It's All Too Much

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"It's All Too Much"
Song by the Beatles from the album Yellow Submarine
Released 13 January 1969 (US)
17 January 1969 (UK)
Recorded 25–26 May, and 2 June 1967
De Lane Lea Studios, 129 Kingsway, London
Genre Psychedelic rock, pop rock,[1] progressive rock[2]
Length 6:28
Label Apple Records
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Martin
Yellow Submarine track listing

"It's All Too Much" is a song by the Beatles which first appeared on the 1969 Yellow Submarine film soundtrack album. It was written and sung by George Harrison. It was originally recorded in 1967, shortly before the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and had been slated to appear on the next release, Magical Mystery Tour, but it was pushed back.

Composition, lyrics and musical structure[edit]

The song remains firmly in the key of G major, with a simple melody emphasis on scale notes 2 (A) and 7 (F#) and no restless key and harmonic movement.[3] Such movement characterises many of Harrison's other spiritually oriented Beatles songs such as "Long, Long, Long" [4] and "The Inner Light".[5] There may be a connection between this musical constancy of the tonic and the song's lyrics such as "It's all too much for me to see, a love that's shining all around here. The more I am, the less I know, and what I do is all too much" and Pollack states that the refrain appears to utilize IV (C major) ii minor (Am) chords but insists "there is no root chord change anywhere in this section; that it all boils down to neighbour tone motion in the inner voices superimposed on to the pedal tone of G in the bass." [6] The song contains several lines taken from other works. The line "With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue" was lifted from the McCoys' "Sorrow",[2] and at one point the trumpets seem to emulate Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March".

Recording[edit]

The song was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, 129 Kingsway,[7] making it one of only a very few tracks by the Beatles that were not recorded at EMI Studios. Harrison and John Lennon played both lead and rhythm guitars on the song. Other than their earlier hit "I Feel Fine", this was the only other Beatles' track to use feedback extensively. Harrison also played organ. The track had the working title of "Too Much". Clocking in at nearly six and one half minutes, it is the longest Harrison-penned song recorded by the group and sung by Harrison as lead vocalist.

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per The Beatles Bible[8]

Different versions[edit]

A mono mix, over eight minutes long and containing all of the lyrics plus a much longer ending than the eventual released versions, has never been released officially, but has been found on many bootleg recordings.

The best-known version of the song was further edited down to over six minutes long and appears on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album. The version of the song that appeared in the film itself is slightly different and contained a lyric that was cut from the album version: "Nice to have the time to take this opportunity/Time for me to look at you and you to look at me." However, this lyric remains in the eight minute mono mix. Just before this lyric is another refrain not used in either the movie or the soundtrack albums: "It's all too much for me to take/There's plenty more for everybody/The more you give, the more you get/The more it is and it's too much."

In 2009, the mono mix was released on the remastered Past Masters CD called "Mono Masters" for the first time. But it was shortened to the same six minutes just like the ordinary stereo version.

Cover versions[edit]

"It's All Too Much" has been covered by the Grateful Dead (live), Ratdog (live), Yonder Mountain String Band (live), The Church, All About Eve, Steve Hillage, Paul Gilbert, The Violet Burning, Yukihiro Takahashi, The House of Love, Rich Robinson (Black Crowes), Jeremy Morris, Senator Flux, and in a heavily rewritten version by Journey.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pollack 1998.
  2. ^ a b Maginnis 2009.
  3. ^ Alan W. Pollack. 'Notes on It's All too Much' (1998) http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/iatm.html accessed 5 Jan 2012
  4. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p. 302 fn15
  5. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. p. 524. ISBN 978-0-7119-8167-6. 
  6. ^ Alan W Pollack. 'Notes on It's All too Much' (1998) http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/iatm.html accessed 5 Jan 2012
  7. ^ Recording: Untitled, Beatles Bible. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  8. ^ The Beatles Bible & 2009 zz002.

References[edit]