The Beatles Classic George Harrison Called “A Perfect Song”

The Beatles Classic George Harrison Called “A Perfect Song”

To some, the opening bars of ‘La Marseillaise’ signify gallic pride, the first notes in the French national anthem. To others, it represents The Beatles, and one of their crowning achievements.

Released in the long hot summer of 1967, ‘All You Need Is Love’ became an anthem for the flower generation, with its simplistic lyrics rejecting the pace of the material world for an alternative form of existence. A real ear-worm, it was aired during the ambitious globe-reaching Our World broadcast, and went on to become an inter-continental smash.

Closing with a reprise of ‘She Loves You’, the basic yet also quietly ambitious track placed The Beatles in a modern cultural pantheon, while also offering insight into some of their basics social treatises. To George Harrison, it was “a perfect song”.

Speaking to VH1, he said: “It was just a perfect song because it was so simple. The message was so simple, and it was a good excuse to go right into that culture that was happening and give them a theme tune”.

By common regards the most spiritual Beatle – he would, after all, insist on taking them to India the following year – ‘All You Need Is Love’ forever held a special place in his heart. Largely sculpted by John Lennon, manager Brian Epstein extolled the song by telling Melody Maker:

“It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message. The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything.”

The song’s purposeful naivety became the stuff of mockery as the halo of the 60s passed. The materialistic 80s saw ‘All You Need Is Love’ lose its lustre, with John Lennon forced to defend the song in one of his final interviews, with Rolling Stone:

“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.”

Granada hosted a ‘Sgt. Peppers…’ 20th anniversary special in 1987, in which the remaining Beatles were asked about the song’s meaning. Ringo Starr largely demurred, Paul McCartney offered a measured defence, while only George Harrison went out to bat for the song, and its message of universal, unequivocal love.

Later, Q Magazine probed him on his affection for the song. He responded:

“They all said ‘All You Need Is Love’ but you also need such-and-such else. But … love is complete knowledge. If we all had total knowledge, then we would have complete love and, on that basis, everything is taken care of. It’s a law of nature.”

So, one more time:

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