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All You Need Is Love

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the Beatles song. For the single by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, see All You Need Is Love (The JAMs song).

"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon (with contributions from Paul McCartney) and first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first ever live global television link. Broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 350 million people, the program was broadcast via satellite on June 25, 1967. The BBC had commissioned The Beatles to write a song for the UK's contribution to the program and this was the result. It is among the most famous and significant songs written by The Beatles.


Asked to come up with a song containing a simple message that would be understood by viewers of all nationalities, John's "All You Need is Love" extended the message that he had first tried to put across in "The Word," from their 1965 album Rubber Soul. "It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message," said Brian Epstein. "The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." John was fascinated by the power of slogans to unite people and was never afraid to create art out of propaganda. When asked in 1971 whether songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Power to the People" were propaganda songs, he answered, "Sure. So was 'All You Need Is Love.' I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change."

The song was so well-received that the band decided it should be their next single. Released in the UK on July 7th, it went straight to No. 1 and remained there for three weeks. It was similarly successful in the US (also appearing on the American LP version of Magical Mystery Tour in December).

It was also the last song both recorded and released by the band before the tragic and untimely death of their manager, Brian Epstein, on August 27, 1967, little more than a month after the song was released. Arguably, because Epstein was such a driving force behind the group's success and often gave them constructive criticism, as well as helping considerably to form the uniform look and feel of the group, it could be seen as the pivotal event that led to the group's individual careers and the eventual breakup of The Beatles. John Lennon himself referred to this in an interview in 1970: "When Brian died I knew that was it. I knew we'd had it." Indeed, his absence of direction and clarification is particularly felt in the ill-fated movie Magical Mystery Tour which followed four months after his death.

Live broadcast

For the live broadcast, The Beatles were (except for Ringo) seated on stools, and accompanied by a small studio orchestra. They were surrounded by many friends and acquaintances (seated on the floor), who sang along with the refrain during the fade-out, including Mick Jagger and Kim McLagan. Lennon, despite affecting indifference, was said to be quite nervous about the broadcast, given the potential size of the international TV audience. Somewhat dissatisfied with his vocal performance, he subsequently re-recorded the solo verses in the studio for use on the single release.



Because of the setting of a worldwide satellite broadcast, the song was deliberately given an international feel, opening with the French anthem "La Marseillaise," and including snatches of several other pieces during the long fade-out, including "2-part Invention #8 in F" by Johann Sebastian Bach (transposed to G and played on 2 piccolo trumpets), "Greensleeves" (played by the strings), Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" (played on a saxophone), one of The Beatles' seminal hits (particularly in Great Britain), "She Loves You" (spontaneously ad-libbed by John and Paul), and Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince Of Denmark's March" lilting off at the end. (Many sources, including Beatles' producer George Martin, have misremembered or misidentified the Bach quote as being from the "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2".)

The structure of the song is somewhat complex. It begins with background vocals repeatedly singing "Love, love, love", over the top of which enter Lennon's enigmatic lyrics in 7/4 time:

By contrast, the chorus, in 4/4 time is pure simplicity: "All you need is love", repeated against various backgrounds.

It remains one of only two songs (along with Pink Floyd's "Money") written in 7/4 time to reach the top 20 charts in the United States.


The song was later used in the series finale of the science fiction television series, The Prisoner. The song is used in an ironic context when the lead character leads a bloody attack on the Village while the song is played.

Elvis Costello sang it with the aid of just one guitar at the Wembley leg of Live Aid. It was also used to herald the entrance of Queen Elizabeth II into the Millennium Dome during the United Kingdom's millennial celebrations on 31 December 1999, having been voted the nation's favorite song. A part of the song is also used in the movie Moulin Rouge!. The song appeared again in the wedding scene in the movie Love Actually. The britpop band Oasis has performed this song live. It was also parodied by The Rutles in their film All You Need is Cash as "Love Life".

Nada Surf's 2006 cover of "All You Need is Love" was featured in a Chase Credit Card commercial in the US.

Echo & The Bunnymen's cover can be found on the 2003 re-releasing of the CD Ocean Rain.

Einstürzende Neubauten's song Headcleaner (Tabula Rasa) contains the lyrics for all you need is love, except they are in a skewed tense. Where the original goes:

in Neubauten's version the line goes

The line 'All you need is Love' is also replaced with, 'All you need is HEADCLEANER'.


  • Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song, Harper, New York: 1994, ISBN 0-06-095065-X
  • MacDonald, Ian. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties, Great Britain: 1994, ISBN 0-8050-2780-7

External links

  • Lyrics
  • Alan W Pollack's Notes on "All You Need Is Love"
  • [1]
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