All the World’s a Birthday Cake

The song ‘It’s All Too Much’ was written by George Harrison and it was used for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.  George wrote this while he was under the influence of LSD and the music has little sense of direction, but it was a tribute to his wife, Pattie.  At the time Harrison wrote this, he was still infatuated by his wife Pattie Boyd (who he had married the previous year) and the love that he felt for her is scattered throughout the song.  George felt a “love that’s shining all around” her, which was too much for him to take.  Patti became the center of rock’s most iconic love triangle when George’s best friend Eric Clapton fell in love with her.  Eric was inspired to write ‘Layla’, but ‘It’s All Too Much’ has to be her greatest hit.  When Patti married Clapton in May 1979, George, Paul, and Ringo jammed at the wedding, playing ‘Get Back’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and John called Clapton to complain he hadn’t been invited.

In the Summer of Love, Yellow Submarine captured the flower power era of peace, love and sent a message that love is all you need.  This was the fourth Beatles movie, coming after A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery TourYellow Submarine was based on a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and it is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’, ‘All You Need Is Love’, and ‘It’s All Too Much’.  Aside from composing and performing the songs, the real Beatles only participated in the closing scene of the film, while their cartoon counterparts were voiced by other actors.

In Yellow Submarine, Old Friend, captain of the titular vessel, recruits The Beatles to travel to Pepperland, an underwater musical paradise that is 80,000 leagues under the sea, where beauty, happiness, and music reign supreme.  The Beatles were needed because the unearthly paradise of Pepperland had been shattered when the Blue Meanies invaded with their army of storm bloopers, apple bonkers, obese bizarre creatures called snapping turtle Turks, and it is now under siege by a horde of boot-wearing Blue Meanies, along with the menacing flying glove in an attempt to stop the music and drain Pepperland of all color and hope.  They meet the little squat Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D., who is dubbed the Nowhere Man and lives in the Sea of Nothing and they take him aboard on the Yellow Submarine on a journey across seven seas to free Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, make peace with the Meanies, and restore music, color, and love to the world.

The song appears during the climax of the film, following Lennon’s defeat of the Chief Blue Meanie’s enforcer, the Flying Glove, through the power of the word “Love”.  In the sequence for ‘It’s All Too Much’, the Beatles vanquish the evil Blue Meanies and celebrate as the colorful beauty of friendship and music have been restored to Pepperland and this track has been described as the song that really sets the mood of the movie.  The film represented the final episode in the Beatles’ psychedelic period, although the band had already returned to making more roots-based music at the start of 1968.

The Beatles hated the idea of their music being turned into a cartoon and when they wrote songs that they thought were not very good, they reserved them for Yellow Submarine.  The song ‘Yellow Submarine’ came in early 1966 as the band was preparing songs for their seventh album Revolver and Paul wrote this song with a little help from Donavan for Ringo to sing.  The Beatles recorded ‘It’s All Too Much’ in May 1967, shortly after completing their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  In 1967, United Artists conceived the idea of making a cartoon film about a Yellow Submarine, and The Beatles still owed them a movie as part of their deal, so it was decided to fulfil the contractual obligation with an animated film.

This song starts out with a short indistinct phrase that is uttered and then it proceeds into a feedback guitar sound which is reminiscence of Jimi Hendrix playing the ‘National Anthem’ at Woodstock, but this was two years earlier.  George said, “I just wanted to write a rock ‘n’ roll song about the whole psychedelic thing of the time.  Because you’d trip out, you see, on all this stuff, and then whoops! you’d just be back having your evening cup of tea!”  This was by far the longest Beatles song until ‘Hey Jude’ was recorded over a year later and a verse was edited out of album version, cutting time from 8 minutes to 6.  The full version appears in film Yellow Submarine.

There is a line in this song that says, “With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue” and that was taken from the song ‘Sorrow’, which was originally recorded by the McCoys, the group that did ‘Hang on Sloopy’, but it was also covered by The Merseys in 1966 and David Bowie in 1973.  The Beatles had horn players on this song, and they recorded something that is known as the motif from Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March, and also as Trumpet Voluntary.  David Mason and three others played trumpets and Paul Harvey played bass clarinet.  David Mason also performed on ‘Penny Lane’, ‘A Day In The Life’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’.

Paul and John just came up with and sang that lyric of ‘your eyes of blue’.  The song ends with a lot of chanting.  In the beginning of this song either John Lennon or George Harrison says something that sounds like, “To Jorma” and many people feel that this is a reference to Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, but I always thought it sounded like he said “To your mother”, but I can’t make any sense out of that.  Harrison stopped using LSD in August 1967 when he discovered that he could get the same effects from Transcendental Meditation.  The song features a Hammond organ, which gives the track a drone-like quality typical of Indian music, electric guitar feedback, and an overdubbed brass section.

To Jorma
It’s all too much
It’s all too much
When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much
Floating down the stream of time, of life to life with me
Makes no difference where you are or where you’d like to be
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around here
All the world’s a birthday cake
So take a piece but not too much
Set me on a silver sun, for I know that I’m free
Show me that I’m everywhere, and get me home for tea
It’s all to 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
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much
It’s too much (ah)
It’s too much
With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue
With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue
You’re too much, ah
We all get too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much
Too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Birthday/Cake/Gift/Party/Surprise.

16 thoughts on “All the World’s a Birthday Cake

  1. I’ve never seen The Yellow Submarie in its entirety. I appreciate learning about this song and wasn’t aware it was about Patti and LSD trips. It’s very mystical sounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This song is so heavy…I love it. Funny their rejects were this good. I’ve watched Yellow Submarine probably 10 times…it was my son’s favorite cartoon growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

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