The Paul McCartney Project

Help!

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Help! (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1965
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Help!” is a song by the Beatles that served as the title song for both the 1965 film and its soundtrack album. It was also released as a single, and was number one for three weeks in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Help!” was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. During an interview with Playboy in 1980, Lennon recounted: “The whole Beatles thing was just beyond comprehension. I was subconsciously crying out for help“.

Composition

The documentary series The Beatles Anthology revealed that Lennon wrote the lyrics of the song to express his stress after the Beatles’ quick rise to success. “I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for ‘Help’,” Lennon told Playboy. Writer Ian MacDonald describes the song as the “first crack in the protective shell” Lennon had built around his emotions during the Beatles’ rise to fame, and an important milestone in his songwriting style.

In the 1970 Rolling Stone “Lennon Remembers” interviews, Lennon said it was one of his favourites among the Beatles songs he wrote, but he wished they had recorded it at a slower tempo. In these interviews, Lennon said he felt that “Help!” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” were his most honest, genuine Beatles songs and not just songs “written to order“. According to Lennon’s cousin and boyhood friend Stanley Parkes, however, “Help!” was written after Lennon “came in from the studio one night. ‘God,’ he said, ‘they’ve changed the title of the film: it’s going to be called ‘Help!’ now. So I’ve had to write a new song with the title called ‘Help!’.

According to McCartney, he was called in “to complete it“, providing the “countermelody” arrangement, on 4 April 1965 at Lennon’s house in Weybridge.

Recording

The Beatles recorded “Help!” in 12 takes on 13 April 1965 using four-track equipment. The first nine takes concentrated on the instrumental backing. The descending lead guitar riff that precedes each verse proved to be difficult, so by take 4 it was decided to postpone it for an overdub. To guide the later overdub by Harrison, Lennon thumped the beat on his acoustic guitar body, which can be heard in the final stereo mix. Lead and backing vocals were recorded twice onto take 9, along with a tambourine. A reduction mix was applied to the two vocal tracks, taking three attempts (takes 10 to 12), freeing up a track for the lead guitar overdub. This was the group’s first use of two 4-track machines for “bouncing”.

The vocals were re-recorded for the film during a session on 24 May 1965 at CTS Studios, a facility specializing in post-synchronisation. In addition to attempting a better vocal performance, the session might have been done to eliminate the tambourine (which had been on the same track as the vocals) since no tambourine appeared in the film sequence. With the new vocals, a mono mix was created at CTS Studios which was used for the film soundtrack. Mixes for record releases were prepared on 18 June. For the mono version, Martin decided to use a mix of the opening chorus of take 12 edited to the remainder of the CTS film mix. Because all instruments were combined on a single track for the CTS session, it could not be used for a stereo mix, so the stereo mix was made from take 12.

New mixes were created for releases of the Help! CD (1987), the Love album (2006), and the Help! DVD (2007).

Releases

Help!” went to number 1 on both the UK and US singles charts in late summer 1965. It was the fourth of six number one singles in a row on the American charts; “I Feel Fine“, “Eight Days a Week“, “Ticket to Ride“, “Help!“, “Yesterday“, and “We Can Work It Out“.

The song appears on the Help! LP, the US Help! soundtrack, 1962–1966, the Imagine: John Lennon soundtrack, 1, Love, and The Capitol Albums, Volume 2. The mono version (with different vocals and no tambourine) was included on the Beatles’ Rarities LP and in The Beatles in Mono collection.

The American soundtrack album included a James Bond-type introduction to the song, followed by a caesura just before the opening lyric. No such introduction appeared on the British soundtrack album, nor was it included in the released single in either country.

Promotional films

The Beatles filmed the title performance for the movie Help! on 22 April 1965. The same footage (without the darts and credits seen in the film sequence) was used as a clip to promote the release of the single. It was shown starting in July 1965 on programmes such as Top of the Pops and Thank Your Lucky Stars. They made another promotional clip of “Help!” on 23 November 1965 for inclusion in the year-end recap special of Top of the Pops. Directed by Joseph McGrath, the black-and-white clip shows the group miming to the song while sitting astride a workbench. Starr holds an umbrella overhead throughout the song, which becomes useful as fake snow falls during the final verse. The November 1965 promo was included in the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1.

Live performances

The Beatles performed “Help!” live on the 1 August 1965 broadcast of Blackpool Night Out, which was included in the Anthology 2 album and shown during The Beatles Anthology documentary. On 14 August, the group recorded a live performance of “Help!” and five other songs for The Ed Sullivan Show, broadcast the following month; the show is available on the DVD The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles.

Help!” was included in the set list for The Beatles’ 1965 US tour. The 15 August performance at Shea Stadium was seen in the 1966 documentary The Beatles at Shea Stadium, although the audio for the song was re-recorded prior to release. The group’s 29 August performance at the Hollywood Bowl was chosen for the 1977 album The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. […]

Paul McCartney, in Many Years From Now, by Barry Miles:

I seem to remember Dick Lester, Brian Epstein, Walter Shenson and ourselves sitting around, maybe Victor Spinetti was there, and thinking, What are we going to call this one? Somehow Help! came out. I didn’t suggest it; John might have suggested it or Dick Lester. It was one of them. John went home and thought about it and got the basis of it, then we had a writing session on it. We sat at his house and wrote it, so he obviously didn’t have that much of it. I would have to credit it to John for original inspiration 70-30. My main contribution is the countermelody to John. […]

Once we’d done our writing session there was nothing left to be done except put the instruments on. That’s what I was there for; to complete it. Had John just been left on his own he might have taken weeks to do it, but just one visit and we would go right in and complete it. So we came down and played the intro, into the verse, descant coming in on the second verse. It was all crafted, it was all there, the final verses and the end. ‘Very nice,’ they said. ‘Like it.’

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 18 Jun 1965. edited.
    UK: Parlophone R5305 single 1965, Parlophone PMC 1255 Help! 1965, Parlophone PMC 7016 Collection of Oldies 1966.
    US: Capitol 5476 single 1965, Capitol SHAL-12060 Rarities 1980.
    CD: EMI single 1989.
  • [b] stereo 18 Jun 1965. edited.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3071 Help! 1965, Parlophone PCS 7016 Collection of Oldies 1966, Apple PCSP 717 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
    US: Capitol SMAS 2386 Help! 1965, Apple SKBO-3403 The Beatles 1962-1966 1973.
  • [b1] mono made from [b] 1965, by Capitol.
    US: Capitol MAS 2386 Help! 1965.
  • [c] stereo 1987. edited.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46439 2 Help! 1987, EMI CDP 7 97036 2 The Beatles 1962-1966 1993.

The mono mix [a] has a different lead vocal from the one on the two stereo mixes [b] [c]. John’s voice is rougher all through the mono vocal. The stereo mixes also have a tambourine during the chorus that is not heard in [a] mono. Two examples of differences in the vocal in verse 1: the mono vocal [a] has “and now these days” while the stereo vocal [b] [c] has “but now these days”; on the line “I’ve changed my mind” the mono vocal has the words evenly while the stereo has them run together. A mnemonic is that “I’ve opened up the doorS” ending S appears in Stereo and “door” in mono.

Lewisohn has commented that these are different mixes of the same recording. Both mono and stereo have double track lead vocals, so it’s likely they do not exist on the same tape at all, but were made by adding vocals to the same basic tracks. Bootlegs of the session tapes, if they are mixed honestly, show that take 9 has 4 tracks of which two have the basic (1) bass and drums and (2) guitars. The stereo mix derives from adding two vocal tracks, one of which also has tambourine, and then mixing that down and adding a guitar dub in take 12. For the mono mix, take 12 was copied over with the guitar dub but no vocals, losing the tambourine in the process, and then two new vocal tracks were added. (Much of this is from Luke Pacholski.) This supposes there is a take not recorded by Lewisohn, but clearly there is some gap in the written record here.

The original film print of Help! has a mono mix made April 18 using the same vocal as the June 18 mono mix, and with no tambourine. It has a different intro, however, not as clear as the one used on all mixes on disk. The intro on [a] therefore appears to belong to the “stereo vocal” take. In fact [a] may have a mono reduction of [b] edited to it as the intro; the mono and stereo mixes were made the same day. But then why the different vocal track all the way on [b]? Error, or avoiding an edit on the “less important” stereo mix?

On the Capitol albums MAS 2386 and SMAS 2386, and on (US) Apple SKBO-3403, the song is preceded by a short instrumental version of the James Bond Theme, or something similar to it, which is banded as if part of the song but separated by a pause. This is not part of the song and not the Beatles.

Last updated on March 16, 2016

Lyrics

Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone
Help!

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I've never done before

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?
Help me, help me, ooo

Officially appears on


Help! (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:20 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Help! (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:40 • Studio versionB1 • Mono • Mono made from [B] by Capitol

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Help! (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:39 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Help! / I'm Down

7" Single • Released in 1965

2:21 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Help! (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:20 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Collection of Beatles Oldies (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:18 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Collection of Beatles Oldies (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:18 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 13, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Apr 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1965
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl

Official live • Released in 1977

2:46 • LiveL1

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Mastering, Remix engineer
Voyle Gilmore:
Producer
Wally Traugott:
Mastering

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Aug 29, 1965

Session Mixing:
January 1977
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK


All My Trials

CD Single • Released in 1990

0:00 • LiveL2

Paul McCartney:
Producer
Peter Henderson:
Mixing

Concert From the concert in Liverpool, United Kingdom on Jun 28, 1990


Anthology 2

Official album • Released in 1996

2:55 • LiveL3

Concert From "Blackpool Night Out" in Blackpool, United Kingdom on Aug 01, 1965


Bootlegs


Take It Off!

Unofficial album

3:22 • Outtake • Takes 1-3


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 2

Unofficial album

2:56 • Alternate take • Take 4


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 2

Unofficial album

2:26 • Alternate take • Take 4


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 2

Unofficial album

2:13 • Alternate take • Take 4


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 2

Unofficial album

3:07 • Alternate take • Takes 5-7


Live performances

“Help!” has been played in 49 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Help!” has been played








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