Recent Posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekly Top Five

Beatles Edition!

4. "All You Need is Love"
Single; original telecast 25 June, 1967
Secondary release on the album "Magical Mystery Tour" 27 November, 1967
A-Side; "Baby, You're a Rich Man" B-Side

Arguably no Beatles song has quite captured the idyllic zeitgeist of the 1960s quite like “All You is Love”. Released in mid-1967, the song was written by John Lennon as The Beatles contribution to a live global telecast that brought together 18 different countries in one celebratory, and historic, satellite feed. Recorded and broadcast completely live the song would be worthy of a spot on this list for any number or compelling reasons: the historic occasion of its creation, the iconic opening*, the classic fade-out which features Paul singing a brief snippet of the earlier Beatles hit “She Loves You”. But what really sets this song apart from the rest of The Beatles’ stellar catalog is the optimism and singularity of its message.

In multiple interviews through the years Paul McCartney has said that “All You Need is Love” is his favorite Beatles song because it perfectly encapsulates what he feels is the over-all message of the band: that Love is the only thing on Earth which is powerful enough to defeat all manner of evils. Though on the surface “All You Need is Love” appears rather banal, it’s sing-song melody and backing vocals and simplicity of lyric belies a remarkable depth of message. Lines like “There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known / nothing you can see that isn’t shown / there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be / it’s easy” exude the sort of anything-is-possible attitude that characterized the Summer of Love and yet are universal enough** that generations of music listeners have been able to hang whatever meaning they want on them. It is the universality of the message, which remains as true today as it was 40 years ago, which has made this song one of the most beloved pop songs of all time despite the relative pickling of attitudes through the years.

Furthermore, “All You Need is Love” is a textbook example of 3 minutes of pure pop genius. Nearly every moment of the song is iconic. From the aforementioned intro and outro to the doo-wop backing vocals; from the jaunty, jazz-age horn section to the pitch-perfect lyricism of George Harrison’s guitar solo, “All You Need is Love” is a song that seems both to exist in a specific time and yet outside of time entirely***, existing both as an idyllic and potent symbol of the Love Generation and a symbol of optimism and stubborn idealism in the face of a steadily growing tide of cynicism.

There is more than enough distrust and hate in the world and as much for that reason as any of the previously mentioned, “All You Need is Love” is my pick for 4th best Beatles song.

5. "Paperback Writer"
4. "All You Need is Love"

*Lifted from the French National Anthem.
**and contain a certain Lennon-ish underlying darkness in my estimation. I mean, “No one you can save that can’t be saved”? That’s a classic Lennon kiss off if I’ve ever heard one.
***As all great songs do.