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“And I Love Her”

Lennon & McCartney create a gem

by Keith Purtell

George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney as The Quarrymen in 1958
George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney as The Quarrymen in 1958 (photographer unknown)

Imbedded in the midst of the Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night”, “And I Love Her” is a dark and mysterious gem of songwriting. With cunning subtlety, no wasted notes and an awareness beyond their years, the boys from Liverpool penned a poignant love song imbued with hope, fear and sadness, and the sense of romance as something born in the unplumbed depths of the universe.

This wasn’t the only time they transcended their “cute and funny” image and express wisdom beyond their years.

Two other examples are “When I’m Sixty-four”
“When I get older losing my hair, Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a valentine /
Birthday greetings bottle of wine? /
If I'd been out till quarter to three /
Would you lock the door, Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I'm sixty-four?”

... and “Getting Better”
“I used to be cruel to my woman /
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved /
Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene /
And I'm doing the best that I can (Ooh) /
I admit it's getting better (Better) /
A little better all the time (It can't get more worse) /
Yes I admit it's getting better (Better) /
It's getting better since you've been mine”

And there's yet another example of suprising depth to their lyrics, which I suppose just got lost in the fervor of Beatlemania: “Girl.” Melodically, the song comes across like a young man's adoration for his capricious lover. That melody and its emotional aura make it easy to overlook more serious themes woven into the words:
“Was she told when she was young that pain /
Would lead to pleasure? /
Did she understand it when they said /
That a man must break his back to earn /
His day of leisure? /
Will she still believe it when he's dead? /
Ah girl, girl, girl /
Ah girl, girl, girl”

How did these two young men possess the maturity and foresight to create such vulnerable and worldly recordings while only in their 20s?

“And I Love Her” makes use of deceptively simple harmonic quirks and rides on a shifting musical foundation. It seems to rely in part on some Romany European tradition, yet it is free of the constraints of a standard folk or pop song.

The song like many of the best that John and Paul wrote, has been subject to every kind of scrutiny. It could just as easily be pondered by a poet or philosopher. Better yet, absorb its mysteries and make it yours.

They tapped into a deep wellspring of emotion; “And I Love Her” seems not so much like a pop tune as it does a haunting plea for warmth from inside the eternal night of loneliness. Two minutes and 28 seconds of purity.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the late 1950s
John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the late 1950s (photographer unknown)