Beatles – The Word

It took a few listens to this song for me to fully appreciate it. It was not released as a single but it was on the Rubber Soul album in 1965. This song expressed desire and optimism for universal peace and love.

Multi-part vocals over a simple chord structure that sounds so different to what they did the year before. From I Want To Hold Your Hand to The Word shows The Beatles refusing to use a formula and continuing to move forward. They would stick to this pattern and lead the way until the end of the sixties.

Rubber Soul would peak at #1 in the Billboard album charts in 1966.

Paul McCartney said of the song:

“To write a good song with just one note in it – like ‘Long Tall Sally’ – is really very hard.  It’s the kind of thing we’ve wanted to do for some time.  We get near it in ‘The Word.’

John on the song:

 “It sort of dawned on me that love was the answer, when I was younger, on the ‘Rubber Soul’ album.  My first expression of it was a song called ‘The Word.’  The word is ‘love.’  ‘In the good and the bad books that I have read,’ whatever, wherever, the word is ‘love.’  It seems like the underlying theme to the universe.  Everything that was worthwhile got down to this love, love, love thing.  And it is the struggle to love, be loved and express that (just something about love) that’s fantastic.  I think that whatever else love is – and it’s many, many things – it is constant.  It’s been the same forever.  I don’t think it will ever change.  Even though I’m not always a loving person, I want to be that, I want to be as loving as possible.”

From Songfacts

This is another brilliant musical innovation from the Rubber Soul album, the first point at which The Beatles shrugged off the “mop tops” image and went for bolder artistic horizons. “The Word” sounds almost like evangelizing; as opposed to a standard boy-girl love song, the lyrics here embrace love as more of a concept, the way the Flower Power movement was thinking about it.

The lyrics of “The Word” also mark an important point at which The Beatles began to realize that they were, in fact, spokespeople for a new generation. Their songs started packing a stronger message, bridging their way to the future when John and George would make their lyrics more political.

Lead vocals on this song were shared by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Beatles producer George Martin played the harmonium, an organ-like keyboard instrument.

Yoko Ono gave the sheet music of this song as a gift to the composer John Cage, who later published it in his book Notations. Ono studied under Cage, even sharing the occasional stage with him, before she met John Lennon.

Out of all the zillions of times that music fans claim that something was composed on drugs, this is one of the rare times when a performer actually states that they did drugs while creating it. Paul McCartney reported in interviews that they’d blazed some reefer before setting down to do the lyrics, and reports that far from enhancing their ability, it actually got in the way.

In 2002, Joan Jett covered this for the album, It’s All About Eve (Music For The Cure), a charity compilation to support breast cancer research. It was produced by Rob Stevens, who had worked with John Lennon.

Rubber Soul is often cited as the first album issued without the artist’s name on its cover, but that honor really goes to Elvis Presley for his 1959 album For LP Fans Only.

The Word

Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word, love

In the beginning I misunderstood
But now I’ve got it, the word is good

Spread the word and you’ll be free
Spread the word and be like me
Spread the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word, love

Every where I go I hear it said
In the good and bad books that I have read

Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word, love

Now that I know what I feel must be right
I’m here to show everybody the light

Give the word a chance to say
That the word is just the way
It’s the word I’m thinking of
And the only word is love

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word, love

Say the word love
Say the word love
Say the word love
Say the word love

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

5 thoughts on “Beatles – The Word”

  1. Lyrically, this song is simply amazing. The whole structure of it is just not like anyting else. When you see song lyrics written out… It usually looks like a poem. this has structure, but it’s not like a normal structure… If you know what I mean.

    The opening for notes of this song are an indication that it is not like anything you’ve heard from them before. I always loved the intro to this one.

    I was actually listening to The Beatles channel on Sirius XM this week. They have a segment where people can call in and play therefore favorite Beatles songs. Occasionally they have some celebrity playing their favorites. That actually got me to thinking about what my favorite Beatles songs were. I’m guessing I couldn’t pick just five… And there will probably be a blog about it at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took a while to catch with me but I love it. There is no way I could pick 5 favorites because they were everchanging and it depends on what mood I’m in at that time.
      It does read like a poem…the vocals and harmonies really lift it up and over. They had a way of turning a simple phrase into something that you would remember.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: