With A Little Help From My Friends (Lennon/McCartney)
In order to create an album with influences from all different kinds of music, John and Paul sat down to write a children’s song for Ringo to sing, much like Yellow Submarine. They both fiddled with guitars and pianos during the process, often breaking into renditions of Can’t Buy Me Love and Tequila. During the process, Hunter Davies looked on to see what it was like when the Beatles wrote a song (he was writing the band’s official biography at the time). The original title was Badfinger Boogie, which later inspired the name for a band signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label, who became Badfinger. The name originated from John having composed the song on piano using his middle finger after hurting his forefinger.
The first line of the song as it was originally written read, “What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you throw ripe tomatoes at me?” Earlier in their career, George made a comment that he liked jellybeans, and afterward it wasn’t uncommon for the band to have jellybeans thrown at them while on stage. Ringo requested that the lyric be changed so that fans would not throw tomatoes at him when performing it live.
Early morning vocal performance
Recording for the song began March 29, 1967, the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. The session came to a close at 5:45 in the morning, and Ringo began up the stairs to head home, but the other Beatles convinced him to complete his lead vocal then and there, standing around the microphone for moral support.
“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” – John Lennon, Playboy, 1980
“It was pretty much co-written, John and I doing a work song for Ringo, a little craft job.” – Paul McCartney
“Paul had the line about ‘a little help from my friends.’ He had some kind of structure for it, and we wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea.” – John Lennon
- Ringo Starr – lead vocal, drums, tambourine
- John Lennon – backing vocal, cowbell, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – backing vocal, piano, bass guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal, rhythm and lead guitars
- George Martin – Hammond organ
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- 1967-1970 (1973)
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends / A Day In The Life (single) (1978)
- Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999)
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition (2017) [2017 stereo mix]
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition (2017) [take 1 and 2]
- Joe Cocker (from With A Little Help From My Friends)