All You Need Is Love

All You Need Is Love single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 14, 19, 23-25 June 1967
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Eddie Kramer, Geoff Emerick

Released: 7 July 1967 (UK), 17 July 1967 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, harpsichord, banjo
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass, double bass
George Harrison: vocals, guitar, violin
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano
Sidney Sax, Patrick Halling, Eric Bowie, John Ronayne: violin
Lionel Ross, Jack Holmes: cello
Rex Morris, Don Honeywill: tenor saxophone
Stanley Woods, David Mason: trumpet
Evan Watkins, Harry Spain: trombone
Jack Emblow: accordion
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Pattie Harrison, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, Keith Moon, Hunter Davies, Gary Leeds and more: chorus
Mike Vickers: conductor

Available on:
Magical Mystery Tour
1
Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine Songtrack
Love

All You Need Is Love was written by John Lennon especially for Our World, the world’s first televised satellite link-up between 25 countries worldwide. Its message perfectly encapsulated the optimistic mood of the Summer of Love, with a simplicity perfectly judged for their global audience.

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We were big enough to command an audience of that size, and it was for love. It was for love and bloody peace. It was a fabulous time. I even get excited now when I realise that’s what it was for: peace and love, people putting flowers in guns.
Ringo Starr
Anthology

The BBC had suggested the idea of using new satellite relays to connect the national television networks of countries across the world, to make a live link-up on a scale previously unknown. The Beatles were the natural choice to represent Britain, and they decided to compose a new song especially for the broadcast.

I don’t know if they had prepared any ideas but they left it very late to write the song. John said, ‘Oh God, is it that close? I suppose we’d better write something.’
Geoff Emerick
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Our World took place on 25 June 1967; The Beatles began recording the backing track just 11 days before the transmission date. Coming just two weeks after the release of Sgt Pepper, The Beatles were clearly full of confidence, and took a the prospect of a potential audience of 400 million people in their stride.

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 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, Barry Miles

A remix of All You Need Is Love was the closing track on the Love album. The song’s ending featured vocals from Baby You’re A Rich Man, Rain and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as the guitar riff from Ticket To Ride. The song segues into a brief orchestral snippet from Good Night, accompanied by a snippet of dialogue from The Beatles’ 1965 Christmas fan club recording.

The time got nearer and nearer and they still hadn’t written anything. Then, about three weeks before the programme, they sat down to write. The record was completed in 10 days.

This is an inspired song, because they wrote it for a worldwide programme and they really wanted to give the world a message. It could hardly have been a better message. It is a wonderful, beautiful, spine-chilling record.

Brian Epstein
Anthology

In the studio

The Beatles began recording All You Need Is Love on 14 June 1967, at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, London. The group taped some vocals and played unconventional instruments: Lennon on harpsichord, McCartney on double bass, and Harrison playing a violin. Ringo Starr was the only member to stick to his usual instrument.

We just put a track down. Because I knew the chords I played it on whatever it was, harpsichord. George played a violin because we felt like doing it like that and Paul played a double bass. And they can’t play them, so we got some nice little noises coming out. It sounded like an orchestra, but it’s just them two playing the violin and that. So then we thought, ‘Ah, well, we’ll have some more orchestra around this little freaky orchestra that we’ve got.’ But there was no perception of how it sounded at the end until they did it that day, until the rehearsal. It still sounded a bit strange then.
John Lennon, 1980
Anthology

Five days later, back at Abbey Road, they overdubbed more drums, plus lead and backing vocals, piano played by George Martin and banjo by Lennon.

On 23 and 24 June they made last minute rehearsals and additional recording, including an orchestral overdub. There was also a press call on the morning of 24 June, which saw more than 100 journalists and photographers enter Abbey Road.

49 responses on “All You Need Is Love

  1. richard calvert

    The finest of songs to a world so in need of a totally committed, unconditional and heart felt sincere statement of ‘LOVE’. When I first heard this song I was so impressed by the ( professional ease), as it we’re, of The Beatles! Absolutely one of the greatest songs of ‘ love on love’ ever! Going far beyond the same type of song; ‘The Word’, Johns’ ability to literally syncopate poetry and preaching in a manner so effortlessly fluid, it surprises us it’s how truly hard this is to do sucessfully without being demeaning or demanding of our sensibilities. The Beatles truely came full circle ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah; reinventing even the pop beginnings of their own careers. The B-side ‘Baby Your A Rich Man’ even overflows with so much swagger and confidence we are literally cheering our ‘Pop-Heroes’ on! The sound produced by these songs is extremely inspiring, driving us all to believe we too can achieve our hearts desires when we believe and trust in the power of’ LOVE!’

  2. Matt

    There’s actually a huge amount of debate over who ad-libs She Loves You during the broadcast, as most if not all of the Beatles are singing at that point; the real question is whose voice ended up on the recording.

  3. Garrett Hawk

    On the visual broadcast, it’s difficult to decipher who is singing what. But audio? Every hardcore Beatle fan knows the distinctive timbres of the voices of John and Paul; it’s Paul singing the “She Loves You” bit.

    Not only does it sound exactly like Paul, but John couldn’t sing that high. Indeed, John actually has said in interviews that there are songs HE wrote, where he had Paul sing, simply because he couldn’t hit the notes (the middle 8 of “A Hard Day’s Night, the lead of “Day Tripper,” the high melody of “If I Fell.”) And Paul has been quoted (indeed, earlier in this very article) that his contribution to the song was the She Loves You bit. FWIW, I think it’s a rare Paul misstep, and actually kind of detracts from the message of the song.

    1. NIck

      Umm Minus John they’re lip-syncing right? i don’t understand how people don’t see that. Pretty clear when paul “sings” All together now. And his bass track is NOT the same as on ideo. hence the need for Ringo’s headphones… there are definatley tracks being played that they aren’t playing live. hence the need for Ringo’s headphones.. ignore my horrible grammar please. 1 hour of sleep :(

    2. Joseph Brush

      I see.
      Comments and debate are one thing, but you insinuate that anyone who believes the opposite of your opinion here is not only incorrect, but also, in your humble opinion, that person is not a “hardcore Beatle fan”.
      What tommyrot!

    3. Jake Piccioni

      I have always thought it was Paul, as when it first starts it sounds like him. However, as it goes on, it begins to sound more like John. To me it literally sounds like the voice morphed Paul to John, which obviously didn’t happen, but it is confusing. If I had to choose, I’d say John. Listen to the first “Yeah” the second time he says “She loves you YEAH yeah yeah”..It has a roughness to it much like John’s voice.

  4. TheOneBeatle (from Youtube)

    The ad-libs are from John, because that tune that is reached in the record ”saying Yesterday and She Loves You Yeah yeah, she loves you yeah yeah yeah”.
    And in the complete full 7 minute version John is rehearshing saying fast ”She loves you yeah yeah, she loves you yeah yeah”.

  5. JP

    Here in Canada,’All You Need is Love’ was the theme song for a show in the seventies. It was on the weekends (I can’t remember exactly when). The show featured kids that were available for adoption. Does anyone know the name of that show? It was on either ‘Global TV’, CBC or TVO. I’ve been racking my brains for a long time trying to figure this out.

    1. Robyn

      I remember that show being here in Australia as well and cannot for the life of me remember the name of it. I do remember the island and a bouncing ball on the ocean. It was rather a strange show but we were addicted to it.
      I seem to remember some plot about mind games or something. it is all a bit vague now.

      1. David G

        The show with the giant ball was “The Prisoner,” a celebrated series from the 60s; AYNIL featured in the final episode. As for Canadian adoption programs, that’s beyond my ken.

  6. robert

    I think it’s Paul singing the “she loves you” part and here’s why. In the second or third “she loves you” there’s a vocal trill that sounds like a technique that only Paul does. It’s on the “loves you” part – takes you and makes it two sylabbles long.

    Also, I wonder if this is one of those moments John was referring to when he said that while Paul’s songs kept to a tight script – on his songs a whole air of experimentation seemed to open up and that John believed Paul would sabotage John’s songs in this way.

    Could be. Or not.

    1. Joe Post author

      I think this has been debated widely elsewhere on the web, so I’m slightly wary of having another discussion about it here (though the forum is always open). Have you seen this page? It suggests that it’s both John and Paul.

  7. KKS

    Martin’s arrangement on this has been a profound influence on my entire approach to songwriting and production.

    He is a master of this kind of pastiche, and I wish it was used more in popular music today.

  8. Johan

    Have never seen this written anywhere but I think it’s very interesting that they used La Marseillaise at the beginning. Given each country had a segment on the broadcast that was supposed to showcase their own country (e.g. Australia and trams in Melbourne I think), to start with the definitive French song I think must have been their sense of humor at work. You can imagine the broadcast saying, “And now from the United Kingdom…” and the first thing being the opening bars to the French national anthem.

    1. Liz

      THANK YOU for mentioning “La Marseillaise!” this song was the first time I had ever heard it, and ever since I found out what it was, I’ve wondered why they used it in this song. The explanation of John’s sense of humor makes good sense to mw.

    2. TomMo

      That’s a good point, Johan, and certainly fits with John’s humor, and the general anti-French attitude by many Brits. But all the bits of other songs included on the track relate to the song’s general theme of “Love”: “Greensleeves”, “In The Mood”, “She Loves You”, etc. As for “La Marseillaise”, is not France supposed to be the world capital of romance? Or is this an expression of love from the Beatles (Britain) towards France…for the sake of peace? I can’t say I’ve ever read the definitive explanation.

  9. paulsbass

    First let me express how I love the arrangement. Everything, starting with John’s harpsichord to the orchestra and the song snippets and the wonderful backing vocals is just mindblowingly beautiful and rich.

    I never thought they really took the live recording for the single.
    But in fact you can actually hear Lennon’s chewing throughout the song, most prominently at around 0.43!

    And my thoughts on ANOTHER “Paul or John” debate (wich I LOVE!):
    It’s clearly not John alone. Right before it there’s “Oh yeah” which is clearly Paul. The “She loves you part” sounds exactly like the “Oh yeah”, so it’s Paul doing it.
    Seeing both of them singing it together there may very well be an addition of John, especially in the second “She loves you”.

  10. Alan Duncan

    Watch the original broadcast and note the 2:04-2:06 mark and you can see John practicing singing “she loves you.” Again at about the 6:05 you can clearly see him singing it and Paul is smiling off mic.

    1. Ricardo

      I totally agree with you. to me it is obvius it was john and not paul, and whoever thinks the first bit of ‘she loves you’ sounds the same as the ‘oh yeh’ bit sang by paul does not have a good ear. No offense to anyone but there’s no doubt it’s john. You can even clearly see it on the video, plus when he sings the she loves you bit you cannot hear his voice at the back singing ‘love is all you need’ which you can when he’s not doing the ad libs. No doubt to me it’s john.
      Cheers

  11. Robert Berentzen

    >>>>> 7/8 ! <<<<<

    Didn't ANYbody notice the VERY unusual and remarkable metrics in this song???

    Immediately after the horn-intro at 2:40 you can only count 4/4 + 3/4 = 7/8
    And later on in ALL 3 verses were John sings these 2 lines at 3:59
    "There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
    Nothing you can sing that can't be sung"
    The next line is the normal 8/8: ("Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game")
    JUST COUNT with them and be astonished!!

    In here Ringo can't play a pattern and is forced to beat on EVERY bar….

    Must be rehearsed intensely because NOBODY makes the easy -1 bar too long- mistake.

    THIS is all extremely RARE in music-history and another prove of their genius!

    —–

    I think my remarks are important enough to mention within the data of the song (at the studio or so) "build in 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4"

    (sorry for my poor english, I am dutch – please improve)

  12. Zanrak

    Hello Beatle Detailists!

    So here’s my question to you all: I KNOW I read somewhere (it could’ve been a sound interview but I feel like I read it…) that John said he began writing this lyric from a SARCASTIC point-of-view! Like “Oh yeah, ALL your problems will be solved with ‘love’…HA!”….. AND HE/I/YOU COULD SEE THAT! John was often sarcastic and he was quick to notice and talk (or sing) about various ironies in life. In that unknown/forgotten interview, he said that either after he wrote AYNIL, or perhaps during the process, he then looked at the lyric and realized that a more literal interpretation of the lofty concepts in AYNIL’s lyrics made amazing poetic sense, and, consequently, John had an about-face regarding the song’s meaning. As time went on, as I understand it, John came to view AYNIL as, in many respects, his SIGNATURE song, at least in terms of a message describing his deepest values and ideals (probably along with Give Peace A Chance). Ironic, no?!

    I think the story that John wrote AYNIL ironically, and then changed his mind, is absolutely one of the ways that the lyrics of John & the Beatles came together. They had some inspiration, quickly put something down and then sooner or later realized the lyric worked in other ways.

    However, has anyone else seen that interview?! I really don’t think I’m making this up or imagining it. Beatle sleuths: do your work!

    1. Billy Shears

      Listen very carefully to near the end of the song – just before the opening notes of Green Sleeves (or Love is Blue) starts up. John distinctly says something that sounds like “Yes, he’s dead”. I have heard the song for years but didn’t notice it until now. It is eerie that once that statement is made Green Sleeves or Love is Blue (a popular hit at the time) dominates the end of the song changing it from happy, silly and hopeful to sad and melancholy.

        1. Billy Shears

          Hmmm… Possible, but I have my doubts. Like John’s statement “cranberry sauce” at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever” this may be open to interpretation. I am intrigued by how clever they were with the PID “clues” in their music and graphics. Great web-site Joe – glad I found it.

  13. Richard Boene

    I don’t mean to be nit-picky but I couldn’t help but notice that during this article’s description of the band’s friends who were invited to the “Our World” session Keith Richards’s name is spelled Keith Richard. It’s really Keith Richards.

  14. Johan Cavalli

    I think John Lennon´s All You Need Is Love is the Beatles best song. The more you listen, the more you love it. It is seemingly simple. It starts with long anthemic so wonderful notes, it´s more like a hymn than pop music. Lennon could have been inspired by the divine service music he loved as a child. Then follows that for Lennon typical hammering on the same note in the refrain. Some people think it is repetitive, but the point is that this is a condition for fully appreciate the sudden following arise of two notes, the marvellous climax. Then the resolve. According to Albert Goldman, Lennon said that a good song must have a climax and a resolve. The ending is not good when everybody sings the refrain, the song loses a bit of it´s stringency.
    Everybody who works with that song says the more you listen the more you love it.

    George Martin had never quit the same understanding for Lennon´s music, than for McCartney´s. When Martin heard it the first time he leaned toward Paul and muttered: “Well, it´s certainly repetitive”, according to Bob Spitz´s book about the Beatles.

    1. cdesim

      This song has less to do with divine service music than it does with Gene Vincent. The chorus is just a re-write of “Ain’t She Sweet” from the Bluejean Bop album.

  15. Lukey Boy

    Like Yellow Submarine, the song sounds deceptively simple, yet is a stunningly complex composition. The orchestration, the harmonies, the time-changes… It’s so clever. It took me a few listens to appreciate that. John saying ‘I suppose we’d better write something,’ then coming up with this says it all, really.

  16. Chris Sager

    I always heard it as “Yes, you can” but now that you have brought up Yes, he’s dead” I know that is how I am going to hear it from now until the end of time. Great tune.

  17. Thewalruswaspaul

    I saw a rare recording of the song and saw john practicing the “she loves you” part. But when I listened to the song, it sounded like Paul… IDK guys it can be both of them xD

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