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Some classic rock songs have a double meaning that might not be apparent to everyone. A punk rocker said The Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” was about the love life of The Beatles’ gay manager, Brian Epstein. John Lennon discussed the song as well. He said it was inspired by another rock star from the 1960s.

A star said The Beatles’ ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ has gender-swapped lines

Tom Robinson is an English punk rock and new wave singer who has extensively campaigned for LGBTQ rights. During a 2013 interview with The Guardian, he discussed the role of music in his life. “I had a nervous breakdown when I was 16, largely due to the stress of growing up gay, which was illegal back then,” he said. “I was sent to a sort of retreat, where I was taught to accept myself. It also exposed me to all sorts of music.”

Of course, LGBTQ people were not as visible in the media back then. “In the ’60s, there wasn’t a single public figure who was openly gay, so we had no role models, no mentions of homosexuality,” he said. “John Lennon sang ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,’ almost certainly about Brian Epstein’s sexuality, but the gender was changed: ‘If she’s gone, I can’t go on.'”

John Lennon said ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’ showed he could mimic anyone

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features a 1980 interview. In it, John acknowledged Epstein’s homosexuality. However, he never mentioned him in connection with “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”

Instead, John said “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” was inspired by another 1960s luminary: Bob Dylan. “That’s me in my Dylan period again,” he said. “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, me and Paul can. Same with Dylan.” John cited another song from the same era, “I’m a Loser,” as a Dylan homage. John’s words didn’t confirm or deny Robinson’s interpretation of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”


Why John Lennon Sang a Love Song to The Beatles’ Manager

The Beatles’ manager received an honor at the same time as The Rolling Stones’ manager

While Epstein and his personal life were never as prominent as The Beatles and their personal lives, he remains one of the most respected managers in the history of music. In 2014, he became one of the few non-musicians to get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, alongside The Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. He was inducted by Peter Asher of the British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon. There is also a statue of Epstein in Liverpool. It’s not every day that a behind-the-scenes person is honored in such an incredible way!

Whether “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” is about Epstein or not, classic rock fans will always owe him a debt of gratitude.