamously brutal and scathing interview with David Sheff in 1980. In this interview, Lennon was candid and open about his regrets through his career. He laid everything on the line in this iconic interview about The Beatles songs that he couldn’t care less about and his perfectionism shines through when speaking about songs that don’t meet his lofty standards, yet, most artists would kill to have in their repertoire.
Most of the songs that Lennon lamented was because he was no longer that twenty-something who had written it or played a part in its creation. In their meteoric rise to rock and roll fame, the band recorded more than 300 songs and, predictably, not all of them hold the same weight as their classics. In the years after The Beatles disbanded, John Lennon was often drawn into a conversation about the band and was never afraid to share his opinion, no matter the angle.
Few songs did he hate to the same degree as the 1965 track, ‘It’s Only Love’. The song featured on Help! and not even the most ardent Beatles fan will leap to the track’s defence or have it in their favourite moments from The Fab Four. It is the definition of a throwaway song. The chances of a song like this sneaking its way on to a Beatles record post-1965 are slim, but, Lennon hated it from the moment he wrote it.
“It’s the most embarrassing song I ever wrote. Everything rhymed. Disgusting lyrics. Even then I was so ashamed of the lyrics, I could hardly sing them. That was one song I really wished I’d never written,” Lennon brutally said in an interview with British journalist Ray Connelly. This interview with Ray Connelly wasn’t the only time Lennon laid bare his feelings towards the track, he told Hit Parader Magazine: “That’s the one song I really hate of mine. Terrible lyric.”
“It’s only love, and that is all, Why should I feel the way I do? It’s only love, and that is all, But it’s so hard loving you,” Lennon sings on the chorus. Hardly his finest lyrical hour.
As the years went on, his opinion didn’t soften on the track. In 1980, when he spoke to Playboy’s David Sheff, he told the journalist:” ‘It’s Only Love’ is mine. I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song.”
On the other hand, Paul McCartney has a much more balanced and reflective attitude towards the track, whilst he’s not a huge fan of it, he also can’t warrant wasting energy on a song from 1965. “Sometimes we didn’t fight it if the lyric came out rather bland on some of those filler songs like ‘It’s Only Love’. If a lyric was really bad we’d edit it, but we weren’t that fussy about it, because it’s only a rock ‘n’ roll song. I mean, this is not literature,” he told Barry Miles.
Macca’s opinion on the track is fair and honest. The track is bland and isn’t going to find its way on to any Beatles compilations anytime soon. However, it’s just a filler song, and it’s truly not worth losing sleep over like Lennon seemingly did.