Following the sitar motif on ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, ‘Love You To’ was The Beatles’ first full attempt at recording a piece of music in the classical Indian style.
At the time George Harrison was learning the sitar from Ravi Shankar, who inspired him to learn more about Indian music and Eastern religion.
I wrote ‘Love You To’ on the sitar, because the sitar sounded so nice and my interest was getting deeper all the time. I wanted to write a tune that was specifically for the sitar. Also it had a tabla part, and that was the first time we used a tabla player.
A short extract from the song was included in the animated film Yellow Submarine, in the scene where Harrison’s character first appears.
In the studio
Recording began on 11 April 1966. Take one was George Harrison singing while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, and Paul McCartney on backing vocals. Take three saw the introduction of the sitar, which appeared again as an overdub onto take six, along with tabla, bass and fuzz guitar.
‘Love You To’ was finished on 13 April. Harrison added more vocals, Ringo Starr played tambourine, and McCartney contributed falsetto harmonies, the last of which were left out of the final mix. A brief edit piece, containing Harrison’s solo sitar, was also recorded and used as the song’s introduction.