In May of 1967, the BBC announced their idea of broadcasting the very first television show that would be broadcast live around the world, called “Our World”. The recent satellite advances created the ability to link up feeds around the world and the BBC thought it would also promote the idea of global unity. The Beatles were approached to write a song for this event, and were told that the song had to be simple enough to be easily understood by up to 500 million people in 31 countries.
Paul McCartney's submission was "Your Mother Should Know", while John Lennon submitted "All You Need is Love". Legend has it that while McCartney's was too "backwards looking"(1) and too complicated, "All You Need is Love" was a stroke of genius that proclaimed the universally understood concept of Love, as well as instinctively echoing the newly developed technological "holding of hands", i.e. link ups, around the world. It spoke to the future possibilities of global harmony.
The message of "All You Need is Love" went beyond romantic love, and this was made clear by the ending reference to their old song, She Loves You, “she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah…” a nice nostalgic twist that made the point that The Beatles had grown up, and their idea of “love” now encompassed a bigger love – love for humanity and a desire for world peace.
“Our World” was broadcast June 25, 1967, and The Beatles' performance of "All You Need is Love" was recorded live for release as their next single. Abbey Road Studios was filled with flowers, streamers and balloons. Placards showing the song title in different languages were held up. The Beatles now donned colorful costumes, while Ringo and George had their “Sgt. Pepper” mustaches.
John’s nervousness over this ground-breaking broadcast to all of humanity (or most---the Soviet Bloc countries pulled out) was masked by his nonchalant demeanor during the show—sitting on a stool chewing gum and holding the left ear of his head set. It showed the world what John Lennon looked like when he was working, yet he made it look so easy.
The song was released as their next single within days, and would be forever marked as their message of love to the world.
John Lennon would have been proud (and surprised) to know that forty-two years later, on December 7, 2009, people in 156 countries were filmed singing "All You Need Is Love" at exactly the same time. The purpose was to raise awareness of AIDS in Africa.
This video is an amazing testament to the growth of global communications since that first broadcast, and a fitting tribute to the man who wrote the song and always wanted world peace.