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"All You Need Is Love"

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There's nothin' you can do that can't be done...

"All You Need Is Love", Lennon's first peace people anthem; coming hot on Sgt Pepper's heels — less than a month further into the 'Summer of Love' — remains the mantra of its time. Beatle memories are fuzzy over whether it was specifically written for the Our World broadcast, for which the BBC had commissioned them to represent Britain, or if it was a 'work in progress'.

It's hardly surprising that Beatle memories should be fuzzy about that summer, given the fuzziness of all of their heads throughout it.

Either way, its emission during the world's first satellite link-up got "The Word" across to an estimated 400 million viewers. While other nations demonstrated their traditional folk-dances and suchlike, The Beatles couldn't have been any clearer with the message that they had to share. 'The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted', said Brian Epstein. In the light of his lingering concerns over the band's apparent wane in popularity, their last single to be issued in his lifetime — along with Pepper — certainly saw them back on top (if, that is, they'd ever really been off it).

Nothing you can sing that can't be sung...

'A good piece of PR for God', George Harrison described it.

Love is the meaning of Life!
Life is the meaning of Love!


The singalong simplicity of the chorus message and those stoned sort-of-make-sense verse lyrics belie the enormous complexity of the song's structure: weird shifts between time signatures, and — of course — the wonderfully wacky orchestration. George Martin has always been well-renowned for his schoolmasterly straightness, but his surrealistic scoring of a hotchpotch of the French national anthem, "Greensleeves", Bach and Glenn Miller (amongst others) caught the fun and frivolity of freshly bloomed flower-power to perfection. That he remained so centred during the preparations is all the more remarkable, given the fact that he was also dealing with the death of his father at the time.

Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...

The orchestra performed live for the broadcast on June 25th, while The Beatles — resplendent in their hippie gear — played and sang over the instrumental backing tape, featuring John's harpsichord, Paul's double-bass and George's violin [!]. The Who's Keith Moon can be seen trying desperately to distract Ringo; whilst Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull, Eric Clapton and Graham Nash are amongst the clap-along crowd of beautiful people sat round on the studio floor surrounded by all those banners, balloons and other psychedelic paraphernalia.

Nothin' you can say, but you can learn how to play the game...

GM recorded the performance to use as the master, though the whole thing was revamped considerably for the single's release a couple of weeks later. Lennon re-recorded his vocal, probably without his mouth full of gum, and further ambient touches were added on.

Nothing you can make that can't be made...

Giving John a double-whammy, with "Baby You're A Rich Man" on the flip, this is the version later included on the US Magical Mystery Tour LP. It also proved to be all you need to beat the Blue Meanies in the Yellow Submarine movie.

Well played Elvis Costello, for sensing The Need for it's message to be reiterated in the context of Live Aid:

All together now,
Ev'rybody:
It's e-ea-sy!!!

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