John claimed “Any Time at All” was an attempt to rewrite “It Won’t Be Long” saying:
“Same ilk: C to A minor, C to A minor—with me shouting.”
However its searing vocal and clever piano-guitar interplay prevented it from being a mere retread.
Said to be influenced by the music of Buddy Holly, the song focuses on the pledge of a man’s continual commitment and devotion to a woman. It was on of the band’s boyant rockers due to the classic shouting vocal from Lennon, and distinguished musically by the piano solo which is echosed- nearly note-for-note on George Harrison’s guitar.
Beatle scholar Alan Pollack points out that “Any Time At All” is a good example of a Beatle song
whose form and content on the surface seems so straightforward and familiar, yet “once you get past the surface glitz, and the simpler pleasures, you find a wealth of more adventurous options to be explored. “
Pollack says that it is a typical “John song” of the early 1964 period as it contains a large number of compositional devices and tricks used in this song which could be considered many of his songwriting trademarks.
Describing the solo, musicologist Tim Riley says it is shared between guitar (left) and piano (right) is a dialogue. The guitar starts high and ends low; the piano begins low and ends up high.
“They play in contrary motion in the beginning (the guitar moving downward and the piano moving upward), join forces in the middle to play quarter-note triplets, and the piano summarizes the exchange by closing with the guitar figure that echoes each refrain.”
Beatle expert Wilfred Mellers believes “Any Time At All” is not a straight love song with the man saying how much he will never fail her. Yet it’s no dreamy wish-fulfilment number, either as it is powerfully sung by John- tough, hard, resilient. He adds:
“This is one of the bleakest, more Negroid of early Beatle songs, directly recalling not only the blues but, more decisively, the Gospel shout.”