I remember acquiring the sheet music to “All My Loving” when I was a year or so into guitar lessons. There was a picture of the Beatles in their collar-less jackets on the front cover posing around a wooden chair and grinning hard. I would have been about 10, 11 years old and I loved this song, hearing it as something quite complex with it’s confidant walking bass and chords in a constant state of moving, searching. The sheet music chords began with A minor – I clearly remember that – and the chords were within my range. The constant triplets in the rhythm guitar part were a bit of a challenge though and I spent a lot of time – a LOT of time – practicing the changes and the rhythm until I felt the time was right to put on the record and play along. I got everything set in the living room where the radiogram lived – a large piece of furniture with a record player located deep inside it. I lined the stylus up, got my guitar ready, dropped the stylus onto the rotating vinyl and… the record was in a completely different key! This was one of my first experiences where hard work, effort, attention to detail were as so much confetti in a howling gale of reality. The record is in E major. Maybe the guy who made the transcription at the publishing company thought that would be too hard for his target market, so he transposed it in order that budding guitar players who knew Am and D and G, not to mention horn players, who would otherwise have to transpose into a key with 6 sharps, wouldn’t be traumatized. But I vowed not to bother with sheet music ever again and would henceforth figure things out by ear – a decision which has panned out well over the years.
The Beatles recorded “All My Loving” in thirteen takes on the evening of 30th July 1963. It was never released as a single despite huge amounts of radio play, although it did appear on an EP of the same name and was one of the songs played on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance on the 9th February 1964. As Ian McDonald in his essential book “Revolution in The Head” says, “ Meanwhile, The Beatles rivals looked on in amazement as songs of this commercial appeal were casually thrown away on LPs.”
It first appeared on the “LP” With The Beatles in the UK. With The Beatles, with its iconic cover art of deep shadows, black and white, looked so much better than its predecessor Please Please Me and it sounded so much better too. As everybody knows, Please Please Me was recorded in a day, and perhaps the public school boys who ran EMI thought George Martin was making another one of his comedy records with these funny kids from Liverpool playing ridiculous pop music and singing it with a ridiculous accent – how wrong could you be??
With The Beatles sounded like no expense had been spared to capture the energy of its performances. Tracks like “It Won’t Be Long”, “All I’ve Gotta Do” and “Please Mister Postman” sounded raw and sophisticated at the same time; Lennon’s vocal, urgent, commanding, unapproachable. McCartney on “All My Loving” is, by contrast, warm, urbane and playful. As in so many of his subsequent songs he seems to be “in character”, sophisticated enough to be dabbling in Tin-Pan-Alley clichés one minute – the descending 5ths in the harmony, the promises of eternal love in the lyrics – then being classic Beatles the next, rubbing D major and B major together at the end of the 8 bar phrases. The appearance of the chord of D major (on the word “True”) in an otherwise pristine key of E major is considered by some to be revolutionary, creating a change in “Pop” harmonic consciousness without which there would be no “Rock” – discuss… Interestingly the jazzy version recorded here avoids that steely “Rock” change and substitutes something warmer and less controversial.
The other part of the song that flirts with musical vocabulary way beyond the average hit tune of the day is the chorus. Or is that a sort of middle 8? As so often in a Beatles tune, the hooks are there from the beginning – you never have to “wait” for a chorus to “get” the song. This section is the bit where the title of the song is sung twice – a normal chorus feature, but the harmony is in the minor key and then falls away producing a chord in the second bar that is quite dark – is Paul already having doubts about just how true he is going to be while he’s away? Ringo’s contribution here is fantastic with his snare hitting all four beats in the bar. The Uke version, recorded here by Janice Pendarvis, explores the harmonic potential of this section in a way that finds more pathos. The words are affirmative, but the music is telling us something else.
As I listen to the Beatles version again, aside from the irresistible positive energy of the song itself, captured in a great performance, it is the contrary motion in the bass and vocal parts that still sends a thrill down the spine – those two melodic lines, high and low, fully independent, heading off in different directions then coming together again, like watching railway tracks rushing past from a moving train window. Those curving lines are contrasted by John’s straight lines of guitar triplets and Ringo’s high energy splash. And then of course there is George’s carefully thought through guitar solo that would still take a while to figure out – by ear of course…
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Janice Pendarvis is an eclectic, elegant, enthusiastic and world-class performer who loves to sing R&B, pop, jazz, reggae, rock and avant-garde music. She has worked with a diverse roster of artists including Philip Glass, Peter Tosh, Sting, The O’Jay’s, Laurie Anderson, Roberta Flack, The Rolling Stones, Najee, Ben E. King, Aaron Neville, Barry White, and Jimmy Cliff. She has made cameo appearances on SNL and often sings with music guests/skits on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Janice is featured in the documentary film Bring on the Night, the concert film Home of the Brave and other DVD’s and videos. Janice also has a distinguished career in voiceovers and is featured in the book, Secrets of Voiceover Success. Her speaking voice has been heard in countless commercials, TV promos and films. She is equally at home in her roles as a lead singer, support vocalist, announcer, voice actor and on-camera personality.