All You Need Is Love

Our World

I'm ready to sing for the world, George, if you can just give me the backing...
John Lennon
Our World
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25 June was the day of the Our World broadcast. Most of the day was spent rehearsing with the BBC camera crew. As it was such an important day, George Martin ensured that The Beatles played along to their pre-recorded backing track (take 10, with additional overdubs); the vocals, bass, guitar solo, drums and orchestra were the only live elements.

We went around to EMI for the show. We'd done a lot of pre-recording, so we sang live to the backing track. We'd worked on it all with George Martin's help, and it was a good day. We went in there early in the morning to rehearse with the cameras, and there was a bit orchestra - for all that stuff with Greensleeves playing on the way out of the song. The band was asked to invite people, so we had people like Mick and Eric, and all our friends and wifelets.
Paul McCartney

It was unusual for The Beatles to allow cameras into the studio while they were working, although not unprecedented. Notably, the group had planned a televised special around the making of Sgt Pepper; although the programme never came to fruition, the orchestral overdubs for A Day In The Life had been filmed on 10 February.

For Our World, it was decided that The Beatles, other than Ringo Starr, would perform on high stools in the studio, surrounded by friends sitting cross-legged on the floor. Friends and family in attendance included Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richard, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, Pattie Harrison, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Graham Nash and Hunter Davies.

I remember the recording, because we decided to get some people in who looked like the 'love generation'. If you look closely at the floor, I know that Mick Jagger is there. But there's also an Eric Clapton, I believe, in full psychedelic regalia and permed hair, sitting right there. It was good: the orchestra was there and it was played live. We rehearsed for a while, and then it was: 'You're on at twelve o'clock, lads.' The man upstairs pointed his finger and that was that. We did it - one take.
George Harrison

Although the event had been rehearsed for much of the day prior to the 9.36pm (local time) live broadcast, nerves were running high on the day.

I was on camera for the broadcast. It was a bit of a panic because it was done in the big number one studio at EMI. The control room was then just at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn't very large, and there was Geoff Emerick, the tape operator and myself in there. We had prepared a basic track of the recording for the television show, but we were going to do a lot live. There was a live orchestra, the singing was live, the audience certainly was, and we knew it was going to be a live television show. There was also a camera in the control room.

With about thirty seconds to go, there was a phone call. It was the producer of the show, saying: 'I'm afraid I've lost all contact with the studio - you're going to have to relay the instructions to them, because we're going on air any moment now.' I thought, 'My God, if you're going to make a fool of yourself, you might as well do it properly in front of 350 million people. At that point I just laughed.

George Martin

The broadcast lasted for just six minutes and 11 seconds, but it was a frantic affair for those in the studio - not helped by having to go on air earlier than expected.

We actually went on air about 40 seconds early. George and I were having a welcome shot of Scotch whisky when we got the word over the intercom. There was a big panic to hide the bottle and the glasses. We were shoving them under the mixing console!
Geoff Emerick
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The members of the orchestra wore formal evening dress, and the invited audience all wore the colourful clothes that were de rigeur in 1967. All of The Beatles' guests sang in the song's lengthy fade-out, and some even danced a conga around the studio.

George Martin's orchestral arrangement, for which he was paid £15, contained elements from Bach's Brandenburg concerto, Greensleeves, and Glenn Miller's arrangement of In The Mood, in addition to the distinctive introduction of La Marseillaise. Lennon also ad-libbed parts of She Loves You.

In arranging it, we shoved La Marseillaise on the front, and a whole string of stuff on the end. I fell into deep water over that. I'm afraid that amongst all the little bits and pieces I used in the play-out, which the boys didn't know about, was a bit of In The Mood. Everyone thought In The Mood was in the public domain, and it is - but the introduction isn't. The introduction is an arrangement, and it was the introduction I took. That was a published work. EMI came to me and said: 'You put this in the arrangement, so now you've got to indemnify us against any action that might be taken.' I said, 'You must be joking. I got fifteen pounds for that arrangement, that's all.' They saw the joke. I think they paid a fee to Keith Prowse, or whoever the publisher was, and I wrote the arrangements out. Greensleeves was also there at half tempo, to weave in with a bit of Bach and the bit of In The Mood.
George Martin

After the guests had left the studio, Starr overdubbed a snare drum roll onto the introduction, and Lennon re-recorded some vocals in the verses. The song was remixed the following day in preparation for the single release.

Chart success

Remarkably, The Beatles only decided to release All You Need Is Love as a single on 24 June, the day before the Our World broadcast. It was issued in the UK on 7 July 1967, backed with Baby, You're A Rich Man. Notably, it was the first time George Martin received a producer credit on a Beatles single.

The single inevitably became a worldwide smash hit. Five days after its UK release, All You Need Is Love was at number one in the single chart, where it remained for four weeks.

In the US it was issued on 17 July; on 29 July it entered the top 40, spent a week at number one, and stayed in the charts for nine weeks. It also appeared on the LP version of Magical Mystery Tour, released in the US on 27 November.

53 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.

  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

  18. beatledragon

    Not much more to be said, but I will add a couple of observations after watching the wonderful video of this song:

    1) There’s a shot of Mick Jagger joylessly singing and clapping along. I may be imagining this but I get the feeling he is jealous of all the attention the Beatles are getting at this new career peak.

    2) George’s solo has a distinctly slide-y feel. No doubt, its just the way he’s bending the notes, but it really does sound like his later slide work to me.

  19. Graham Paterson

    The perfect anthem for 1967, but this song is timeless as well. John Lennon custom made this for the TV broadcast. From the French national anthem to the great fade out this is a classic.

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