The release last week of the Beatles’ last song, “Now and Then,” inspired the lifestyle platform The Fresh Toast, which covers pot culture, to review the Fab Four’s relationship with weed.
As the site notes, it always was a pretty close relationship, starting the day in 1964 when Bob Dylan turned the lads on in a room at the Hotel Delmonico in New York City—a story that seems almost too perfect, but is by all accounts true—and continuing on through the decades.
But one thing The Fresh Toast missed was perhaps the weirdest song in the Beatles’ entire repertoire, which is loaded with weird songs: Paul McCartney’s 1966 “Got To Get You Into My Life.” Many people don’t realize this, but the song isn’t about a girl—or, you know, a woman. It’s a love song dedicated to… pot.
It’s no wonder that nearly everybody assumed Paul was singing about a love interest, given lines like “Ooooh, you were meant to be near me” and “Say we’ll be together every day.”
But no, it was definitely about weed, as Paul has confirmed several times. “It’s actually an ode to pot,” he told Rolling Stone, “like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret.”
Sure. People are always writing odes to chocolate. And did you know that Taylor Swift’s “Lavender Haze” is actually about a good claret? Not really.
Knowing the truth about the song puts its weirdness into stark relief. The first verse starts in a way that seems as if it could easily be a song about mind-altering substances. But by the end of that verse, the narrator is… in love.
“I was alone, I took a ride
I didn’t know what I would find there
Another road where maybe I
Could see another kind of mind there
Ooh, then I suddenly see you
Ooh, did I tell you I need you
Every single day of my life?”
The yikes continue in the second verse, where Paul applauds cannabis for not being a liar, and tells cannabis, “I just want to hold you.”
It makes total sense that the song, released just a year or so into what would be McCartney’s lifelong love affair with weed, was released on the 1966 album, Revolver. The preceding album, Rubber Soul, is often cited as marking the group’s transition away from its mop-top, Fab Four persona, though it still contained some Fab-ish elements. Revolver could be seen as the real beginning of the group’s creative flowering.
The idea that weed enhances creativity is hotly debated. As with so many of the effects of pot, it most likely varies wildly from person to person, from strain to strain and from session to session. But assessing whether pot made the Beatles more creative might be the wrong way to look at it. Often, people become more creative at about the same time they decide to open their minds to new experiences and perhaps try weed or LSD, which the Beatles were also experimenting with at this time. Would John Lennon have written “I Am The Walrus” if he’d never ingested such substances? Maybe not, but it’s certainly conceivable that he would have. Frank Zappa wrote “Freak Out” when he was perfectly straight, after all.
“Got to Get You Into My Life” is odd enough, but incredibly, there is another, somewhat similar song that might be even weirder, in that it addresses weed almost as a god. Ozzy Osbourne wrote “Sweet Leaf,” and his band Black Sabbath recorded it, in 1971. “You introduced me to my mind,” Ozzy tells a joint or a bong load or something. He continues:
“My life was empty, forever on a down
Until you took me, showed me around
My life is free now, my life is clear
I love you sweet leaf, though you can’t hear”
At least he knows the weed isn’t actually listening to him. Or anyway, he did at that point. These days, it’s easy to imagine him engaged in a deep conversation with his backyard ficus plant.