All My Loving

With The Beatles album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 30 July 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 November 1963 (UK), 20 January 1964 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
With The Beatles
Live At The BBC
Anthology 1

Generally considered to be his first major work, Paul McCartney's songwriting highlight on The Beatles' second album was written during the band's tour with Roy Orbison, which began on 18 May 1963.

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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 a Playboy journalist asked him about it 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 Paul McCartney began to emerge from the dominance of John Lennon, asserting himself as a talent equally worthy of attention.

All My Loving received much radio airplay despite never being released as a single.

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 version was 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.

47 responses on “All My Loving

  1. Michael

    I believe this is one of the first recordings where the vocals are overdubbed. It’s pretty obvious to me that paul is singing harmony with himself in the final verse.

        1. Steve

          hahaah thats a funny reply…but its true, Paul did overdub his own voice , fact is pauls voice was the highest and no one could sing the higher part so he sang both harmonies…when played live, Paul sings the higher harmony and Harrison sings the lower melody.

          1. Patrick

            .. and “NO” Steve. Just had this discussion with a friend. It is GEORGE on the high harmony when they played live. Watch Ed Sullivan clip in Miami. It’s counterintuitive for a Beatle fan that George would sing the higher part but it’s true.

    1. Joe Post author

      I’m pretty sure Paul double-tracked his vocals throughout the song, sang harmonies with himself in the final verse, and was joined by John and George (“Oooh”) in the final chorus.

  2. AlfinaHawaii

    Yeah, if you listen to the harmony and not looking at video clips of the Live performance, you can really hear Paul’s voice texture on both harmonies.

    I have noticed that in the Live version, George would be singing the normal harmony while Paul takes on the high harmony, for the obvious reason. And I would even swear that I have heard different voice ‘textures’ in the two harmonies in the Live version when George sings it with Paul.

    I know this is echoing what is already said above, but for what it worth….

  3. apple_jam

    Love Paul’s melodic, descending bass line- a sign of great things to come. What’s most amazing to me is the fact that this 21 year old, self-taught `kid’ could nail this bass line — while singing perfect lead vocals. And he’d been playing bass less than 3 years! Prodigy.

    1. John D'Onofrio

      Yes, absolutely. I just saw this website tonight and love it. You’re absolutely right and make the most significant point of all about this song. The fact that Paul sang the lyrics and played that sensational bass line at the same time. What a talent. I played bass for years for a few bands and believe, me that’s not an easy song to play both parts in. McCartney (yes, 21, another great point)doing both, on national TV, 73 million people, smiling the whole time and most of the time never glancing at his fretboard,wow, utterly amazing.. Just unbelieveable.

      1. robert

        Just saw Sir Paul play and sing this at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert on TV. I leaned over to my wife and said, “This guy is 70 years old and he still can play that moving walking bass line while singing that melody! Guys in their 30’s can’t do that. He remains amazing.”

    2. Lex Lewis

      I agree, Paul was an excellent, steady bassist, and this song is a good example. Ironically, in the last verse, he hits a clinker when he plays the fingering on the wrong string! Rare for Paul indeed. This merely shows that even geniuses aren’t perfect!

  4. Jenson Tagg

    To settle the argument…

    On the recording: Its Paul singing the higer harmony with himself as an overdub.

    Live: In the last verse, George sings the normal melody and Paul takes the higher harmony – The most simple way to tell is to just watch the Hollywood Bowl performance.

    Anyone who says other wise is an idiot or deaf.
    Now shut up!

  5. Dan D'Addio

    I have read several sources that it was George on the melody and Paul with harmony when performed live. On the recording, the opposite was the case. I can see where people would think Paul double-tracked on the recording. They first used this recording technique on this album. I would suspect that they had George sing the melody when live due to his vocal range and the fact that John and Paul did not have confidence in his vocal abilities.

    1. Jay

      Another proof that George sings harmony with Paul’s song during live performance is the song Things We Said Today in Live at the Hollywood Bowl. At every refrain, George sings the lower voice while Paul is in the higher harmony.

  6. Lennon fan

    One of my personal faves… excellent guitar work! John’s wonderful strong triplets, Paul’s counterpoint bass, and George’s country-tinged solo… which almost sounds like finger-picking? It reminds me of Chet Atkins.

    One of the things I’ve noticed about the BBC radio recordings where Paul and George sing together is how their voices blend together to sound sweet and McCartney-esque… “Please Don’t Ever Change” (aka “As Sweet As You Are”) is a good example.

    Furthermore, when George sings harmony with John, it makes it sound more gritty and Lennon-esque, for example “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me’.

    I’ve always wondered exactly who is singing “Words of Love”— I’ve long suspected it was George and John!

  7. DarrenS

    In addition to all of the wonderful things about this song cited previously (Paul’s singing and bass playing, John’s triplets and George’s lead), I love the fact that the live versions, as evidenced by the Ed Sulivan recording and the BBC recording, are different than the album cut. On the album, when Paul is doubling up on the last verse, he doesn’t harmonize. He just sings the melody both times, with the additional melody being higher. In the live versions, he actually sings a high harmony, which, in my mind, makes the song better, giving the repeated final verse a different, more urgent, feel. Truly an excellent song.

  8. Doodlebug

    That guitar work is incredible. I tried learning this song because 1) it’s awesome, and 2) I love it to pieces, but I had to give it up. I just couldn’t do the triplets fast enough.
    And yes, it’s Paul double tracking on the recording. When they did it live George sang the melody and Paul the higher harmony. Of course.

  9. theBeatleGoesOn

    When I was a teenager, I would check out a Netherlands released album called “The Beatles Greatest”. This version of “All My Loving” had 5 hi-hat strikes as a count-off intro before Paul began singing. I’ve never heard it again on any other release. Anyone else?

  10. Graham Paterson

    A beautiful ballad by Paul McCartney. A highlight of “With the Beatles”. McCartney went on to write many more great songs/ ballads and this stands up in the top echelon.

      1. Graham Paterson

        Actually Richard it is one of thee ballads on the Album “The Beatles Ballads” so we cant really doubt that Paul McCartney regards it as a ballad. can we?

        1. Richard Boene

          Perhaps if he actually had any role in the selection of the tracks. And there is no proof that I know of that he did. That particular compilation was not released where I live anyway.

          Even if he did view the song as such I would still find my self questioning his reasoning on account not only of the tempo but also the driving instrumentation that complements it.

  11. Jonas Svensson, Sweden

    1. It was The Beatles trying to do a Chet Atkins style of country-ish song.
    2. I love the version with the hi-hat intro. At least one of the mentioned releases also had a lot of echo, so the first two words could be heard (in headphones at least) like three times before the real track starts.
    3. The hi-hat clicks five times. On stage, when Paul counted in the song, he could be heard counting for two bars, “One, two, three, four, five!”, leaving the 6th beat silent and `Close your´ was the 7th and 8th beats. In later years, Paul counts in slower, only one, two, three. Fascinating facts to discuss, isn´t it?

  12. John

    Kudos to Peter for catching that phrase in Kathy’s Waltz, truly one of the most obscure references to what Paul might call a “nick”, assuming he had been exposed to it, subconsciously or otherwise. It’s spot on.

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