“All You Need is Love” is easily one of the Beatles’ most iconic songs, and it perfectly captures the flower power spirit of 1967, but as a composition, it’s not really the most exciting piece in their catalog. Sure, you have the cool little “She Loves You” throwback, and you can’t deny that orchestra, but in terms of both lyrics and production it’s possibly the most “of its time” Beatles song ever.
Now, I can’t fault John for the lyrics, even if the verses feel like a rejected first draft of the verses of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The message was pretty fitting given that “All You Need is Love” was composed for the historic global Our World satellite broadcast. He was aiming for a universal message, and he accomplished that. However, I can fault him for chewing gum while recording it. That just seems a bit overly casual to me. I don’t know about you, but I only chew gum when I’m mindlessly doing something I don’t find terribly important, such as watching movies or going to royal weddings.
If you thought Pippa Middleton’s butt caused a stir, you should have seen the look on the queen’s face when I offered her some Dubble Bubble.
Going through and doing this ranking has made me realize that during this period, the Beatles employed a trick of taking weird, surprising detours towards the end of certain songs (“Lovely Rita,” “Hello Goodbye”). I don’t know if this was just a natural result of their growing comfort with experimenting or a conscious desire to keep listeners on their toes, but I like it. In the cases of “Lovely Rita” and “All You Need is Love,” it’s probably my favorite part of the songs. When John begins repeating the mantra “Love is all you need,” things get a little more chaotic and almost threatening. All you need is dichotomy.