The Beatles Songs: "All You Need Is Love"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The original US sleeve for "All You Need Is Love".

All You Need Is Love

Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: June 14, 1967 (Olympic Sound Studios, London, England); June 19, 1967 (Studio 3, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
; June 23, 1967; June 24, 1967; June 25, 1967; June 26, 1967 (Studio 1, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: June 21, 1967; June 26, 1967; November 1, 1967; October 29, 1968
Length: 3:57
Takes: 58


John Lennon: lead vocals, harpsichord, banjo
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass guitar (Rickenbacker 4001S), bass violin
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar (Fender Stratocaster "Sonic Blue"), violin
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), tambourine
Orchestra (conducted by Mike Vickers):
Sidney Sax: violin
Patrick Halling: violin
Eric Bowie: violin
John Ronayne: violin
Lionel Ross: cello
Jack Holmes: cello
Rex Morris: tenor saxophone
Don Honeywill: tenor saxophone
Evan Watkins: trombone
Harry Spain: trombone
Stanley Woods: trumpet, flugelhorn
David Mason: piccolo trumpet
Jack Emblow: accordion
Mick Jagger, Gary Leeds, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Eric Clapton, Jane Asher, Patti Harrison, Mike McCartney, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, Hunter Davies: backing vocals (on chorus), handclaps

First released: July 7, 1967 (UK: Parlophone R5620), July 17, 1967 (US: Capitol 5964)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

Magical Mystery Tour, (UK: Parlophone PCTC 255, US: Capitol (S)MAL 2835, Parlophone CDP 7 48062 2)
Yellow Submarine, (UK: Apple PMC 7070, PCS 7070; US: Apple SW 153, Parlophone CDP 46445 2, "Songtrack": Capitol/Apple CDP 7243 5 21481 2 7)
The Beatles 1967-1970, (UK: Apple PCSP 718, US: Apple SKBO 3404, Apple CDP 0777 7 97039 2 0)
The Beatles 1, (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2)

Highest chart position: 1 (UK: three weeks beginning July 19, 1967); 1 (US: August 19, 1967)


Written specifically (by most accounts) for the international television broadcast Our World, shown in 17 countries around the world on July 25, 1967. The idea was to create the world's first international live broadcast using then-new satllite technology. The group were approached to write and perform a new song for the live telecast; in two weeks, John Lennon came up with this song, supposedly constructed around a word every language understood: love. (Reports differ on whether the song was actually written prior to the offer, or whether Paul McCartney also attempted to create a song for the event.)

It was decided early on that the song would be played and sung "live" to a pre-recorded backing track, the scope of the production being so vast. On June 14, a guide track was laid down featuring John on harpsichord, Paul on bass violin, George on violin, and Ringo on tambourine. Drums, piano, and John on lead vocal and banjo were overdubbed on the 19th, along with some editing; orchestral overdubs along with additional instruments were added on the 23rd and 24th.

Finally, this mix was played during the live broadcast on the 25th, with John singing lead, Paul on bass, Ringo on drums, George on lead guitar, and a small live orchestra. Uncomfortable with his nervous performance, John recut his lead vocal a few hours later, away from cameras; the next day Ringo's drum roll was added as an intro and a final mix was made. This is the mix we know as the hit single. (George's guitar solo, while far from perfect during the broadcast, was left in the final version anyway.)

The final product was remixed twice again later, in November 1967 for inclusion in the upcoming Yellow Submarine movie, and in October of the following year in stereo. (The Beatles often made separate stereo mixes for their songs rather than just mixing a stereo version down to mono.)

To go along with the international theme of the broadcast, it was decided within the band that several snatches of internationally recognized songs be used in the mix to represent different cultures. The orchestra played these snatches live and in the studio, in the following order: "La Marseillaise" (the national anthem of France), Bach's "2-part Invention #8" (Germany), "Greensleeves" (Britain), Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" (America), and Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" (written by a Brit in honor of Denmark). Unfortunately, "In The Mood," being more recent, still had a copyright, and the Beatles were forced into an out-of-court settlement with the Miller estate.

During rehearsal, John spontaneously began singing "Yesterday" and "She Loves You" as an ironic commentary of sorts on the fadeout's montage of songs. This was replicated during the broadcast and left into the final version. Much debate has arisen over who sings "She Loves You" in the finished product, but the "Beatles recording anomalies" website What Goes On proves conclusively that both John and Paul are singing it. (Some have heard "Yesterday" as "Yes it is," while Paul Is Dead theorists believe John is actually saying "Yes he's dead" in reference to Paul. A close listen proves both theories incorrect.)

The verses of this song are in 7/4 time, with 3/4 bridges and standard 4/4 choruses (although John is singing against the beat in a straight 4/4). This makes "All You Need Is Love" the first US Top 20 hit in that meter, followed only by Pink Floyd's "Money" in 1973.


  • The original lyrics for this song were left behind after the broadcast on John's music stand and snapped up by an associate; in 2005 they were auctioned to a private collector for $1.2 million.
  • This was the last Beatles song recorded before the untimely death of manager Brian Epstein, which ironically led to a great deal of love lost between the band members.
  • George Harrison quotes this song in his own 1981 solo hit "All Those Years Ago," a loving tribute to John recorded and released in the months following his murder: "You point the way to the truth when you say all you need is love."
  • This song was featured in the climactic final episode of the UK sci-fi series The Prisoner, as well as entrance music for Queen Elizabeth II during the UK Millenial celebrations of 1999. It was also sung by choirs across the kingdom in 2002 during the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebration.
  • The American diaper brand Luv's has licensed a cover of this song for a 2007 ad, outraging many purists.
  • This song was played at Al and Tipper Gore's wedding in May of 1970.
  • Constantly asked in interviews whether the song's title is good philosophy, Paul McCartney once admitted, "Is love all you need? I don't know, really. I don't know what you need. I'm just some fella."

Covered by: John Bayless, Duster Bennett, Einstürzende Neubauten, Elvis Costello, Echo and the Bunnymen, Ferrante and Teicher, The 5th Dimension, Enrique Iglesias, Anita Kerr, Nada Surf, Oasis, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rod Stewart, Tears For Fears, Vienna Boys Choir