- Album This song officially appears on the We Love You / Dandelion 7" Single.
This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions
Jul 19, 1967
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“We Love You” is a song by the English rock band the Rolling Stones that was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was first released as a single on 18 August 1967, with “Dandelion” as the B-side. The song peaked at number eight in Britain and number 50 in the United States, where “Dandelion” was promoted as the A-side and peaked at number 14. The recording features a Mellotron part played by Brian Jones and backing vocals by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles.
The single’s two tracks were the final Stones recordings receiving a production credit for band manager Andrew Loog Oldham. The recording session represented Oldham’s last work with the band before resigning as their producer.
Written in the aftermath of the drugs arrests faced by Jagger and Keith Richards at the Redlands country home of the latter in Sussex that year, “We Love You” opens with the sounds of entry into jail, and a cell door clanging shut. The draconian nature of the sentences handed down to the two Stones relative to the charges prompted a stern editorial in The Times on 1 July 1967, titled “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”, in protest.
The song’s lyrics appear to be “a spoof” of the Lennon–McCartney song “All You Need Is Love“, which the Beatles performed on the Our World satellite broadcast on 25 June. Alternatively, as Lennon insisted was the case, in his famous 1970 Rolling Stone interview, the lyrics can be seen as echoing the message of the Beatles song, on which Jagger and Richards were among the many chorus singers. On close examination, “We Love You” espouses a strong anti-establishment stance, proclaiming “we don’t care if you hound we and lock the doors around we” and “you will never win we, your uniforms don’t fit we.”
Recording and composition
The Stones recorded “We Love You” during the sessions for Their Satanic Majesties Request at Olympic Studios during July 1967. The song is a droning, Moroccan-influenced anthem of defiance. Outwardly, it was a message from the band to their fans, expressing appreciation for support in the wake of their recent drug busts, yet it was also a slap in the faces of the police harassing them and the Stones’ true feelings about this (as is represented by Jones’ surreal Mellotron playing). “We Love You” is a psychedelic collage of jail sounds, Nicky Hopkins’ foreboding piano riff, and otherworldly tape-delayed vocal effects, featuring a visiting John Lennon and Paul McCartney on high harmonies. Studio engineer George Chkiantz said that even though there was a delay between hitting the note and the sound coming out of the Mellotron, Jones managed to get “a tight rhythmic punch” for the track.
Mick Jagger was quoted at the time as saying that “We Love You” was “just a bit of fun”. The original single releases had a faded-in coda consisting of a short, distorted section of vocals from the B-side, “Dandelion”. The same effect, fading in a portion of “We Love You”, was used at the beginning of “Dandelion”. Musicologist Walter Everett identifies this feature as a response to the Beatles’ use of a fade-out/fade-in ending to close their February 1967 single “Strawberry Fields Forever“.
The promotional film for the single was directed by Peter Whitehead. It included footage from recording sessions along with segments that re-enacted the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde, with Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull respectively portraying Wilde, Marquess of Queensberry, and Lord Alfred Douglas. Footage also appears of Brian Jones, apparently high on drugs with his eyes drooping and unfocused.
The producer of Top of the Pops refused to show the film on that programme. A BBC spokesman stated the producer did not think it was suitable for the type of audience who watches Top of the Pops. He went on to say there was not a ban on it by the BBC, it was simply this producer’s decision.
Among contemporary reviews of the single, Chris Welch of Melody Maker described the song as “considerably too much”, and said that “The Stones and their highly recognisable friends chant the message while what sounds like mellotron, piano, drums and cymbals move to a monstrous, majestic climax like a soul Ravel.” In the NME, Keith Altham identified “Dandelion” as the more “immediate” of the two sides. He described “We Love You” as “a musical-mindjammer with everything going like the clappers … to provide that special kind of ugly-excitement in sound which is the Rolling Stones speciality”, and he concluded: “The basic idea of the song is as simple as ‘All You Need Is Love’ but the musical holocaust surrounding it is so cleverly produced you will be able to listen to it again and again and still find new ideas.”
In the June 1997 issue of Mojo magazine, Jon Savage included the song in his list “Psychedelia: The 100 Greatest Classics”. He also wrote: “‘We Love You’ sounded fabulous on the radio in high summer of ’67 with its monster piano riff and Mellotron arabesques hanging in the air. It was only later that you noticed the heavy walking of the prison warden at the song’s start or the sarcastic hostility of the lyrics.” Author Stephen Davis describes the track as “sensational” and cites Jones’ “panoramic Mellotron fanfare” as arguably his “last great contribution” to the Rolling Stones.
In the view of sociomusicologist Simon Frith, writing in 1981, the song was symptomatic of the band’s disorientation in the year that “pop” transformed to “rock”. He said that the Stones’ elevation to “hippie heroes”, due to the drug busts, had an adverse effect on their music, since: “for a moment, Jagger and Richards’ detached, selfish rock’n’roll commitment was shaken – ‘We Love You’ and the Satanic Majesties LP were too-obvious attempts to follow the Beatles’ psychedelic trip. It wasn’t until 1968, when youth politics got rougher, that the Stones made ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and became a rock group, translating drug culture back into rock’n’roll terms.” Author and critic Philip Norman dismissed “We Love You” as “a single that loses all ironic point in its feeble attempt” to copy “All You Need Is Love”, adding that it was part of Jagger’s ongoing “obsession” with aligning himself with the Beatles’ flower power idealism and trying to match the mystical quality of the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Writing for Mojo in 2002, music critic John Harris said in response to Norman’s comments on the song: “Fortunately, nothing could be further from the facts. Its charms are legion: Nicky Hopkins’ beautifully mesmeric piano, its opening chorus of sarcastic falsetto voices, mellotron passages … whose eeriness cannot help but evoke the idea of a conspiracy.”
The single was included on the UK version of Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) (1969), but was not on the US version (although the B-side “Dandelion” is present on both versions), and does not appear on the current CD version of that album. It was released, however, on some subsequent compilations: More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) (1972), Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones (1975), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), the Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), and GRRR! (50-track and 80-track editions) (2012). […]
From udiscovermusic.com, July 19, 2021:
The albeit fleeting incarceration of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards after their drug convictions of 1967 was one of the biggest stories of what became known — ironically, in their case — as the Summer of Love.
This extraordinary entry in the history of the Rolling Stones was soon illustrated by the band’s own memorable single inspired by the affair, “We Love You.” At a nighttime recording session at Olympic Studios on July 19 that year, backing vocals and percussion for the upcoming Decca release were laid down by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The gesture by the two Beatles was a show of solidarity for their friends and a measure of the outrage felt about Jagger and Richards’ imprisonment. Even as the case was ongoing, an earlier such gesture had been made by The Who, when they recorded swiftly-convened covers of “The Last Time” and “Under My Thumb.” […]
Officially appears on
7" Single • Released in 1967
4:38 • Studio version
- Paul McCartney :
- Backing vocals, Handclaps
- John Lennon :
- Backing vocals, Handclaps
- Nicky Hopkins :
- Brian Jones :
- Mick Jagger :
- Handclaps, Vocals
- Keith Richards :
- Backing vocals, Electric guitars
- Bill Wyman :
- Bass guitar
- Charlie Watts :
- Andrew Loog Oldham :
- Recording :
- June–July 1967
- Studio :
- Olympic Sound Studios, London
- Session Recording:
- Jul 19, 1967
- Studio :
- Olympic Sound Studios, London
Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.