Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Beatles: All You Need Is Love (...and a TV).

             A landmark moment for The Beatles and television was BBC and a program called Our World in 1967 “The BBC had come up with the idea of using the newly installed relays to connect the national television networks of countries all around the world” (Miles 354).  This major technological feat meant that all around the world, people would tune in to see humanity from across the globe.  Twenty-six countries participated and were connected to the sattelite coverage and each country chose a representative to embody the country and their people.  “As the BBC put it, ‘for the first time ever, linking five continents and bringing man face to face with mankind, in places as far apart as Canberra and Cape Kennedy, Moscow and Montreal, Samarkand and Soderfors, Takamatsu and Tunis’” (qtd. in Miles 354).  Britain chose The Beatles.  “Rather than play one of their existing hits, or something off Sgt. Pepper [the album they were currently working on], they composed a new single specially for the programme" (Miles 354).  Wanting to create a song that would resonate with many cultures (and many who did not speak English), the idea was to make the chorus simple so as to be able to follow it.  “In June, The Beatles performed Lennon’s ‘All You Need Is Love’ …to an audience of 400 million people”  (Blaney 59).  Paul explains the song:
“All You Need Is Love” was John’s song.  I threw in a few ideas, as did other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing “She Loves You” or “Green Sleeves” or silly little things at the end and we made those up on the spot. Knowing that millions of the viewers would not understand English, John kept the chorus as simple as possible.  It was the philosophy of Sgt. Pepper and the era reduced to five words…The chorus “All You Need Is Love” is simple, but the verse is quite complex…[with an] anthemic chorus…(Miles 354).

         The technological feat of reproducing The Beatles’s tracks for a live performance was complicated as many of their more recent music required mixing in a studio, and would be hard to reproduce live.  “It took five days of recording and mixing to get the song right but Paul’s bass, John’s vocal, George’s solo and Ringo’s drums, as well as the orchestra, were all broadcast live during the event” (Miles 354).  And since this television event was to represent England and the various artistic contributions the country has made, The Beatles chose to include a chorus of various British icons.  “The Beatles invited Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick [Jagger] and Marianne [Faithfull] and dozens of other friends to the session, which was staged as a party in Studio One at Abbey Road” (Miles 354).  Here is a moment when The Beatles were served by television by playing for a global audience.  The evidence of this is clear: “the single was released two weeks later and became a hit all around the world.” (Miles 354).  And then television was served because this was the first major all-world broadcast, a moment in television history where a broadcast of this size, magnitude and logistics were realized successfully.  

Check out this clip of the band on the worldwide event:

-The Beatles Anthology, Dir. Kevin Godley 
-Blaney, John.  John Lennon: In His Life.
-Davies, Hunter. The Beatles.
-Miles, Barry.  Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now.

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