All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

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"All You Need Is Love" - The Beatles (1967)

"All You Need Is Love" was written for the program Our World- the world’s first live satellite TV broadcast to more than 400 million people in twenty-four countries.

John and Paul worked on separate songs. As Lennon’s composition was a simple message of “love and peace” and easier to understand- his was chosen. The track was extremely simple to sing, play, and very much defined the mood of the world’s youth at the onset of the “Summer of Love.”

Ringo said:

“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 think about it.”

Beatles publicist Derek Taylor added:

“When John was repeating love is all you need over and over, and then Paul called out all together now pop music never had a finer moment.”

Singing "She Loves You" and the english folk tune "Greensleeves" at the end of the song was ad-lib and made-up on the spot. Lennon said that they all played different instruments than what they were accustomed to because, as he stated:

“We just felt like doing it. There was no perception of how it sounded at the end until they did it that day, until the rehearsal.”

This is yet another Beatle song that is appealing and catchy, while revolving around only one chord.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack writes:

“The backing track is thickly made up of layers upon layers: the Beatles’ own rhythm track and guitar solo; the Yellow Submarine-like brass marching band; an electric piano and harpsichord; and that string section scored in a style that is like a strange cross between Mantovani / ‘101-Strings’-like schmaltz and the pseudo-surreality of Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Pollack says it shows sophistication in compositional style under a veneer of simplicity. Its repetitive melody is organized by a complex rhythmic design that expresses the mood of the pontificating lyrics.

He adds:

“Structurally, it seemed an extremely simple song but beneath the surface it was trickier than that, thanks to a vintage Lennonism: the dropping of a beat at the end of each verse. This subtle twist imparted extra speed and momentum to the song.”

“All You Need Is Love” was not without its critics. Author Mark Hertzgaard says it was little more than an embarrassing, if pleasant-sounding, banality.

Ian McDonald wrote:

“The fact was, that The Beatles were not doing willfully substandard work: paying little attention to musical values and settling for lyric first-thoughts on the principle that everything however haphazard meant something and if it didn’t- so what?”

The track communicated a sense of infinite possibility. It was always their belief that if something could be imagined, it could be done, and here they were saying it out loud for us all to hear.
The words contain more interest than initially meets the eye. You not only have the clever retrograde of the title phrase (“love is all you need”), but also some rather off-handedly delivered philosophical observations on the ironic tension between the attempts you make to self-direct life’s course and the way you learn from experience to accept the influence of so-called destiny.

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