All You Need Is Love

All You Need Is Love single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 14, 19, 23-25 June 1967
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Eddie Kramer, Geoff Emerick

Released: 7 July 1967 (UK), 17 July 1967 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, harpsichord, banjo
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass, double bass
George Harrison: vocals, guitar, violin
Ringo Starr: drums
George Martin: piano
Sidney Sax, Patrick Halling, Eric Bowie, John Ronayne: violin
Lionel Ross, Jack Holmes: cello
Rex Morris, Don Honeywill: tenor saxophone
Stanley Woods, David Mason: trumpet
Evan Watkins, Harry Spain: trombone
Jack Emblow: accordion
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Pattie Harrison, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, Keith Moon, Hunter Davies, Gary Leeds and more: chorus
Mike Vickers: conductor

Available on:
Magical Mystery Tour
Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine Songtrack

All You Need Is Love was written by John Lennon especially for Our World, the world's first televised satellite link-up between 25 countries worldwide. Its message perfectly encapsulated the optimistic mood of the Summer of Love, with a simplicity perfectly judged for their global audience.

Download on iTunes

We were big enough to command an audience of that size, and it was for love. It was for love and bloody peace. It was a fabulous time. I even get excited now when I realise that's what it was for: peace and love, people putting flowers in guns.
Ringo Starr

The BBC had suggested the idea of using new satellite relays to connect the national television networks of countries across the world, to make a live link-up on a scale previously unknown. The Beatles were the natural choice to represent Britain, and they decided to compose a new song especially for the broadcast.

I don't know if they had prepared any ideas but they left it very late to write the song. John said, 'Oh God, is it that close? I suppose we'd better write something.'
Geoff Emerick
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Our World took place on 25 June 1967; The Beatles began recording the backing track just 11 days before the transmission date. Coming just two weeks after the release of Sgt Pepper, The Beatles were clearly full of confidence, and took a the prospect of a potential audience of 400 million people in their stride.

All You Need Is Love was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did the other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing She Loves You or Greensleeves or silly things at the end and we made those up on the spot.

The chorus, 'All you need is love', is simple, but the verse is quite complex; in fact I never really understood it, the message is rather complex. It was a good song that we had handy that had an anthemic chorus.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

A remix of All You Need Is Love was the closing track on the Love album. The song's ending featured vocals from Baby You're A Rich Man, Rain and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as the guitar riff from Ticket To Ride. The song segues into a brief orchestral snippet from Good Night, accompanied by a snippet of dialogue from The Beatles' 1965 Christmas fan club recording.

The time got nearer and nearer and they still hadn't written anything. Then, about three weeks before the programme, they sat down to write. The record was completed in 10 days.

This is an inspired song, because they wrote it for a worldwide programme and they really wanted to give the world a message. It could hardly have been a better message. It is a wonderful, beautiful, spine-chilling record.

Brian Epstein

In the studio

The Beatles began recording All You Need Is Love on 14 June 1967, at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, London. The group taped some vocals and played unconventional instruments: Lennon on harpsichord, McCartney on double bass, and Harrison playing a violin. Ringo Starr was the only member to stick to his usual instrument.

We just put a track down. Because I knew the chords I played it on whatever it was, harpsichord. George played a violin because we felt like doing it like that and Paul played a double bass. And they can't play them, so we got some nice little noises coming out. It sounded like an orchestra, but it's just them two playing the violin and that. So then we thought, 'Ah, well, we'll have some more orchestra around this little freaky orchestra that we've got.' But there was no perception of how it sounded at the end until they did it that day, until the rehearsal. It still sounded a bit strange then.
John Lennon, 1980

Five days later, back at Abbey Road, they overdubbed more drums, plus lead and backing vocals, piano played by George Martin and banjo by Lennon.

On 23 and 24 June they made last minute rehearsals and additional recording, including an orchestral overdub. There was also a press call on the morning of 24 June, which saw more than 100 journalists and photographers enter Abbey Road.

64 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 🙁

      1. Kevin Richards

        Most people have never seen the complete clip of the performance. Before the song starts, George Martin is shown in the control booth starting a playback tape machine. The Beatles were playing over and singing over a pre-recorded backing track. The only things that were done live were the orchestra, Paul’s Rickenbacker bass, Ringo adding a back beat and all the vocals.

    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”.

      1. Paolo

        I think the banjo is pretty clear and audible throughout the last verse (from 1:56 to 2:10) intertwining with both harpsichord and bass. Sounds like a Brian Wilson-y thing.

  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.

  20. BEV

    I knew Evan Watkins in the seventies when he was in Southampton as a Brass teacher and conductor of the Southampton Youth Orchestra. I didn`t realise until years after he died that he was part of this live studio performance with the Beatles.
    He certainly never mentioned it as far as I know – but then he was the sort of musician and person who wouldn`t need to,

  21. Bev

    Re the comment regarding the 4/4 – 3/4 content. I don’t know if anyone knows whether Ringo found that a problem or not – I suppose one could ask him – but that would not be showing love. I would have thought that he would cope, especially when you think of the number of times they must have gone through the number – albeit with the recording date drawing near. Is it not possible that Ringo was asked to keep the 4/4 going so that you had a gentle clash – then coming into sync again later when the 3/4 bars have actually “caught up”, so to speak, without going into the maths of it. Does anyone know the different influences that brought that alternate rhythm about? Could it have been John himself – I`d like to think so! He might have been going through it to himself and thought “to much gap – start a beat earlier” or even just find himself playing it like that without thinking, because it fitted better – then realised it was now a bar of 4 – then 3!. I suppose the possibilities are endless – but maybe someone else can clarify what actually happened. A very similar thing happens (for example) in “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff.

  22. Johan cavalli

    No, cdesim, you are not absolutely right. The interval between two two first notes in the chorus in “Aint She Sweet” is half, but in All You Need Is Love it is whole.

  23. Johan cavalli

    In his book about The Beatles, Jonathan Gould (2007) describes the year 1967 with The Beatles great singles: Strawberry Fields Forver, All You Need Is Love and I Am The Walrus — all are, as we know today, Lennon compositions.
    But 1968
    Ned Rorum in New York Review of Books, January 1968,
    Readers Digest 1968,
    The Pengiun Stereo Record Guide first edition,
    and Das Grosse Lexikon der Musik 1978,
    and many many others for many many years wrote that McCartney was the songwriter, or melody composer in The Beatles, not Lennon.
    How could this happen? That contributed to the split of The Beatles.

  24. Marc Pepin

    I remember reading in a book that both John and Paul were asked to submit s song for the telecast. We obviously know the song that John submitted but did Paul offer Your Mother Should Know or was it Altogether Now or Hello Goodbye? If I’m wrong on all three songs,which song did Paul offer? I’ve read in one book that it may have been Your Mother Should Know. Would love someone to answer this one for me Thanks.

  25. Johan cavalli

    Superficially heard the chorus “all you need is love” is monotonic, Lennon is singing on the same note, a little anthemic-like. But the point is that these same notes are necessary to fully to take part in the following little step upwards, a half interval, or a so called second, up.The effect is deeply moving, a cry from heart.
    In Music history this step is called “the lamentation second”. You can hear it in the “tutti e finito-motif” in Macbeth by Verdi. The lamentation second is known since the baroque-period.

    Lennon´s All You Need Is Love is The Beatles best song. It is moving and hypnotic.

    When the Swedish king recently was honoured on his birthday, they were singing this melody. It was wunerful.

Leave a reply