Story of the Song: With a Little Help from my Friends by The Beatles

From The Independent’s archive: Robert Webb on ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ by The Beatles

Friday 13 August 2021 21:30
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<p>The Fab Four celebrate the completion of their new album ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967</p>

The Fab Four celebrate the completion of their new album ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967

The “Ringo track” was a necessary fan-pleasing component of Beatles’ albums. For Sgt Pepper, Paul McCartney and John Lennon gave their drummer a grown-up children’s song to get his flat vowels around. McCartney claims “With a Little Help From My Friends” started life at Lennon’s house in Weybridge, under the working title “Bad Finger Boogie”. One writing session, however, was witnessed by the band’s biographer, Hunter Davies, at Macca’s London home.

“Whenever they got stuck, they would go back and do a rock’n’roll song or an Engelbert Humperdinck song and just bugger around,” Davies wrote. Lennon contributed the line “What do I see when I turn out the light?” and, as it was 1967, McCartney managed a drug reference, “I get high, with a little help”.

Ringo learnt his lines in the studio, refusing to sing just one couplet, “What would you do if I sang out of tune? / Would you stand up and throw a tomato at me?” McCartney sensibly gave it an on-spot rewrite, to “Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

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