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"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 US and UK. "Help!" was written primarily by John Lennon, but credited (as were all Beatles songs written by either person) to Lennon/McCartney. Paul McCartney reports that he had a hand in writing the song as well, being called in "to complete it" in a two-hour joint writing session on 4 April 1965 at Lennon's house in Weybridgemarker. He later said that the title was "out of desperation".


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 fragile 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 that because of its honesty 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 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!'."


The Beatles recorded "Help!" in 12 takes on 13 April 1965, in Abbey Road's Studio Two. They used four-track equipment and, when the four tracks proved insufficient, resorted for the first time to "bouncing", conducted twice to allow eight recorded tracks.

The first eight takes were without vocals: the first three included George playing his descending guitar figure until, when takes kept breaking down, he admitted it was 'too fast' to play. Taking advice from George Martin it was decided to overdub the riff later, recording the sound of John's tapped acoustic guitar in the rhythm track take. By Take 12 the song was complete with overdubbed group vocals, tambourine and George's guitar fills.


"Help!" went to #1 on both the UK and American 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 record was equalled by The Bee Gees in the 1970s and surpassed by Mariah Carey in the 1990s. "Help!" marked a compositional turning point for the group, Lennon being the more dominant hit-single writer with five #1s culminating in "Help!", while McCartney afterwards produced eight #1s beginning with Yesterday.

The song appears on the Help! LP, the USA Help! soundtrack, 1962-1966 (the American version begins with a James Bond-style instrumental), the Imagine soundtrack, 1, Love, and The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2. The single and album versions of the song have slight differences: the original mono version, appearing on The Beatles' Rarities LP as well as on mono versions of the original LP release, has a different lead vocal by Lennon and no tambourine.


Cover versions

Cultural references

  • 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 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.



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