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“The Word”

Listen to “The Word”
  • Published on 1965
  • Author: Lennon/McCartney
  • Track 6 on “Rubber Soul

JOHN 1980: “‘The Word’ was written together (with Paul), but it’s mainly mine. You read the words, it’s all about gettin’ smart. It’s the marijuana period. It’s love. It’s a love and peace thing. The word is ‘love,’ right?”

PAUL circa-1994: “We smoked a bit of pot, then we wrote out a multi-colored lyric sheet, the first time we’d ever done that. We normally didn’t smoke when we were working.”

About “The Word”

The song was co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Musically, the song is founded on a driving funk beat, with few chord changes and a simple melody in the key of D major.

In his review for the 50th anniversary of Rubber Soul, Jacob Albano of Classic Rock Review writes that “The Word” is the first song on its parent album not to be “absolutely excellent,” calling the harmonies “a bit too forced.” However, Albano still considered the song “entertaining”, and complimented the “piano backdrop” and Starr’s drum performance.

In 2018, the music staff of Time Out London ranked “The Word” at number 33 on their list of the best Beatles songs.

Meaning of “The Word”

The lyrics of “The Word” convey a message of love and positivity. The central idea is that “the word” is love, and that love is the key to understanding and improving the world. The song suggests that love has the power to bring people together, create positive change, and ultimately lead to a better, more harmonious existence.

The chorus of the song repeats the phrase “Say the word and you’ll be free,” emphasizing the liberating and transformative nature of love.

In the context of the mid-1960s, when the song was written and released, this message of love and unity was resonant with the countercultural movements and the ethos of the time. The Beatles, along with many artists and activists of the era, were advocating for social change, and love was often seen as a unifying force in these movements.

“The Word” is celebrated for its uplifting and optimistic message, as well as its catchy melody and harmonically rich composition. It remains one of The Beatles’ well-regarded tracks.


  • John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – falsetto and double-tracked backing vocals, bass, piano
  • George Harrison – double-tracked backing vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, maracas
  • George Martin – harmonium

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