UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single July 7, 1967. In five days it was No. 1, where it remained for four weeks. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
UNITED STATES: Released as a single July 17, 1967. It entered the Top 40 chart July 29, hit No. 1 for one week, and spent nine weeks in the Top 40. Billboard and The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
AUTHORSHIP Lennon (1.00)
McCartney said on July 22, 1967, that the song was written in two weeks as a message to the world.
McCARTNEY: " 'All You Need Is Love' was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did the other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing "She Loves You" or "Greensleeves" or silly little things at the end and we made those up on the spot. The chorus 'All you need is love' is simple, but the verse is quite complex, in fact I never really understood it, the message is rather complex. It was a good song that we had handy that had an anthemic chorus." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
The song was written in late May 1967 for live performance via satellite on the Our World TV spectacular on June 25. Our World was the first live worldwide TV program, six hours long, and seen in twenty-four countries by an estimated 400 million people. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
It featured live performances from the various participating countries; the Beatles represented Britain and were shown recording this song.
Other nations' contributions included a Van Cliburn piano recital from the United States and segments on lady streetcar conductors in Australia, and eccentric painters in France. The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London
Recording began June 14, 1967, at Olympic Studios, where a backing track - ten minutes long - was done. The song was added to at a session at Abbey Road and shortened to six minutes. During the Our World performance, the backing track was used to which the Beatles sang and played live.
MARTIN: "[The song] had to be kept terribly secret, because the general idea was that the television viewers would actually see the Beatles at work recording their new single - although, modern recording being what it is, we obviously couldn't do that for real; so we laid down a basic rhythm track first of all. I remember that one of the minor problems was that George had got hold of a violin which he wanted to try to play, even though we couldn't!"
"I did a score for the song, a fairly arbitrary sort of arrangement since it was at such short notice. . . . The mixture I came up with was culled from the 'Marseillaise' [the French national anthem], a Bach two-part invention, 'Greensleeves,' and a little lick from 'In The Mood.' I wove them all together, at slightly different tempos so that they all still worked as separate entities." All You Need Is Ears : The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles
McCARTNEY: "George Martin always has something to do with it, but sometimes more than others. For instance, he wrote the end of 'All You Need Is Love' and got into trouble because the 'In The Mood' bit was copyrighted. We thought of all the great cliches because they're a great bit of random. It was a hurried session, and we didn't mind giving him that to do - saying, 'There's the end, we want it to go on and on.' Actually, what we wrote was much more disjointed, so when we put all the bits together we said, 'Could we have "Greensleeves" right on top of that little Bach thing?' And on top of that we had the 'In The Mood' bit.
"George is quite a sage. Sometimes he works with us, sometimes against us; he's always looked after us. I don't think he does as much as some people think. He sometimes does all the arrangements and we just change them." Beatles in Their Own Words
Lennon's lead vocal was re-recorded before this song was released as a single. All You Need Is Ears : The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles
It took five days of recording and mixing to get the song right but Paul's bass, John's vocal, George's solo and Ringo's drums, as well as the orchestra, were all broadcast live during the event. The Beatles invited Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick and Marianne and dozens of other friends to the session, which was staged as a party in Studio One at Abbey Road. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCARTNEY: string bass played with a bow
HARRISON: violin (first time he ever played it)
ABBEY ROAD TRACK
McCARTNEY: electric bass
LENNON: lead vocal
GEORGE MARTIN: piano
SESSION MUSICIANS: two trumpets, two trombones, two saxophones, one accordion, four violins, and two cellos
LIVE OUR WORLD PERFORMANCE
McCARTNEY: backing vocal
LENNON: lead vocal
HARRISON: backing vocal
A studio orchestra
Chorus included: Mick Jagger, Gary Leeds, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithful, Jane Asher, Patti Harrison, Keith Moon, and Graham Nash
Lennon and McCartney sang a chorus of "She Loves You" as the song faded.
The group produced the single faster than any other: written in late May, recorded by June 25, and released on July 7 (in the United Kingdom). "A Hard Day's Night" was written and recorded in less time but not released as quickly.
At the Abbey Road session, McCartney wore a shirt he painted himself.
McCARTNEY: "I stayed up all night the night before. I didn't mean to but I was drawing on a shirt. I had these pen things that you used to draw with and the ink didn't wash out. I stayed up all night doing it, and the shirt was nicked the next day. Who has it, I don't know. One of these days Sotheby's [an auction house] will tell." It Was Twenty Years Ago Today
COMMENTS BY BEATLES
HARRISON: "John has an amazing thing with his timing - he always comes across with very different time signatures, you know. For example, on 'All You Need Is Love' it just sort of skips a beat here and there and changes time. But when you question him as to what it is he's actually doing, he really doesn't know. He just does it naturally. . . ." The Beatles: A Celebration
McCARTNEY: "We had been told we'd be seen recording it by the whole world at the same time. So we had one message for the world - love. We need more love in the world." July 1967, McCartney: The Definitive Biography
McCARTNEY: "I don't know what you need." The London Times (May 30, 1987)
COMMENTS BY OTHERS
ALBERT GORE, politician, and wife TIPPER, crusader against "obscene" rock lyrics, played this song as their wedding recessional. Newsweek (December 21, 1987)
BRIAN EPSTEIN: "It is a wonderful, beautiful, spine-chilling record. It cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." July 1967, Melody Maker via 20 Years
KEITH RICHARDS, Rolling Stones: "Try livin' off of it." RS (December 10, 1987)