The song first came out on Lennon's 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. "Love" later appeared on the 1982 compilation The John Lennon Collection, and was released as a promotional tie-in single for the collection. The single version is a remix of the original track, which most notably differs in having the piano intro and outro (played by Phil Spector) mixed at the same volume as the rest of the song; on the original album version, these parts begin much quieter and increase in volume. B-side was "Gimme Some Truth", but labelled as "Give Me Some Truth".
The picture on the sleeve for 1982 release of "Love" was taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz on 8 December 1980—the very day of Lennon's murder.
Like the 1982 British issue, the original version of the song was released as a single again in October 1998 for the Japanese market only with the Japanese edition of another compilation Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon, and gained moderate success on Japan's Oricon chart.
The Dream Academy covered this song in their 1990 album A Different Kind of Weather, and also released as a single (CD, cassette, and vinyl formats are available). The single featured a strong Indian theme throughout (evident in the music video). The song sampled the Funky drummer drum break. Like the album it was released on, A Different Kind of Weather it received mixed reviews. Many critics and fans felt that they over-stretched it. The CD single included six different mixes of the song along with "Mordechai Vanunu", which was written for Mordechai Vanunu. A second B-side, called "The Demonstration" can be found on the UK CD single version. There are also exclusive remixes issued on the cassette and 12" single. As it turned out, this was the band's penultimate single and has an accompanying video that was shot in India.
The Lettermen recorded the song for a 1971 single. This single became a top 20 hit on the Japanese Oricon singles chart and hit number 42 on the US BillboardHot 100 chart, becoming the only charting version of the song in the US and the last charting single of the group's career. In the same year, Barbra Streisand also covered the song on her eponymous album, along with another Lennon composition "Mother".Allmusic critic William Ruhlmann described Streisand's "delicate reading" as a "gem."
The song was later covered by Vicky Leandros (on her 1970 UK album "I Am", a guitar version in 1971 in various releases, an a cappella version on her US album "Across The Water" and a new guitar version with Roland Gabezas in 2005 "Ich bin wie ich bin"), Shirley Bassey (on her 1972 album I Capricorn), Kenny Loggins, Asha Puthli, The Mission and The Cure. Jimmy Nail's version, featured on his album Big River, was also released as a single on 8 December 1995 (the 15th anniversary of Lennon's death), and peaked at number 33 in the UK charts.