video montage in the Anthology series seems to offer at least tentative validation of this theory.
There are many tales of John treating Brian with stinging, offhand cruelty; they shared a deep and complex relationship. But, as ever, beneath Lennon's macho bluster, there beat the heart of a sensitive soul who was capable of an achingly melancholy portrait like this. He knew his friend was hurting, so he sang this song as a special message.
Richard Furnstein: Yeah, it sure was a sensitive soul that changed the lyrics of "Baby You're A Rich Man" to "Baby, you're a rich fag jew" or suggested that Brian's autobiography be titled "A Cellarful of Boys" instead of "A Cellarful of Noise." A sensitive man with a deep soul that picked on developmentally disabled and limbless children on stage. Don't let the "Imagine" repackaging of Lennon fool you, he was full of anger at himself and the world. His ego was constantly either readily crushed or ready to devour and destroy innocents in his path. Still, this song is a goddamned beaut. He finally matches the lyrical weight and simple melodic flow of hero-of-the-period Bob Dylan.
Lennon did admit that he let Epstein "toss him off" in a Barcelona getaway. So maybe that trumps all the tough guy posturing and old guard rock and roll machismo. And this song really does excel through Lennon's gentle touch and soft eyes. It's a look that he turned to more frequently after Help! (the last album that dipped into the legendary rock and roll toilets of Hamburg) and Lennon's soft persona would come to trump his early rock fury. Even George Harrison gets in on the progressive love action, making eyes at a thick eyebrowed man in the film clip for "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."
Robert Bunter: As author Nicholas Schaffner pointed out (in his immortal "The Beatles Forever," McGraw-Hill, 1977), Lennon is in Dylan mode here, but right when you'd expect the harmonica to come in, it turns out it's flutes (the first instance of outside musicians brought into a Beatles session, if you don't count George Martin and Andy White).
Richard Furnstein: And I don't. I don't count them. George Martin was a legit Beatle; total inner circle. Don't get me started on Andy White and his pointless thump-for-hire. We should never mention him again.
Robert Bunter: The Beatles really reach out and touch our hearts with this one. They were the greatest band ever. Let Me Tell You About The Beatles would like to dedicate this post to the memory of Brian Epstein and Nicholas Schaffner, in hopeful anticipation of a day when people don't have to hide their love away anymore.
Richard Furnstein: A real tear. Keep resting in peace, Brian!