Generally considered to be Paul McCartney’s first major work, ‘All My Loving’ was written during The Beatles’ tour with Roy Orbison, which began on 18 May 1963. The song appeared on the band’s second album With The Beatles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
‘All My Loving’ was the final song recorded that day. 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.