Day 5: “All I’ve Got to Do”

When was it recorded?  Sept. 11, 1963

When was it first released, and on which album?  Nov. 22, 1963 on “With the Beatles”

Who wrote it?  Lennon

Have I heard this song before?  Yes (but I didn’t realize it until re-listening)

What my research dug up:

“All I’ve Got to Do” was one of three songs Lennon was the principal writer for on “With the Beatles,” and he was quoted as saying he was “trying to do Smokey Robinson again” when writing this track.  Music critic Ian MacDonald compared it specifically to Robinson and the Miracles’ “You Can Depend on Me.”  However, after listening to them both I didn’t find the two songs as strikingly comparable as “12-Bar Original” and “Green Onions,” so I didn’t include a link to “You Can Depend on Me” in this post.

Lennon wrote “All I’ve Got to Do” specifically for the American market since calling someone you had a crush on wasn’t commonplace in Britain in the 1960s.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.  Getting in touch with before telephones must have been a nightmare (“Sorry you didn’t get that letter I sent four weeks ago…”).

Instrument arrangement-wise, historian Dennis Alstrand claims this song “is the first time in rock and roll or rock music where the bass player plays chords as a vital part of the song.”  I confess, that statement is hard for me wrap my brain around.  Fifty years later it’s kind of unimaginable… like, what did the bassist do before then?  Mimic the guitar part?  Clearly I have more research to do, but here’s the song.

While drafting this post I didn’t think “All I’ve Got to Do” was a song I had heard before.   Surprise, surprise, once I sat down and started listening to it, I knew exactly what song it was — I just didn’t know it was by the Beatles.  Talk about culture permeation.  The bass is, of course, great but check out that nifty drumwork going on in the background too.



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