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"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Song by The Beatles

from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Released 1 June 1967
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
29-30 March 1967
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:44
Label Parlophone PMC 7027 (mono), PCS 7027 (stereo)
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"/"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Single by The Beatles
from the album
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
B-side "A Day in the Life"
Released 30 September 1978
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
February–March 1967
Length 4:46
Label Parlophone R6022
Producer George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"Ob La Di, Ob La Da"
(1976)
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" /"With a Little Help from My Friends/ "A Day in the Life"
(1978)
"Beatles Movie Medley"
(1982)

"With a Little Help from My Friends" (originally titled "A Little Help from My Friends") is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song was written for and sung by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears"; it is ranked #304 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed this song for the first time together at the David Lynch Benefit Concert in the Radio City Music Hall, New York in April 2009.[citation needed]

Contents

Origins

Lennon and McCartney finished writing this song in mid-March 1967[1], written specifically as Starr's track for the album. It was briefly called Bad Finger Boogie (later the inspiration for the band name Badfinger[2]), supposedly because Lennon composed the melody on a piano using his middle finger after having hurt his forefinger; but in his 1980 Playboy interview Lennon said: "This is Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you, but I know it's mine...' is mine."

Lennon and McCartney deliberately wrote a tune with a limited range - except for the last note, which McCartney worked closely with Starr to achieve. Speaking in the Anthology, Starr insisted on changing the first line which originally was "What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?" He changed the lyric so that fans would not throw tomatoes at him should he perform it live. (In the early days, after George Harrison made a passing comment that he liked jelly babies, the group was showered with them at all of their live performances.)[3]

The song's composition is unusually well documented as Hunter Davies was present and described the writing process in the Beatles' official biography.

The song is largely in the form of a conversation, in which the other three Beatles sing a question and Starr answers, for example: "Would you believe in a love at first sight? / Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time."

The band started recording the song the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper album cover (29 March 1967), wrapping up the session at 5:45 in the morning.[4]

Personnel

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[5]

Cover versions

There are numerous interpretations of the song and it has achieved the number one position on the British singles charts three times; by Joe Cocker in 1968, Wet Wet Wet in 1988 and by Sam and Mark in 2004.

"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Single by Joe Cocker
from the album With a Little Help from My Friends
Released October 1968 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 1968
Genre Rock/Blues
Length 5:11
Label Regal Zonophone
Joe Cocker singles chronology
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
(1968)
"Delta Lady"
(1969)

Joe Cocker version

Joe Cocker's version was a radical re-arrangement of the original, in a slower, 6/8 meter, in a different key, using different chords in the middle eight, and a lengthy instrumental introduction (featuring drums by Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson, guitar lines from Jimmy Page, and organ by Tommy Eyre). It was used as the opening theme song of the American television series The Wonder Years and is one of Cocker's most famous songs. Cocker performed the song at Woodstock in 1969 and that performance was included in the documentary film, "3 Days of Peace and Music". His cover was ranked number two in UpVenue's top 10 best music covers of all time in 2009.[6] The version heard in the film Across the Universe segues from the original to Cocker's arrangement at the end of the song.[citation needed] Cocker also made a slight change to the lyrics. In the original version of the song, it begins "What would you think if I sang out of tune", while Cocker's version begins with "What would you do if I sang out of tune". Cocker's version of the lyric is the one most often used in later versions of the song, including later times in which Ringo Starr himself would perform it.[7]

Wet Wet Wet version

"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Single by Wet Wet Wet
Released 9 May 1988 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 1988
Genre Pop
Label PolyGram
Wet Wet Wet singles chronology
"Temptation"
(1988)
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
(1988)
"Sweet Surrender"
(1989)

Wet Wet Wet's version was released on 9 May 1988. The proceeds from sales of the single, which spent four weeks at Number One in the UK chart, were around £600,000, all of which was donated to ChildLine, the UK-based charity for abused children. Billy Bragg's performance of "She's Leaving Home" was the joint A-side. Vocalist Marti Pellow recorded his own version of the song for inclusion on his 2002 album Marti Pellow Sings the Hits of Wet Wet Wet & Smile.

Other versions

  • Barbra Streisand recorded the song, with a Michel Legrand arrangement, for her 1969 album, What About Today?.
  • In 1976, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra recorded the song for the musical documentary film All This and World War II.
  • A recording of Ike & Tina Turner's live version of the song appeared on their The World of Ike & Tina live album in 1973. The song was a regular feature of their repertoire at this time and was performed in concert and on television.[8]
  • In 1985, Kick Axe released a version of the Joe Cocker arrangement, featuring an ensemble of then-current Canadian Rock artists, including Rik Emmett, Lee Aaron, and Alfie Zappacosta.
  • In 1993, Toto released a cover version of it on Absolutely Live.
  • Bon Jovi use the song for the opening of MTV special called Keep the Faith: An Evening with Bon Jovi. The show took place at the Kaufman's Studios Astoria Queens NYC in 1992.
  • In 2007, Razorlight covered the song for It Was 40 Years Ago Today, a television film with contemporary acts recording the album's songs using the same studio, technicians and recording techniques as the original.
  • In 2007, Les Fradkin released a guitar instrumental version on his CD Pepper Front To Back. It drew from the Joe Cocker arrangement but put a more aggressive styled lead guitar out front.
  • The song is included on the Cheap Trick album Sgt. Pepper Live, released in 2009.
  • Actors Joe Anderson and Jim Sturgess sang the song in the 2007 musical film Across the Universe.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper performed the song with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and local Ottawa band Herringbone[9] on 3 October 2009 at a fundraising benefit at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.[10]
  • The Easy Star All-Stars covered the song on their reggae album Easy Stars Lonely Hearts Dub Band in 2009.
  • The Rutles' song "Rendezvous" is based on this song.
  • Sham 69 did a cover of the song as a b-side for "Questions and Answers".
  • Thunder covered the song (using an arrangement similar to the Joe Cocker version) and this version appears on the "Low Life in High Places" CD single.
  • Janice, lead guitarist of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem performs the song as part of a human sacrifice sketch in The Muppet Show episode 419.
  • Richie Havens did a "hummin" version at Woodstock 1969.
  • The song is featured in the 1990 film Riff-Raff, performed by the main female character.
  • The Band O.A.R. frequently started covering this song during their 2008 and 2009 Summer Tours, including historic Madison Square Garden, where the band performed it with Robert Randolph and Matt Nathanson.
  • The song is featured in the 1980 film The Lathe of Heaven, and a selection of the melody in a minor key appears as well towards the end of the film.
  • In 2001, Polish band Kult covered the song on their album Salon Recreativo, with vocals by their drummer, Tomasz Goehs, who have never sang anything in the band before.

Cultural references

"With a Little Help from My Friends" was played as wake-up music on Space Shuttle Mission STS-61.[11]

Notes

References

External links

Preceded by
"Those Were the Days" by Mary Hopkin
UK number one single
6 November 1968 - 13 November 1968 (Joe Cocker version)
Succeeded by
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro & His Orchestra
Preceded by
"Perfect" by Fairground Attraction
UK number one single
15 May 1988 - 12 June 1988 (Wet Wet Wet version)
Succeeded by
"Doctorin' the Tardis" by The Timelords
Preceded by
"Take Me To The Clouds Above" by LMC vs U2
UK number one single
15 February 2004 - 21 February 2004 (Sam and Mark version)
Succeeded by
"Who's David?" by Busted

Simple English

"With a Little Help from My Friends"
Song by The Beatles

from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Released 1 June 1967
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
29–30 March 1967
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:44
Label Parlophone PMC 7027 (mono), PCS 7027 (stereo)
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing


"With a Little Help from My Friends" (originally titled "A Little Help from My Friends") is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song was written for and sung by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears"; it is ranked #304 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed this song for the first time together at the David Lynch Foundation Benefit Concert in the Radio City Music Hall, New York on 4 April 2009.[1]

Contents

Origins

Lennon and McCartney finished writing this song in mid-March 1967[2], written as Starr's song for the album. It was briefly called Bad Finger Boogie (later the inspiration for the band name Badfinger[3]), because Lennon composed the melody on a piano using his middle finger after having hurt his forefinger; but in his 1980 Playboy interview Lennon said: "This is Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you, but I know it's mine...' is mine."

Lennon and McCartney wrote a tune with a limited range - except for the last note, which McCartney worked closely with Starr to achieve. Speaking in the Anthology, Starr insisted on changing the first line which originally was "What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?" He changed the lyric so that fans would not throw tomatoes at him should he perform it live. (In the early days, after George Harrison made a comment that he liked jelly babies, fans would throw them at the Beatles at all of their live shows.)[4]

The song is in the form of a conversation. The other three Beatles sing a question and Starr answers, for example: "Would you believe in a love at first sight? / Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time."

The band started recording the song the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper album cover (29 March 1967), ending the session at 5:45 in the morning.[5]

Personnel

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[6]

Cultural references

"With a Little Help from My Friends" was played as wake-up music on Space Shuttle Mission STS-61.[7]

Notes

  1. "Paul McCartney and Friends: Change Begins Within". Radio City Music Hall. New York, NY: Madison Square Garden. http://www.radiocity.com/events/change-begins-within-409.html. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  2. Dowlding 1989, p. 165.
  3. Matovina 2000.
  4. The Beatles 2000, p. 242.
  5. Lewisohn 1988, p. 106.
  6. MacDonald 2005, p. 246.
  7. Fries 2009.

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