John Lennon and Bob Dylan had so much in common in terms of their songwriting talents. Both are accepted as great musicians who inspired numerous artists during their musical careers and produced classic hits. Lennon was a worldwide-famous lyricist, praised for his work with Paul McCartney, while Dylan came up with timeless tracks which turned into anthems and influenced generations.
Both musicians were highly active during the same period, starting from the 1960s. Thus, it’s not a surprise they drew influences from each other. In the past, Dylan even gave a playful warning to Lennon in one of his songs for imitating his songwriting style. As it seems, Lennon had something to confess about this issue.
The Beatles released their fifth album ‘Help!’ in August 1965. Following its release, ‘Help!’ generally received positive reviews, and ‘Yesterday,’ which appeared on the second side, ended up being one of the most-covered songs in music history. The song ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away‘ also appeared on this album. It featured Dylanesque techniques, an acoustic guitar figure in compound duple time, no backing vocals, and light percussion from brushed snare, maraca, and tambourine. However, a flute had replaced Dylan’s signature harmonica.
“That’s me in my Dylan period again,” said John Lennon about ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.’ “I am like a chameleon, influenced by whatever is going on. If Elvis can do it, I can do it. If the Everly Brothers can do it, Paul and I can. Same with Dylan.” Paul McCartney also agreed with Lennon, saying, “The song is just basically John doing Dylan.”
“‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ is my Dylan period,” said Lennon in another statement. “It’s one of those that you sadly sing to yourself, ‘Here I stand, head in hand.’ I’d started thinking about my own emotions. I don’t know when exactly it started, like ‘I’m A Loser’ or ‘Hide Your Love Away,’ those kinds of things. Instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would try to express what I felt about myself, which I’d done in my books. I think it was Dylan who helped me realize that – not by any discussion or anything, but by hearing his work.”
The Beatles’ following release, ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),’ also had clear-cut influences from Bob Dylan. Following the song’s release on December 3, 1965, Dylan released the song ‘4th Time Around,’ featured in his 1966 album ‘Blonde On Blonde.’ The song is pretty similar to ‘Norwegian Wood’ and is regarded as a satirical warning directed at Lennon, especially due to the closing lines ‘I never asked for your crutch / Now don’t ask for mine.’
As it seems, John Lennon had already admitted that Bob Dylan heavily inspired him as the musician made him realize that he should express his feelings rather than projecting himself into a situation. The music icon even confessed that he had a ‘Dylan period,’ during which his Dylan influences led him. Looking through the events that followed ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’s release, it seems like Dylan didn’t really like being imitated by Lennon.