In 1967, John Lennon captured the spirit of "The Summer Of Love" with the words All You Need is Love.
A generation of young people was heard calling for the whole world to join in a celebration of love and friendship for their fellow human beings, regardless of their race, religion or indeed their opinion on anything from fashion to politics. (An idea that could be repeated today in my humble opinion - if I am allowed to have one, of course, ha ha)
The first time the world heard this classic song was on a global TV project called "Our World." It was the very first live worldwide TV special, lasting for six hours, featuring music from Europe, Africa, Asia, America & Oceania. The idea of the project was to get to know the culture of our friends around the world and what better way to do that than by the sharing of music?
"Our World" was watched by an estimated 7 million viewers across the globe: an enormous number when you consider that there were still many households that didn't own a TV set in 1967!
The Beatles were asked to represent Great Britain by writing and performing a song which would be understood by people of all nations. All You Need is Love was a popular slogan at the time as people demonstrated against the futile Vietnam War: it seemed to fit the bill perfectly as a song for the whole world to sing.
The writing of this song began in May 1967, with Paul McCartney and John Lennon working on different songs. The simplicity of Lennon's song was perfect for the nations of the world to understand, remember and play.
John Lennon was fascinated by the effect that slogans had on society. He admitted that he liked advertising and the telly. Taking a popular slogan and turning it into a song was a masterstroke and one which he repeated for other songs. In an interview in 1971 about his song Power to the People, he was asked if that song was propaganda. His reply was "Sure. So was All You Need is Love. I'm a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change."
All You Need is Love begins by sampling the French national anthem, Marseillaise. A the end of the track, Paul Mc Cartney can be heard singing a line from an earlier Beatles hit, She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah.
The Beatles played most of the instruments themselves on the backing track which was used for the live performance on 25th June 1967.
John Lennon – harpsichord, banjo
Paul McCartney – bass, double bass,
George Harrison – lead guitar, violin,
Ringo Starr – drums
Other musicians were brought it to play the brass section and George Martin played the piano.
Among the voices heard in the choral section were: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd, Mike McGear, Keith Moon, Graham Nash and Gary Leeds of The Walker Brothers.
The day before "Our World" was televised, The Beatles decided that All You Need is Love should be their next single. It made it to No.1 in 10 charts around the world.
A quote from John Lennon in 1980:
Maybe in the Sixties we were naive and like children and later everyone went back to their rooms and said, "We didn't get a wonderful world of flowers and peace." … Crying for it wasn't enough. The thing the Sixties did was show us the possibility and the responsibility we all had.
As someone who inclines towards conspiracy theories, I can't help feeling that John Lennon had the makings of a powerful man. Perhaps he could have brought a quantity of peace to the world which may have been inconvenient to some powerful people. He was murdered by Mark Chapman on 8th December 1980.