Released: 17 January 1969 (UK), 13 January 1969 (US)
George Harrison: vocals, Hammond organ
John Lennon: harmony vocals, lead guitar
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine
David Mason and three others: trumpets
Paul Harvey: bass clarinet
Written while under the influence of LSD, It’s All Too Much was the second song by George Harrison to feature on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.
It’s All Too Much was written in a childlike manner from realizations that appeared during and after some LSD experiences and which were later confirmed in meditation.
Based on a droning G chord, the song transposed the continuing influence of Indian music onto a psychedelic setting. The lyrics combined the cosmic philosophy favoured by Harrison with some nursery rhyme-style whimsy.
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around here
All the world’s a birthday cake,
So take a piece but not too much
Sail me on a silver sun, for I know that I’m free
Show me that I’m everywhere, and get me home for tea
It’s All Too Much contained a couplet from The Merseys’ 1966 hit single Sorrow: “With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue”. The trumpeters, meanwhile, performed a motif from Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March, also known as Trumpet Voluntary.
I just wanted to write a rock ‘n’ roll song about the whole psychedelic thing of the time. Because you’d trip out, you see, on all this stuff, and then whoops! you’d just be back having your evening cup of tea! ‘Your long blond hair and your eyes of blue’ – that was all just this big ending we had, going out. And as it was in those days, we had the horn players just play a bit of trumpet voluntarily, and so that’s how that Prince of Denmark bit was played. And Paul and John just came up with and sang that lyric of ‘your eyes of blue’.
The version used on the film soundtrack was 6’28″ long. An eight-minute mix, meanwhile, has appeared on Beatles bootlegs, and contains a verse which also featured in the Yellow Submarine film.
Nice to have the time
To take this opportunity
Time for me to look at you
And you to look at me.
In the studio
Recording began with the working title Too Much, at De Lane Lea Studios in London. On 25 May 1967 The Beatles recorded a number of rehearsal run-throughs before taping four takes of the rhythm track – Hammond organ, lead guitar, bass and drums.
On 31 May they returned to De Lane Lea, adding percussion, lead and backing vocals, and handclaps.
John and Paul’s backing, meanwhile, started to waver a little, the chanted ‘too much’ eventually becoming ‘tuba’ and then ‘Cuba’. It was that sort of a song.
It’s All Too Much was completed on 2 June, with the addition of four trumpets and a bass clarinet. The session took place between 8.30pm and 2am. One of the trumpet players was David Mason, who also performed on Penny Lane, A Day In The Life, Magical Mystery Tour and All You Need Is Love.