The Beatles

It's All Too Much

Song Review by

The basic tracks for "It's All Too Much" were actually recorded in spring of 1967, just before the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and would not be issued on record until the release of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album in January of 1969. The long psychedelic number was recorded in two back-to-back sessions, their first at the De Lane Music Recording Studios in London.

The song opens with a burst of howling guitar feedback and jubilant, church-like organ. The atmosphere hints at Harrison's fascination with Indian music and Hindu philosophy at the time, having a distinct, Eastern-flavored, droning undercurrent. McCartney pulses his bass around a single note, while Ringo's frequent, languid drum fills are backed by hypnotic handclaps and various chucking percussion instruments. Harrison's vocals are double tracked in recording, effecting a smooth delivery of the song's light vocal melody. The words reflect the idealist optimism of the soon-to-be-labeled "summer of love" and the kind of chemically enhanced mind-expanding euphoria that pervaded the new "hippie" youth culture: "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." The chorus has a inviting, jubilant air, Harrison adding soaring, distortion-saturated guitar notes as he sings, "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." Harrison does manage to cut these overwhelming positive feelings of bliss with a bit of English humor in the song's last verse: "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." The Beatles perhaps get carried away, tacking on an extended jam, vamping on a droning chorus that lasts as long as the entire song preceding it, for some three and a half minutes. Harrison playfully throws in some lyrics from "Sorrow," the 1966 hit by friends the Merseys, as a horn section blares a kind of fanfare. Lennon and McCartney contribute to the chaotic fun, with an incessant backing chant of "too much" that eventually evolves into "tuba!" and "Cuba!"

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Yellow Submarine 1969 Apple Records / Capitol 6:25
Ultra Rare Trax, Vol. 6 1989 2:28
Documents, Vol. 6 1991 Oh Boy 2:26
No Image 1993 Big Music 8:35
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 6:28
Yellow Submarine Songtrack 1999 Capitol / EMI Records / Apple 6:25
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 6:25
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 6:25
Tomorrow Never Knows 2012 Apple / Capitol / EMI 6:26