Over the course of their remarkable ten-year journey, The Beatles collaborated to produce an impressive repertoire of 213 songs. Such a vast collection naturally meant that some tracks couldn’t quite measure up to the brilliance of others. Undeniably, The Beatles achieved an extraordinary level of success in popular music history, with over 20 number-one singles. However, amidst their beloved and enduring songs, there were a few that failed to leave a lasting impression.
The band’s contractual obligations with EMI, overseen primarily by their manager Brian Epstein, demanded the release of two albums per year. During the early and mid-1960s, fueled by youthful energy, they managed to meet this requirement. As their musical prowess gained recognition, the band members gained the freedom to extend recording sessions, experiment with new sounds, and lighten their workload by selecting only the finest material. However, in the early days of their career, there were a handful of songs included merely to fill album space.
One prime example of this was ‘It’s Only Love,’ a track from the 1965 album Help! It must be said that this particular song was rather ordinary, especially considering the band’s exploration of folk and string quartets during that period. Its main writer, John Lennon, held no fondness for it and even regarded it as a lackluster creation. In a 1980 interview with David Sheff, Lennon expressed his disdain, saying, “‘It’s Only Love’ is mine. I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song.”
Paul McCartney’s involvement in the writing and recording process of ‘It’s Only Love’ was relatively minimal. Although he played bass and possibly contributed to some of the lyrics, McCartney didn’t even lend his vocals to the track. Reflecting on those days, he recalled, “Sometimes we didn’t bother too much if the lyrics turned out to be bland in some of those filler songs like ‘It’s Only Love.'” McCartney further explained in the book Many Years From Now, “If a lyric was truly terrible, we would edit it, but we weren’t overly meticulous about it because, after all, it’s just a rock ‘n’ roll song. It’s not literature.”
Clocking in at less than two minutes, ‘It’s Only Love’ never attained the status of a memorable Beatles track. While it appeared on the original British release of Help!, the song was later included on the American version of Rubber Soul a few months later. Rubber Soul marked the end of different track listings between the American and British album versions, and perhaps songs like ‘It’s Only Love’ contributed to this change.