Generally considered to be Paul McCartney’s first major work, ‘All My Loving’ appeared on the band’s second album With The Beatles.

The song was written during The Beatles’ tour with Roy Orbison, which began on 18 May 1963.

It was the first song I’d ever written the words first. I never wrote words first, it was always some kind of accompaniment, I’ve hardly ever done it since either. We were on a tour bus going to a gig and so I started with the words. I had in mind a little country and western song. We played the Moss Empire circuit a lot, and there were always these nice big empty backstage areas. The places have all become bingo halls now. We arrived at the gig and I remember being in one of these big backstage areas and there was a piano there so I’d got my instrument. I didn’t have a guitar, it was probably with our road manager, and I remember working the tune out to it on the piano. It was a good show song, it worked well live.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Although he was often disparaging towards McCartney’s songs after The Beatles split up, John Lennon was fulsome in his praise for ‘All My Loving’ when asked about it by a Playboy journalist in 1980.

‘All My Loving’ is Paul, I regret to say. Ha-ha-ha. Because it’s a damn good piece of work. [Singing] ‘All my loving…’ But I play a pretty mean guitar in back.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The song quickly entered The Beatles’ live set, remaining a fixture throughout 1963 and much of 1964. It also marked the point where McCartney began to emerge from the dominance of Lennon, asserting himself as a talent equally worthy of attention.

‘All My Loving’ received much radio airplay despite it never being released as a single in the UK or US. It was, however, issued as singles in Argentina, Sweden, Norway, and Japan, and was the lead song on EPs released in Australia, France, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

You know, that was on the album and the first person I heard single it out was the disc jockey David Jacobs, who was pretty hip. Still is actually – he knows pop music. He was always quite an expert, for one of the older generation. I remember him singling it out on his radio show and I think from that moment it did become a big favourite for people. And I heard it differently. Till then I’d heard it as an album track. But when he played it on his radioshow, and it went over to however many million people on network BBC, it was like ‘Woh! That is a good one’. I always liked it.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles recorded ‘All My Loving’ on four occasions for BBC radio. The first was on 17 December 1963, for Saturday Club, which was broadcast on 21 December.

The second BBC recording was made on 18 December 1963, for the first From Us To You show, which was broadcast on 26 December.

The third took place on 7 January 1964 for an episode of Saturday Club, first broadcast on 15 February. The final version, which was included on the Live At The BBC album, was for From Us To You; it was recorded on 28 February and first heard by listeners on 30 March.

More famously, ‘All My Loving’ was the first song performed by The Beatles on their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York on 9 February 1964. This hugely significant recording was included on the Anthology 1 collection.

A couple of weeks after the release of Meet The Beatles!, we played the Ed Sullivan Show. Ed Sullivan was a real gentleman to us, and he always wore these finely tailored suits. There were only three major channels in the US at the time, and his show defined what people talked about. You hadn’t made it in America until you’d been on it…

The song had always done well live, so after he’d introduced us as ‘these youngsters from Liverpool’, it became the first song that America saw The Beatles play live on TV. A month or so afterwards we had the top five songs in the Billboard charts.

So to illustrate how quickly things were moving for us in those days, ‘All My Loving’ helped us go from the Moss Empires circuit to conquering America in a little over six months. And a few months later I turned twenty-two.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded ‘All My Loving’ on 30 July 1963, a busy session which also saw them complete ‘Please Mister Postman’, ‘It Won’t Be Long’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, ‘Till There Was You’, and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

The thing that strikes me about the ‘All My Loving’ recording is John’s guitar part; he’s playing the chords as triplets. That was a last-minute idea, and it transforms the whole thing, giving it momentum. The song is obviously about someone leaving to go on a trip, and that driving rhythm of John’s echoes the feeling of travel and motion. It sounds like a car’s wheels on the motorway, which, if you can believe it, had only really become a thing in the UK at the end of the fifties. But, it was often like that when we were recording. One of us would come up with that little magic thing. It allowed the song to become what it needed to be.

‘All My Loving’ was the final song recorded on 30 July 1963. The Beatles recorded 13 takes, numbered 1-14; there was no take five.

Take 11 was the best attempt. Onto this the group added three overdub takes, numbered 12-14.

Previous song: ‘All I’ve Got To Do’
Next song: ‘Don’t Bother Me’
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