|Single by The Beatles|
|from the album Help!|
|Released||19 July 1965 (US)
23 July 1965 (UK)
|Recorded||13 April 1965,
EMI Studios, London
|Label||Parlophone, Capitol Records|
|The Beatles singles chronology|
"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, but 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".
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" in a two-hour joint writing session on 4 April 1965 at Lennon's house in Weybridge,  stating to have helped on the "countermelody".
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.
"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. It was also released on 20 Greatest Hits
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.
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 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.
Use in advertising
In February 1985, "Help!" became the first Beatles song licensed for a US television commercial. The Lincoln–Mercury division of Ford Motor Company paid $100,000 for the rights to the song, but not for the use of the original Beatles' recording. The song was re-created by a sound-alike group with assistance from George Martin. The US Electronics and appliance chain hhgregg is using a cover version of the song in their ad campaign as of 2012.
- John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, twelve-string rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocal
- George Harrison – lead guitar, backing vocal
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||5|
|Canada (RPM Singles Chart)||1|
|Germany (Media Control Charts)||2|
|Ireland (Irish Singles Chart)||1|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||1|
|UK singles (The Official Charts Company)||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
|UK singles (The Official Charts Company)||37|
The song reached number one in several other countries in 1965 according to charts listed in Billboard's "Hits of the World" feature at the time: Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Sweden.
|Single by Tina Turner|
|from the album Private Dancer|
|B-side||"Rock 'n' Roll Widow"|
|Released||25 February 1984|
|Format||7", 12" single|
|Producer(s)||Wilton Felder, Ndugu Chancler, Joe Sample|
|Tina Turner singles chronology|
|Single by Bananarama (with Lananeeneenoonoo)|
|from the album Greatest Hits Collection|
|Format||7" single, 12" single, CD single|
|Producer(s)||Stock Aitken Waterman|
- 1968 – Deep Purple cover version on the 'B' side of their first album Shades of Deep Purple.
- 1970The Carpenters recorded a cover version for their album Close to You. –
- 1970The Muppets sang a cover version of this song on Sesame Street in episode 135. –
- 1975Caetano Veloso released a cover on his album, Joia. –
- 1976Henry Gross covered "Help!" for the musical documentary All This and World War II. John Lennon once stated that this was his favourite version of the song; George Harrison and Paul McCartney are backup vocalists. –
- 1976The Damned covered the song on the B-side of "New Rose". –
- 1979Dolly Parton included a bluegrass version of "Help!" on her Great Balls of Fire album. –
- 1980John Farnham released the song as a piano-based ballad at a much-slower tempo - the first artist to do so. His version peaked at No.–8 on the Australian – Kent Music Report Singles Chart.
- 1982South African rock group Hotline, featuring PJ Powers, released the song as a single. –
- 1984Tina Turner released a ballad version of the song (recorded with The Crusaders) that peaked at #40 in the UK. The song was included on European editions of her album Private Dancer. It was a staple of her live shows for a time, and appears on her double album Tina Live in Europe and the Private Dancer Tour concert film. –
- 12 June 1985Roy Orbison performed a shorter version of the song at much slower tempo for the television documentary Everyman: John Lennon "Journey In The Life". –
- 1989The song was recorded by Bananarama (with French & Saunders and Kathy Burke) and released as the Red Nose Day single to raise money for Comic Relief. French, Saunders and Burke were credited as "Lananeeneenoonoo" (a parody of Bananarama, whom they imitated in the French & Saunders television programme). This version reached #3 in the UK charts, and was featured on the 1989 Christmas episode ("The Jolly Boys Outing") of Only Fools and Horses. –
- May 1990Kylie Minogue performed her band's arrangement of the song before a crowd of 25,000 at the John Lennon: The Tribute concert on the banks of the Mersey in Liverpool. Also was included in her 1991 tour Rhythm Of Love Tour –
- 1991Waltari covered "Help!" on their debut album, Monk Punk. –
- 1995Little Texas recorded a version of the song for the Beatles tribute album Come Together: America Salutes the Beatles. –
- 1995Swedish pop group Roxette recorded an acoustic version during their session at the Abbey Road Studios, where three of their own songs were also re-recorded. It would not be commercially available until 2006, when it was finally released on The Rox Box/Roxette 86-06 box set. –
- 1998The Punkles recorded a punk cover of the song for their first album. –
- 1999Claire Martin recorded a slower version on her album Take My Heart (with Noel Gallagher on guitar). –
- 2000Tsunku covered "Help!" on his Beatles cover album, A Hard Day's Night. –
- 2003Art Paul Schlosser recorded a parody of "Help!" ("Smelt"), which appears on his Words of Cheese and Other Parrot CD. –
- 2004Westlife covered the song on their Turnaround Tour. –
- 2004McFly cover the song on CD 2 of their 2004 single Obviously. The cover also appeared on their 2008 EP – Lost & Found: McFly Uncovered.
- 2006Bebi Dol covered the song on her album, Čovek rado izvan sebe živi. –
- 2010The Trans-Siberian Orchestra began using a slowed-down, rock-ballad version of the song as part of their "Gutter Ballet Medley" in live performances (which also includes the Savatage song "Sleep" (from Edge of Thorns) and a short sample of the "Eleanor Rigby" chorus). –
- 2010 - Vanilla Sky, an Italian punk rock band, covered this song on their "Punk is Dead" cover album.
- 2011Cloud Cult covered "Help!" for the Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 3. –
- 2011Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes covered the song as a bonus track on the Target limited edition of the soundtrack Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: Music from the Motion Picture. –
- 2012American boy band Big Time Rush covered the song (and other Beatles songs) as part of their Big Time Movie and soundtrack. –
- 2013British invasion band Hipsters covered the song as part of their first EP and resulting nationwide tour. –
- 2013Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) and Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) covered the song in Glee's fifth season premiere episode "Love Love Love" and the album Glee Sings the Beatles. –
- Silverstein released a cover version on their fourth album, A Shipwreck in the Sand. "Help!" has also been covered by Michael Stanley, dc Talk, Alma Cogan, Rick Wakeman, Howie Day, Fountains of Wayne, John's Children, Marc Bolan and Peter Sellers. The Rutles' song "Ouch!" is a parody.
- American author Mark Z. Danielewski frequently refers to this song in his novel House of Leaves.
- The song featured in "Cutting It Close", an episode of Full House, when Jesse Katsopolis breaks both of his arms in a motorcycle accident and has to adjust to a life in which he always needs assistance.
- The song was also used in commercials for defunct phone company GTE, during the 1990s.
- The lyrics are quoted in the film Yellow Submarine; when Young Fred knocks on the Beatles' door, he says, "Won't you please, please help me?"
- In the Powerpuff Girls episode "Meet the Beat-Alls", a military sergeant says "Help, we need somebody, help, not just anybody, help, we need the Powerpuff Girls."
- In the Only Fools and Horses episode "The Jolly Boys' Outing", Mickey Pearce sings "Won't you please, please help me?" to a sleeping Albert, prompting Albert to tell him to "Get off, you noisy little git!" The version playing on the radio as Mickey sings is the Bananarama cover version rather than the original.
- Several Major League Baseball teams (notably the New York Yankees) play the song when the opposing manager/pitching coach go out for a mound visit.
- The release year of the song was asked as the final ¥ 5,000,000 question in the fictitious version of Who Wants to be A Millionaire, as depicted in the Mainland China sitcom iPartment.
- Unterberger, Richie. "1960s-Folk-Rock Overview". www.richieunterberger.com. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
- RIAA 2009.
- Spitz 2005, p. 555.
- Lennon.net 2004, p. 5.
- Miles 1998, p. 199.
- MacDonald 2003, p. 153.
- Beatles Interview Database 1984, p. 2.
- Winn 2008, pp. 314-316.
- Help! stereo remaster 2009 inlay card, "Recording notes".
- Winn 2008, p. 320.
- Ryan & Kehew 2006, p. 392.
- Wallgren 1982, pp. 38–45.
- Lewisohn 2000, p. 190.
- Lewisohn 2000, pp. 206-208.
- Winn 2008, pp. 337-338.
- Lewisohn 2000, pp. 198-199.
- Lewisohn 2000, p. 215.
- Winn 2008, p. 354.
- Badman 2009, p. 352.
- Miller 1988, p. 198.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 153.
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- Čovek rado izvan sebe živi at Discogs
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"I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (The Beatles version)
4 September 1965
"Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire
"Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds
|UK number-one single (The Beatles version)
5 August 1965
"I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher