All You Need Is Love
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1968
Chords/Tabs: All You Need Is Love
Notes on the "All You Need Is Love " (AYNIL)
KEY G Major
METER 4/4 (alternate verse measures and others are 3/4)
FORM Intro -> Verse ->
Verse -> Verse -> Refrain ->
Verse (guitar solo) -> Refrain ->
Verse -> Refrain -> Refrain -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- In terms of release dates, this song followed remarkably close on the
heels of _Sgt. Pepper_. Its genesis and original debut are matters
of recording and broadcast history, the details of which I urge you to
seek elsewhere to the extent that they are relatively tangential to
our own perspective on the music, per se. I could easily argue, by
the same token, that the song cannot be considered in isolation of
the broadcast's production values and effect; but maybe I'm just being
perverse, a wiseguy, or both :-)
- I do strongly recommend that you exert yourself to hear a good quality,
complete version of the actual 6/25/67 broadcast, and as much of the video
clips of it that have shown up in various documentaries over the years.
Media-wise, this track is designed with sort of the reverse experiential
strategy used in
There, the blind mystery of the audio-only medium
adds an important element of surprise. Here, without the video clues, I
dare say that some of the complexity and point of the procedings is lost.
The string players with their clunky earphones, the group also wearing
earphones while sitting on high stools, and the crowd of all our friends
sitting on the floor in their colorful "costumes" are somehow part of
the message that is lost on vinyl; Professor McLuhan should have been
- The form contains the unusual twist of opening with three consecutive
verses. I prefer to parse this at the high level with the first verse
being more a part of the intro than of the body of the song; note how
this first verse does NOT present the tune of the song, but rather
establishes the "love, love, love" chorus part which serves as vocal
wallpaper for the rest of the verses which follow. And, yes, I know;
for the later verses the pattern is changed to a melissma on a single
utterance of The Word.
- The music is cast in a variation of the campy, anthem-ic march style
used before on the likes of
"Yellow Submarine," though in this case,
the number of diverse montage elements used is more complex than
before, and the limping meter used in the verses prevents the "march"
from sounding too obvious.
- The words, too, contain more interest than initially meets the eye.
You not only have the clever retrograde of the title phrase ("love is
all you need"), but also some rather off handedly delivered philosophical
observations on the ironic tension between the attempts you make to
self-direct life's course and the way you learn from experience to
accept the influence of so-called destiny. Yes, the lyrics are more
to the point than my characterization of them.
Melody and Harmony
- The tune is dominated by a handful of simple motifs: a downward
scale fragment reminiscent of "Three Blind Mice" that juicy
appoggiatura on the word "easy" in the verse, a fanfare-like hammering
on a single note for the title phrase in the refrain, followed by an
upward chromatic scale fragment that fancifully imitates the downward
fragment offered by the brass band obligatto.
- The most unifying motif is one in the bassline that rises at the
end of each phrase (dotted quarter notes D - E - G), and by no
accident, I'm positive, this very phrase matches identically the
"intentionally misquoted" fragment of the "Marseillaise" used in
the intro. From the 1812 Overture to Casablanca, the French
nationalistic anthem is a ready-made cliche that is correctly
quoted enough of the time that I say what the Beatles did here
can be no accident. Even Robert Schumann gets it right in his
lied about the Two Grenadiers.
- The harmony of the song shares with ADITL that wistful wilting
away from G Major to e minor.
- The backing track is thickly made up of layers upon layers: the
Beatles' own rhythm track and guitar solo; the "Yellow Submarine"-
like brass marching band; an electric pinao and harpsichord; and that
string section scored in a style that is like a strange cross between
Montovani/101-Strings-like schmaltz and the pseudo/surreality of
"Strawberry Fields Forever."
- The vocal arrangement is comparatively straightforward, with the
so-called wallpaper from the backing vocals in the verses, John's
lead vocal, additional backing vocal assisancet from the others in
the refrain, and those inevitable booster callouts from Paul.
- The intro is three measures long and opens up the procedings with
that non-sequitor of an instrumental misquote of the "Marseillaise,"
dressed up to sound vaguely Baroque in style because of the trills
in the last measure:
|G D |G |C a D|
I V I IV ii V
- The overall harmonic motion of this verse vacillates back and forth
between I and V. I've taken the trouble to "analyze" the intervening
chords, but Heinrich Schenker and his disciples would shame me with
their preference we focus here on the melodic motion of the two outer
voices in parallel 10ths.
4 3 4 3
chords |G D |e |G D |vi |
bassline|G F# |E D E|G F# |E D E|
G: I V6/3 vi (V) I V6/3 vi (V)
4 4 4 3
|a e |D e |D |G D |
|A G |F# E |D C |B C D D E|
ii vi6/3 V vi V 4/2 I6/3 V
- The phrasing of this verse is four square even if the measure lengths are
not. The pattern is AAA'B (4 * 2) or if you wish, I can call it AAB
((2 * 2) + 4). The interpolation of the 3/4 meter follows a pattern,
though not a slavishly predictable one.
- In contrast to the verse, our refrain here is *almost* (but not quite)
completely four square; being eight measures in length (4 + 4) with
only the final measure limping in 3.
4 4 4 4
|G a |D |G a |D |
I ii7/11 V I ii7/11 V
4 4 4 3
|G B |e |C D |I |
I V-of-vi vi IV V
- The chord in the second half of measures 1 and 3 is contains one of
*the* characterizing harmonies of the track. Regardless of how I've
analyzed it, the fingerprint-like signs to note there is the Major
second between A and G in the backing vocals combined with D in the tune.
- The repeat of the final refrain combined with the extended outro lends
quite a bit of formalistic weight to the ending of this track; the
combination of sections filling out ~1:40 of a track whose total length
is just ~3:52. The delay of any noticeable amount of fadeout until
just the last 30 seconds or so only adds to this weight.
- The outro finally shifts entirely to 4/4 to provide a subtly different
wallpaper pattern for the fadeout, though that rhythmically dotted D-E-G
bassline motif persists all the way to the sweet end.
- "Montage" is, indeed, the correct term for the stream-of-consciousness
pastiche of musical tidbits used in this outro, though somehow it doesn't
seem to do the music justice; such is terminology.
- The Bach trumpet duet is from the opening of the Two Part Invention in
F Major (*NOT* from the 2nd Brandenburg as Lewisohn reports), transposed
to key of our song and played in its tempo. Not so for Greensleeves
which appears in that tonally cubistic style one associates with Charles
Ives. In the Mood is played in the correct key but not quite in tempo
or at least not in meter.
- Paul's ostinato breaks down for a precious moment ~30 seconds from the
end; just before John's blurts out his "Yeserday" non-sequitor.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- To my ears, their quote from
"She Loves You" goes beyond the merely
clever literary association of the lyrics to become the more profound
musical equivalent of the the wax models on the cover of Sgt. Pepper.
"Ready when you are, uncle George" 081196#118
Copyright (c) 1996 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
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