Thursday, October 08, 2009

"All You Need Is Love"

"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first live global television link. Broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 400 million, the programme was broadcast via satellite on June 25, 1967. The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the UK's contribution. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #362 in their 500 greatest songs of all time.


Asked to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalities, Lennon's "All You Need Is Love" extended the message he first tried in "The Word", from The Beatles' 1965 album Rubber Soul. "It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message," said Brian Epstein. "The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." Lennon was fascinated by the power of slogans to unite people and never afraid to create art out of propaganda. When asked in 1971 whether songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Power to the People" were propaganda songs, he answered, "Sure. So was 'All You Need Is Love'. I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change."

The Beatles decided the song should be their next single the day before the Our World broadcast. Released in the UK on July 7, it went straight to No. 1 and remained there for three weeks. It was similarly successful in the US, reaching No. 1 for a week (appearing on the American LP version of Magical Mystery Tour in November).

It was the last song both recorded and released by the band before the death of Brian Epstein on August 27, 1967, little more than a month after the song was released.

The interviews on The Beatles Anthology documentary series reveal that Paul McCartney and George Harrison were unsure whether the song was written for Our World. However, George Martin and Ringo Starr assert it was. When asked, McCartney replied:

"I don't think it was written specially for it. But it was one of the songs we had. [...] It was certainly tailored to it once we had it. But I've got a feeling it was just one of John's songs that was coming there. We went down to Olympic Studios in Barnes and recorded it and then it became the song they said, 'Ah. This is the one we should use.' I don't actually think it was written for it."

Live broadcast

For the broadcast, the Beatles were (except for Ringo) seated on stools, accompanied by a small studio orchestra. They were surrounded by friends and acquaintances seated on the floor, who sang with the refrain during the fade-out, including Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, and Kim McLagan. Lennon, affecting indifference, was said to be nervous about the broadcast, given the potential size of the international TV audience. Dissatisfied with his singing, he re-recorded the solo verses for use on the single. It took 58 takes for the song to be completed.


Because of the worldwide broadcast, the song was given an international feel, opening with the French anthem "La Marseillaise", and including excerpts of other pieces during the long fade-out, including "2-part Invention #8 in F" by Johann Sebastian Bach (transposed to G and played on 2 piccolo trumpets), "Greensleeves" (played by the strings), Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" (played on a saxophone), one of the Beatles' seminal hits (particularly in Great Britain and the United States), "She Loves You" (Although it is still unknown whether Lennon or McCartney ad libbed this), and Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" lilting off at the end. Many sources, including Beatles' producer George Martin, have misremembered or misidentified the Bach quote as being from the "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2". Lennon can also be heard scatting what sounds like the title of "Yesterday", though others maintain he is saying "Yes, you can."

The structure of the song is complex. The main body (the verse) is in a 7/4 time signature with two measures of 7/4, one of 8/4, then back to 7/4 with the intro background vocals repeatedly singing "Love, love, love", over the top of which enter Lennon's lyrics:
“There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy”

By contrast, the chorus is simple: "All you need is love", in 4/4 time repeated against the horn response but, each chorus has only seven measures as opposed to the usual eight, and the seventh is 6/4, then back to the verse in 7/4.

Lennon had previously experimented with mixed time signatures. The song "We Can Work It Out" from 1965 has a 16 measure bridge composed by Lennon in which he juxtaposes 4 measures each of 4/4 and 3/4.

"All You Need Is Love" remains one of only two songs (along with Pink Floyd's "Money" from 1973) written in 7/4 time to reach the top 20 in the United States.

The track was remixed by George Martin and his son, Giles Martin, for the Beatles' soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil show Love.

In the film Yellow Submarine (1968), the second verse as well as the instrumental are deleted. Also, the last choruses are switched, the "all together now", and "everybody" coming first before the last group of choruses.


* John Lennon: lead and background vocals, harpsichord and banjo.
* Paul McCartney: bass, double bass and background vocals.
* George Harrison: lead guitar, violin and background vocals.
* Ringo Starr: drums and percussion.
* George Martin: piano, orchestration and production.
* Session musicians played strings, brass, woodwind and accordion as conducted by Mike Vickers.
* Friends and studio people made hand claps and sang background vocals.

Cover versions

Group or artist’s name Release date Album title Additional information
Ferrante & Teicher 1993-01-29 The Greatest Love Songs of All
Lynden David Hall 2003-11-11 Love Actually
John Bayless 1994-02-15 Bach Meets the Beatles
Echo & the Bunnymen 1988 New Live and Rare This version is also included on Crystal Days 1979-1999
Tom Jones 1993-01 Single
Eddie Chacon 1987 12" single Columbia 4406930
Anything Box 1991-05 Worth
The 5th Dimension 1971-10 The 5th Dimension/Live!
The Undead 1998-07 Till Death

Live cover performances

* Elvis Costello sang it with the aid of just one guitar at the Wembley leg of Live Aid. The British crowd (who sang along with practically every artist that day) sang the accompanying horn parts.
* Echo & the Bunnymen's live cover can be found as a bonus track on the 2003 re-release of their 1985 album Ocean Rain.
* Noel Gallagher, chief songwriter and guitarist of the britpop band Oasis, has performed the song live.
* German pianist and orchestra-leader Paul Kuhn recorded this song on a 1977 LP, The Big Band Beatles by Paul Kuhn & The SFB Big Band (Electrola 1C 066-32152).
* Dave Matthews has incorporated lyrics to "All You Need Is Love" and "Can't Buy Me Love" in the outro to live performances of "Christmas Song"
* U2 has done snippets of this song in many of their original songs in their live performances. Also, during the Elevation Tour in 2001, "All You Need Is Love" served as the introductory song being played over the loudspeakers of the concert venue before the members of U2 enter the stage and begin the performance.
* Cheap Trick Performed it with Billy Corgan at The Hollywood Ball for the 41st anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band's release.


* Einst├╝rzende Neubauten's song "Headcleaner" (Tabula Rasa) contains the lyrics for "All You Need Is Love", except they are in a skewed tense.

Where the original goes:
“ There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy. All you need is Love. ”

In Neubauten's version the line goes:
“ Cause nothing has been done that can't be done
Nothing has been sang that can't be sung
And nothing has been set, so forget how to play the game
It's easy. All you need is Lust ”

The line 'All you need is love' is also replaced with 'All you need is headcleaner'.

* In the film All You Need Is Cash, the Rutles parodied "All You Need Is Love" as "Love Life". The "Battle Hymn of the Republic" replaces "La Marseillaise" at the beginning, and "Love is the meaning of life. Life is the meaning of love" is the refrain at the end while their song "Hold My Hand" replaces "She Loves You" as the self-parody.
* Bob Rivers did a parody called "All You Need Is Elves".
* Fans of Liverpool Football Club can be heard singing the words "All you need is Rush" at matches, a reference to former striker Ian Rush.
* Beatallica, a "bash-up" band of the Beatles and Metallica, incorporated elements of the song into their 2008 single All You Need Is Blood which was recorded in 13 different languages by the band. A 14th (Japanese) version was released in Japan on October 8, 2008.
* In the Pinky and the Brain episode "All You Need is Narf", a brief parody featuring a band called The Feebles (an obvious spoof of the Beatles) is sung called "All You Eat is Lunch". The title is also a takeoff of the song. Many other Beatles parodies are featured in the episode as well, including parodies of "I Am the Walrus", John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", Yoko Ono, and the relationship between Lennon and Ono.

Appearances & references in other media

* Larry Norman referred to the song in "Readers Digest" [from the album Only Visiting This Planet (1972)] where he sang, "The Beatles sang 'All You Need Is Love' and then they broke up."
* The song was used to herald the entrance of Queen Elizabeth II into the Millennium Dome during the United Kingdom's millennial celebrations on 31 December 1999, having been voted the nation's favorite song. For that reason it was sung by choirs across the country during the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II celebrations on 2 June 2002, beginning in Slough and being picked up in many other cities. The first notes of the song were drawn from the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen", instead of the usual "La Marseillaise".
* The song, in a more edited form, was one of the songs from Yellow Submarine, during which John spoke: "Go Glove....Lovely Glove!"
* Lennon suggested the song as a good title for Tony Palmer's 15-hour documentary, All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music; the series was broadcast worldwide between 1976–1980 and released on DVD in 2008.
* The song was used in the series finale of the science fiction television series The Prisoner.
* A part of the song is used in the movie Moulin Rouge!.
* In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Barone recites the song's chorus when trying to unite his and Amy's family.
* In the film Independence Day (1996), Judd Hirsch's character quotes "All You Need Is Love" and then goes on to reference the tragedy of Lennon's death.
* The Royal Logistic Corps band played an instrumental version of it at the beginning of International Non-Violence Day in Birmingham, UK.
* It is used as the final song in the musical film Across the Universe (based on the songs of The Beatles). Within the narrative, Jude sings it on top of the building of Sadie's record company, Strawberry Jamz, in the hope that Lucy will hear him.
* In That '70s Show, Red, after catching his son, Eric, and his friends smoking marijuana, blames on The Beatles for their usage, which he states, "Who told you how to do this? Was it those damn Beatles? 'All you need is love'. All you need is a job and a haircut."

B-side: "Baby You're a Rich Man"
Released: 7 July 1967
Format: 7"
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 25 June 1967
Genre: Pop/Rock
Length: 3:47
Label: Parlophone R5620 (UK), Capitol 5964 (US)
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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