When was it recorded? Jun. 1967
When was it first released, and on which album? Jul. 7, 1967 on “Magical Mystery Tour”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
(Tuesdays are never going to be easy for me, are they?)
In the summer of 1967, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the UK’s contribution to “Our World.” “Our World” was a live, international satellite TV production in which creative artists representing 14 countries appeared/performed. The event was transmitted around the globe simultaneously (innovative for the ‘60s, commonplace today) and watched by 400-700 million people… and the Beatles were slated to close the broadcast. No pressure.
Depending on whom you ask, John wrote “All You Need is Love” for the broadcast. Ringo and longtime producer George Martin say it was; George and Paul say, “eh, probably not.”
“I don’t think it was written specially for it. But it was one of the songs we had. … It was certainly tailored to it once we had it. But I’ve got a feeling it was just one of John’s songs that was coming there. We went down to Olympic Studios in Barnes and recorded it and then it became the song they said, ‘Ah. This is the one we should use.’ I don’t actually think it was written for it.” – Paul McCartney
Either way, it was a new song with a message of unity that everyone could easily understand.
Because I studied music and this was one of the first songs I learned on the guitar, I’m going to talk about the structure of this one a bit. The main verse is made up of two measures in 7/4 times followed by one 8/4 time measure, then one more 7/4 measure. Lather, rise, repeat (still not as annoying as playing in 5/4 time). The chorus is 4/4 throughout right up until the last bar – that closing “love is all you need” is a bar of 6/4. Just throw your metronome out the window on this one.
“All You Need” quite famously samples a number of songs. The intro starts with the French national anthem “La Marseillaise,” which royally fucked up me for life since I heard “All You Need” before we ever heard “Marseillaise.” The outro samples parts of the traditional “Greensleeves,” Bach’s “Invention No. 8 in F major,” Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” and the Beatles’ own, “She Loves You.” It also contains elements of the Wayne Shanklin-penned “Chanson D’Amour.” I’m not posting videos for all those so if you want to hear the similarities, you’re on your own.
The first performance of the song was on the “Our World” live broadcast. Quoth the Wikipedia, “For the broadcast, the Beatles were (except for Starr) seated on stools, accompanied by a small studio orchestra. They were surrounded by friends and acquaintances seated on the floor, many of whom were among the leading stars of the British pop scene, who sang with the refrain during the fade-out.” (You’re going to see for yourself in the following video, but I liked this description so there it is.) A lot of it the instrumentation and backing vocals were lip-synched from a pre-recorded track.
John has the lead vocals, which as you might notice sound slightly different from the vocals on the single. He and Ringo re-recorded their vocal and drum parts after the broadcast then overdubbed them onto the single version.
The day before “Our World,” the Beatles decided to make “All You Need is Love” their next single. It was released two weeks after the broadcast and went straight to #1 in the UK and the US. I’m in a mood even this song can’t fix so no insights/opinions tonight. Peace & love.