You've got to hide your love away
It was rumored that this was the first gay rock song, a message to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who was gay. In the part of The Beatles Anthology, that covers Epstein's death, this song is played, giving credence to the idea that this song was indeed a song about hiding one's homosexuality.
John Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971, that when he wrote this, he was just knocking out pop songs, without expressing his own personal emotions to any great extent: He explained: "I was in Kenwood (his home at the time) and I would just be songwriting. The period would be for songwriting and so every day I would attempt to write a song and it's one of those that you sort of sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand, head in hand...'"
Lennon then went on to say how listening to Bob Dylan was beginning to influence his songwriting around the time he wrote this. He recalled: "I started thinking about my own emotions - I don't know when exactly it started like 'I'm a Loser' or 'Hide Your Love Away' or those kind of things, instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would just try to express what I felt about myself which I'd done in me books. I think it was Dylan who helped me realize that - not by any discussion or anything but just by hearing his work - I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing pop songs; he would turn out a certain style of song for a single and we would do a certain style of thing for this and the other thing. I was already a stylized songwriter on the first album. But to express myself I would write Spaniard in the Works or In His Own Write, the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions.
The line "feeling 2 foot small" was written "feeling 2 foot tall." Lennon sang it wrong but liked it and left it that way.
Session musicians played flutes. It was the first time outsiders played on a Beatles record.
Lennon's friend Pete Shotton came up with the "Heys" in the chorus.