As chosen by Roger Daltrey, Ray Davies, Brian Wilson, Alex Turner and more…

From The Beatles album, Help! (August 1965)
Vulnerable, acoustic ballad – perhaps inspired by Dylan’s “I Don’t Believe You [She Acts Like We Have Never Met]” – written and recorded in just two hours.

Ray Davies: When he got killed, I was doing the Palladium in New York a week or so later. I wanted to play this. I copped out because I couldn’t rehearse it with The Kinks, and in those days I had to do everything with them. Me and Dave should’ve just got up and done it on acoustic guitars. John could be a cruel man. He was very hurtful to me once, early on. But this is my favourite song by him because it shows the vulnerability he felt he had to press down, back then; the softness he had to hide.


The Beatles single (July 1967). Highest UK chart position: 1
The defining statement for a generation, famously beamed into homes around the globe through a live TV broadcast featuring many famous friends – including the Stones…

Billy Bragg: For Lennon, it’s pretty un-cynical. He often leavened his political songs with a bit of cynicism, as was his way. But here he’s talking about the one thing that typified his generation. Songs had previously only addressed love in purely relationship terms, and “All You Need Is Love” suddenly takes on the status of a global movement. As with the greatest political songs, like “The Times They Are A Changing” or “Blowin’ In The Wind”, it doesn’t offer a solution, so you can bring your own perspective to it. The political songs that endure are the most accessible to people, and this is incredibly accessible, isn’t it? “There’s no one you can save that can’t be saved”. That’s a pretty powerful line to put in a love song. That song showed me that the most commercial band of the Sixties were able to reflect what was happening in the world, that pop music wasn’t about escapism. After Sgt Pepper had blown everybody’s mind, to come back in the Summer Of Love with that song and for it to be broadcast all around the world as the message from a generation – “All you need is love” – Lennon created the high water mark of the Sixties. What happens next is Epstein dies within a month and The Beatles just lose their innocence, that ability to turn everything they touch into gold. Magical Mystery Tour gets a right spanking, although the songs are great. And then in 1968, Martin Luther King is killed, Bobby Kennedy is killed. The White Album is a clear message that something’s not right now. Where do you go “After All You Need Is Love”?

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