Can’t Buy Me Love – 2 of Cups
A Hard Days Night, 1964
“Can’t Buy Me Love” was one of the Beatles’ all-time biggest hits, reaching number one all over the world. Notably, it was at the top of the Billboard 100 Chart the week that the Beatles held all the top five spots, an accomplishment that’s never been repeated. The song appears memorably during the film A Hard Day’s Night, in a lively sequence that shows the Fab Four frolicking merrily in a park.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” was written by Paul in January of 1964. The Beatles were in Paris at the time, hosting a multiple-week residency at the city’s Olympia Theatre. McCartney composed the song as a blues number, but the band quickly changed the arrangement in the recording studio. Taking the advice of producer George Martin, the Beatles opened the song with the high-energy chorus and cut all the vocal harmonies.
Lyrically, “Can’t Buy Me Love” is about the limitations of monetary success. Beatlemania was blooming and the Fab Four were accomplishing levels of fame and money like they’d never imagined possible. Yet for all the wonderful perks that came with their accomplishments, what most mattered to the singer of this song was finding true love. Over its dizzying 2:12 runtime, we hear how he would give up all that money just to find an emotional connection to that one special someone.
The tarot’s 2 of Cups corresponds nicely with this song. We can appreciate this card’s meaning by considering the dynamics of the number 2 and the suit of Cups. The suit of Cups symbolizes the element Water and all matters of emotion. And the number 2, not surprisingly, symbolizes an exchange or interplay between two people. The singer of “Can’t Buy Me Love” has plenty of money, (which incidentally is symbolized by the suit of Pentacles in the tarot deck), but what he really wants is a love connection. And the 2 of Cups is about the things we give and receive in this kind of emotionally-based relationship.
A truly loving connection is likely to make you feel the kind of gleeful exuberance we hear in “Can’t Buy Me Love”. It may even make you want to frolic in a park, jumping and dancing like the four Beatles in that scene from A Hard Day’s Night. When you draw the 2 of Cups consider the nature of a loving relationship in your life. What are you willing to give in order to receive what your heart most desires?
“I’ll give you all I’ve got to give
If you say you love me too
I may not have a lot to give
But what I’ve got, I’ll give to you.”
*As a sidenote, I find a fascinating contrast between Paul’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” and John’s “I Feel Fine”, released less than a year later. They were both #1 hits; they both feature lyrics about giving “diamond rings”; and they’re both about the dynamics of a loving relationship, corresponding to the 2 of Cups. Notice how the contrast of these two songs reveal a perfect early example of Paul and John playing to type: Paul’s song is nakedly sincere, while John’s is more cynical. They’re two equally successful songs on the same topic, each expressed in the unique style of their composer.
This is song #80 of the Beatles Song Tarot Project. Click here to learn more about this magical, mystical trip through the Beatles catalogue. (Scroll down to enjoy a live version of “Can’t Buy Me Love”!)