Love You To

Love You To

"Love You To"
Cover of the Northern Songs sheet music
Song by the Beatles from the album Revolver
Published Northern Songs
Released 5 August 1966
Recorded 11 and 13 April 1966,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Indian music,[1] raga rock
Length 3:01
Label Parlophone
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Martin
Revolver track listing

"Love You To" is a song by sitar and tabla. "Love You To" was the first Beatles song to fully reflect the influence of Indian classical music, following Harrison's sitar playing on "Norwegian Wood" in 1965. The recording features minimal participation from Harrison's bandmates; instead, he created the track with tabla player Anil Bhagwat and other Indian musicians from the Asian Music Circle in London.

Harrison wrote the composition partly as a love song to his wife, Pattie Boyd. He drew musical inspiration from the work of master sitarist Ravi Shankar, who became Harrison's sitar tutor shortly after the song's recording.

"Love You To" has been hailed by musicologists and critics as groundbreaking in its presentation of a non-Western musical form to rock audiences, with regard to authenticity and avoidance of parody. As such, the song introduced Western pop music fans to the Indian music that Harrison would promote for the rest of his career. Ronnie Montrose, Bongwater, Jim James and Cornershop are among the artists who have covered "Love You To".


  • Background and inspiration 1
  • Composition 2
  • Recording 3
  • Release 4
  • Critical reception 5
  • Retrospective assessment and legacy 6
  • Cover versions 7
  • Personnel 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Sources 11
  • External links 12

Background and inspiration

To me, [Indian classical music] is the only really great music now, and it makes Western three-or-four-beat type stuff seem somehow dead. You can get so much more out of it if you are prepared really to concentrate and listen.[2]

– George Harrison, 1966

Having added [2][4] He said that the composition was also designed to feature the tabla, a pair of Indian hand drums, for the first time.[5][6] Music critic Richie Unterberger describes the song as the Beatles' "first all-out excursion" in raga rock,[7] a genre that author Nicholas Schaffner says was "launched" by Harrison's use of sitar on "Norwegian Wood".[8]

Harrison wrote the song in early 1966,[4] while the Beatles were enjoying an unusually long period free of professional commitments,[9] due to their inability to find a suitable film project.[10] He used the available time to further explore his interest in Indian classical music and the sitar,[11] which, journalist Maureen Cleave noted in a contemporary article on Harrison, "has given new meaning to [his] life".[12] Harrison's activities included receiving sitar tuition from an Indian musician at the Asian Music Circle (AMC) in north London,[13] where he also attended music recitals,[4] and seeing Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar perform at the Royal Festival Hall.[12] As reflected in "Love You To",[14] Harrison continued to immerse himself in recordings by Shankar,[13] who, when the pair met at the AMC's headquarters in June 1966, would agree to take Harrison as his student.[15][16]

As he seldom had titles for his songs,[17] the working title for the new composition was "Granny Smith".[18][19][nb 1] The song was partly inspired by Harrison's experimentation with the hallucinogenic drug LSD.[21][22] Author Ian MacDonald views the lyrics as "part philosophical" and "part love-song" to Pattie Boyd,[23] the English model whom Harrison married in January 1966.[24]


"Love You To" is in the key of C and follows the pitches of Kafi thaat, the Indian equivalent of Dorian mode.[25] The composition emulates the khyal vocal tradition of Hindustani (or North Indian) classical music.[1] Harrison begins by twice stroking his sitar's resonating strings (a common technique before the opening alap segment of a raga).[1] In the alap section (lasting 35 seconds)[26] the melody is previewed, before the tabla, tambura and percussion commence a madhya laya (medium tempo) gat.[1] Author Jonathan Gould views the song's alap section, "filled with croaking drones, pregnant pauses and softly elasticized notes", as "one of the most brazenly exotic acts of stylistic experimentation ever heard on a popular LP".[27]

Musicologists Russell Reising and Jim LeBlanc consider that the lack of a clearly measured tempo in this overture "sets musical and, in this particular context, spiritual time adrift" – before the song fully begins and Harrison observes that "Each day just goes so fast".[28] During the gat section, which constitutes the majority of the song, "Love You To" conforms to a basic I-flatVII sparse chord structure with 8-bar verse A sections and 12-bar B sections in an ABAB pattern.[29] The "meditative harmonic coloring" provided by the tambura drone complements the worldview expressed in the lyric, which is answered differently by the sitar in each verse.[28][25] The instrumental passage before the final verse features sitar and tabla playing in cycles of seven, five and then three beats.[30] The final section of the composition – the drut (fast tempo) gat – begins shortly before the recording starts to fade out, following the line "I'll make love to you, if you want me to."[31][32] The change of metre in the song marks the first such example in the Beatles' work; it would shortly be repeated in John Lennon's composition "She Said, She Said",[33] which Harrison helped complete by joining together three separate pieces that Lennon had written.[34]

Mark Hertsgaard writes of Harrison's message in the song: "The response to the fleetingness of time was to affirm and celebrate life: 'make love all day long / make love singing songs.'"[21] According to author Ian Inglis, the lyrics "remind us that in a world of material dissatisfaction and moral disharmony, there is always the solace of sexual pleasure".[35]


"Love You To" was the third track the Beatles recorded for their 1966 album Revolver, after "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Got to Get You Into My Life".[36] Author Robert Rodriguez comments that "Love You To" "[made] explicit the Indian influence implicit throughout the entire album",[37] as songs such as "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Got to Get You Into My Life", together with the non-album B-side "Rain", all incorporate drone sounds or otherwise display a minimum of harmonic movement typical of the genre.[38][39][nb 2]

The basic track for "Love You To" was taped in London at EMI's Abbey Road Studios on 11 April 1966.[42][43] According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, Harrison initially sang and played acoustic guitar, accompanied by Paul McCartney on backing vocals. By the end of the first session that day, three takes of the song had been made, with Harrison introducing his sitar on the last of these takes. Work resumed at 8 pm,[42] with the participation of some Indian musicians that Harrison had sourced through Patricia Angadi, the co-founder of the Asian Music Circle.[44] These outside contributors included tabla player Anil Bhagwat[26] and uncredited musicians on tambura and sitar.[23]

A chap called [Ayana] Angadi called me and asked if I was free that evening to work with George ... he didn't say it was Harrison. It was only when a Rolls-Royce came to pick me up that I realised I'd be playing on a Beatles session. When I arrived at Abbey Road there were girls everywhere with Thermos flasks, cakes, sandwiches, waiting for the Beatles to come out.[42]

– Anil Bhagwat, 1988

Bhagwat later recalled of his involvement: "George told me what he wanted and I tuned the tabla with him. He suggested I play something in the Ravi Shankar style, 16-beats, though he agreed that I should improvise. Indian music is all improvisation."[42]

The double hand-drum tabla features prominently on the recording, along with sitar.

With take 6 selected as the best performance, a reduction mix was carried out on 13 April, freeing up space for more overdubs onto the four-track tape.[45] Harrison added another vocal part onto what was now referred to as take 7, and Ringo Starr played tambourine. McCartney contributed a high harmony vocal over the words "They'll fill you in with all the sins you see", but this part was omitted from the final mix.[46][nb 3] Harrison also overdubbed fuzz-tone electric guitar,[48] controlling the output via a volume pedal.[47] Producer Tony Visconti has marvelled at the guitar sounds the Beatles introduced on Revolver, particularly Harrison's part on "Love You To", which he says "sounds like a chainsaw cutting down a tree in Vermont".[49]

Credit for the main sitar part on "Love You To" has traditionally been the subject of some debate among commentators.[13][50] While MacDonald makes an unreferenced claim that, rather than Harrison, it was the sitarist from the AMC who played this part,[23] Rodriguez writes that "others point to [Harrison's] single-minded diligence in mastering the instrument, as well as his study through private lessons, proximity to accomplished musicians, and close listening to pertinent records."[13] In his official history of the Beatles' recording career, [42] Musicologist Walter Everett also identifies Harrison as the sitar player on the recording,[51] as does Peter Lavezzoli, author of The Dawn of Indian Music in the West,[1] and Harrison biographer Simon Leng. The latter comments that, as on "Norwegian Wood", Harrison "is still playing the sitar like a guitar player [on the recording], using blues and rock 'n' roll bends rather than the intensely intricate Indian equivalents".[52][nb 4]

Final mixing for the song took place on 21 June[53] as the Beatles rushed to complete Revolver before beginning the first leg of their 1966 world tour.[54][55] Harrison discussed "Love You To" with Shankar when the two musicians met that month,[56] at a social event hosted by the Angadi family.[4][57] Although he was unaware of the band's popularity and had yet to hear "Norwegian Wood",[44] Shankar was impressed with Harrison's humility[58] as the guitarist downplayed his sitar recordings with the Beatles as "experiments".[59][nb 5] Soon after this meeting, Shankar gave Harrison his first sitar lesson at Kinfauns, his and Boyd's home in Surrey,[15][67] and later, with tablist Alla Rakha,[68] performed a private recital there for Harrison, Lennon and Starr.[14][69]


Revolver was released on 5 August 1966, with "Love You To" sequenced as the fourth track.[70][71][nb 6] By that point, the Beatles' association with Indian music had been further established[16][75] when, at Harrison's suggestion, the band stopped over in Delhi on the return flight from their Far East tour.[76][77] Visiting the premises of Rikhi Ram & Sons,[16] Harrison, Lennon and McCartney each purchased a sitar.[75][nb 7] Bhagwat's name appeared on the LP's back cover, one of the few times that an outside musician received an official credit on a Beatles album.[48][81]

Among commentators recalling the song's release, Barry Miles describes "Love You To" as having "sounded astonishing next to the electrifying pop of the Revolver album".[82] Hertsgaard writes: "what caught most people's interest was the exotic rhythm track. The opening descent of shimmering harplike notes beckoned even those who resisted Indian music, while the lyrics melded the mysticism of the East ... with the pragmatism of the West, and the hedonism of youth culture."[21]

In his 1977 book The Beatles Forever, Schaffner wrote that, next to the dominant Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership, Harrison's three compositions on Revolver – "Love You To", "Taxman" and "I Want to Tell You" – "offered ample indication that there were now three prolific songwriting Beatles".[83] Schaffner also commented that, through his championing of the sitar and Shankar's music, Harrison came to be seen as "the maharaja of raga-rock", as other Western musicians began adopting Indian musical stylings.[84][nb 8] In the Beatles' 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine, a brief portion of the song is used to introduce Harrison's character,[86] as a guru-like figure,[87] standing on a hill.[88][89]

Critical reception

In a joint album review with Peter Jones for Record Mirror, Richard Green enthused about the song, saying: "Starts like a classical Indian recital ... This is great. So different. Play it again! Best [track] so far."[90] In the NME, Allen Evans lauded Harrison's sitar playing as "stunning" and "tremendous" before concluding: "Fascinating mixture of minor melody with Indian accompaniment. One of the most striking tracks."[91]

Writing in the recently launched Crawdaddy!, Paul Williams "heaped praise" on "Love You To", according to Rodriguez,[92] while critic Lester Bangs termed it "the first injection of ersatz Eastern wisdom into rock".[82] The majority of contemporary US reviews were lukewarm towards Revolver, however, in reaction to the publication of Lennon's statement that the Beatles had become more popular than Christ.[93] An exception was New York critic Richard Goldstein, who praised the album as "a revolutionary record",[92] and later wrote that the song's lyrics "exploded with a passionate sutra quality".[94] While bemoaning the initial lack of recognition for Revolver, KRLA Beat‍ '​s reviewer said that Harrison had "created a new extension of the music form which he introduced in Rubber Soul", and described "Love You To" as "Well done and musically valid. Also musically unrecognized."[95]

Retrospective assessment and legacy

Writing in the journal Asian Music, ethnomusicologist David Reck has cited "Love You To" as being revolutionary in Western culture, adding: "One cannot emphasise how absolutely unprecedented this piece is in the history of popular music. For the first time an Asian music was not parodied utilising familiar stereotypes and misconceptions, but rather transferred in toto into a new environment with sympathy and rare understanding."[96][52] Reck views it as the first in "a series of finely crafted Indian-based songs" by Harrison and admires the range of authentic Hindustani musical elements, saying: "All of this in a three-minute song!"[97] Peter Lavezzoli describes "Love You To" as "the first conscious attempt in pop to emulate a non-Western form of music in structure and instrumentation".[1] Lavezzoli says of the sitar part: "[Harrison's] playing throughout the song is an astonishing improvement over 'Norwegian Wood'. In fact, 'Love You To' remains the most accomplished performance on sitar by any rock musician."[1]

Reviewing Harrison's musical career in a 2002 issue of [98] Rolling Stone contributor Greg Kot pairs "Love You To" with "Taxman" as two "major contributions" that saw Harrison "[come] into his own as a songwriter" on Revolver. Kot describes "Love You To" as "a boldly experimental track that Harrison records without his band mates as he makes the first full-scale incorporation of Eastern instruments on a Beatles album".[66] Writing on his music website Elsewhere, Graham Reid views the track as a "classic" due to its standing as "arguably the first [song] in Western pop … which owes nothing to pop music traditions. It is an Indian song in its structure and execution."[99]

AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine considers "Love You To" to be Harrison's "first and best foray into Indian music",[100] while Bruce Eder, also writing for AllMusic, views it as "exquisite".[101] In his song review for the same website, Richie Unterberger is unimpressed with the track; while acknowledging that "Love You To" was "Undoubtedly ... another indication of the group's rapidly broadening barriers", he cites a lead vocal that "drone[s] on in a rather lugubrious way", Harrison's slightly "disheveled" sitar playing, and lyrics that constitute "a rather muddled mix of free love advocacy, meditations on the transience of life on Earth, and chip-on-the-shoulder wariness of people out to exploit him".[7] Although he finds the melody "sourly repetitious in its author's usual saturnine vein", Ian MacDonald writes that the track is "distinguished by the authenticity of its Hindustani classical instrumentation and techniques", and admires Harrison's understanding of the genre.[23] In a 2009 review, for Paste magazine, Mark Kemp described Revolver as the album on which the Beatles "completed their transformation from the mop tops of three years earlier into bold, groundbreaking experimental rockers", and added: "Harrison's 'Love You To' is pure Indian raga – sitar and tablas punctuated by the occasional luminous guitar riff jolting through the song's paranoid, drug-fueled lyrics like a blinding ray of sun into a dark forest."[102]

Cover versions

The Trypes, an offshoot of the Feelies, covered "Love You To" on their 1984 EP The Explorers Hold.[103] A version by Ronnie Montrose, titled "Love to You", appeared on his album Territory in 1986.[104] The song was covered by experimental rock band Bongwater in 1988 on their debut album Double Bummer.[105]

My Morning Jacket singer Jim James included "Love You To" on his 2009 EP Tribute To,[106] a collection of Harrison songs that James recorded shortly after the former Beatle's death in November 2001.[107][108] In 2011, Solid Gold covered the song on the Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 3 compilation.[109] The following year, Cornershop recorded it for Yellow Submarine Resurfaces,[110] a multi-artist compilation issued by Mojo magazine.[111]


According to Kenneth Womack[112] and Ian MacDonald:[23][nb 9]


  1. ^ Named as such by Geoff Emerick, the Beatles' recording engineer,[13] this makeshift title remained in place until the completion of the band's Revolver album, on 22 June 1966.[20]
  2. ^ In addition, "Rain" and "I Want to Tell You" include the vocal melismas commonly used in Indian composition.[40] Indian musical stylings similarly inform the guitar solos on "I'm Only Sleeping" and "Taxman".[41]
  3. ^ McCartney's singing was retained elsewhere in the verses, however.[47]
  4. ^ In Everett's estimation, the part on "Love You To" "would have required knowledge of no ragas and only an elementary understanding of Hindustani formal patterns, easily attainable by a good guitarist within a few weeks".[50]
  5. ^ Shankar was later dismissive of the link made during the 1960s between Indian music and the prevailing liberal attitude towards sex[60][61] and drugs.[62][63] After "Love You To", according to Lavezzoli, Harrison "took greater care" when writing the lyrics to his next Indian-stlyle song, "Within You Without You", which was influenced by his introduction to Vedic philosophy[64] while in India with Shankar over September–October 1966.[65][66]
  6. ^ On the abbreviated US version of the album, it appeared as the third track,[72] since Capitol Records had already issued "I'm Only Sleeping" on the Yesterday and Today compilation in June 1966.[73][74] American pressings of Revolver also differed by mis-titling the song "Love You Too".[47]
  7. ^ Having used a cheap model purchased from the Indiacraft store in London for "Norwegian Wood" and "Love You To",[78][79] Harrison bought a top-quality sitar in Delhi, along with some other Indian instruments.[80]
  8. ^ Schaffner considered "Love You To" to be "sprawling and listless", however, in comparison to other examples of "Beatle raga-rock" – namely, "Norwegian Wood" and Harrison's later compositions "Within You Without You" and "The Inner Light".[85]
  9. ^ Consistent with his querying the extent of Harrison's sitar playing on the track, MacDonald includes a question mark after the sitar credit he gives Harrison, as he does for McCartney's vocal credit.[23] In his list of personnel, Womack adds bass guitar to Harrison's sitar and guitar contributions.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lavezzoli 2006, p. 175.
  2. ^ a b The Beatles 2000, p. 209.
  3. ^ MacDonald 1998, pp. 144, 146.
  4. ^ a b c d Tillery 2011, p. 55.
  5. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 102.
  6. ^ a b Womack 2014, p. 583.
  7. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "'"The Beatles 'Love You To.  
  8. ^ Schaffner 1978, pp. 66, 68.
  9. ^ Rodriguez 2012, pp. 7–8.
  10. ^ Miles 2001, p. 237.
  11. ^ MacDonald 1998, p. 164.
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  14. ^ a b Clayson 2003, p. 201.
  15. ^ a b Tillery 2011, pp. 55–56.
  16. ^ a b c Lavezzoli 2006, pp. 176, 177.
  17. ^ Rodriguez 2012, pp. 114, 143.
  18. ^ Lewisohn 2005, pp. 72–73.
  19. ^ MacDonald 1998, p. 172fn.
  20. ^ Everett 1999, pp. 40, 65.
  21. ^ a b c Hertsgaard 1996, p. 184.
  22. ^ Rodriguez 2012, p. 66.
  23. ^ a b c d e f MacDonald 1998, p. 172.
  24. ^ Tillery 2011, pp. 29–30, 160.
  25. ^ a b Everett 1999, p. 41.
  26. ^ a b Inglis 2010, p. 7.
  27. ^ Gould 2007, p. 353.
  28. ^ a b Reising & LeBlanc 2009, p. 96.
  29. ^ Pedler 2003, p. 731.
  30. ^ Reck 2009, p. 297.
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  32. ^ Everett 1999, p. 42.
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  69. ^ Lavezzoli 2006, p. 177.
  70. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 55.
  71. ^ MacDonald 1998, pp. 172, 442.
  72. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 56.
  73. ^ Rodriguez 2012, pp. 25–26, 246.
  74. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 201.
  75. ^ a b Schaffner 1978, p. 55.
  76. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 223.
  77. ^ Miles 2001, p. 236.
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  80. ^ Tillery 2011, pp. 56, 160.
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  82. ^ a b Miles 2001, p. 238.
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  84. ^ Schaffner 1978, pp. 63, 65–66.
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  106. ^ Anderson, Stacey (September 2009). "Tribute To"Yim Yames .  
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External links

  • Full lyrics for the song at the Beatles' official website
  • Alan W. Pollack's "Love You To"Notes on