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With A Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker

Album: With A Little Help From My FriendsReleased: 1968Charted:
  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song. The Beatles recorded it a year earlier, but never released it as a single. The Beatles were so impressed with Cocker's version of this that they sent him a telegram of congratulations and placed an ad in the music papers praising it.
  • This was recorded in 3/4 time - a waltz. The Beatles original version was in traditional 4/4 time.
  • Jimmy Page played guitar, BJ Wilson from Procol Harum played drums, and a gospel choir sang background on this track.
  • This song has topped the UK charts on three occasions: Cocker's version, then in 1988 Wet Wet Wet hit #1 again on a double A-sided charity single, and in 2004 Sam & Mark from the 2004 UK Pop Idol brought it to the top again.
  • Cocker also covered The Beatles "I'll Cry Instead," "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window," and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."
  • Sesame Street did a parody of this called "With A Little Yelp From My Friends." It was performed by "Moe Cocker," a Cocker Spaniel. This version of the song is about a dog who yelps for help when he can't find his bone or scratch a flea.
  • Cocker sang his devotional version of this song at Woodstock, giving his career a huge boost. The 25-year-old Cocker, wore a tie-dyed T-shirt and was drenched in sweat throughout the performance, securing his reputation as an entertainer who would give his all on stage. This performance appears in the Woodstock documentary. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Joe Cocker is only one of two acts who performed at Woodstock to have had a UK #1 hit. The other was Jimi Hendrix, who had a chart topper with "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)."
  • The Joe Cocker version was the theme song to the TV series The Wonder Years, starring Fred Savage. The show ran six seasons, from 1988-1993. When it was added to Netflix in 2011, it was with a different version of the theme song, as Cocker's version wasn't cleared.

    Securing rights to the theme song and most of the other nearly 300 songs that were used in the show, was a challenge, but in 2014 the series was finally released on DVD, with most of the songs - including the original theme - intact.
  • When Cocker died in 2014 at age 70, Paul McCartney issued this statement regarding his version of this song: "It was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem, and I was forever grateful for him for having done that."
  • Cocker brought this to the Woodstock stage again when he appeared at Woodstock '94.
  • In 2002, Cocker performed this with Phil Collins (on drums) and Queen guitarist Brian May for Party at the Palace, a celebration at Buckingham Palace in honor of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
  • This was used on The Simpsons in the 1994 episode "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" in a scene spoofing The Wonder Years.
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Comments: 27

Creedence Clearwater Revival also performed at Woodstock and had a UK #1 hit with 'Bad Moon Rising'.Stan - Staffordshire, England
I like this version much, much better and I love that Woodstock rendition. It also made me curious as to how it would sound if Bruce Springsteen covered it. Would it be similar?Stella - London, United Kingdom
My very favorite Saturday Night Live performance was Joe singing this song and John Belushi came on stage spoofing Joe with Joe on stage. It was a moment to remember. I used to have a friend, (dead now) that could sing this song exactly like Joe. RIP Johnny!!!Thomas - Somerville, Al
It is said that legendary session singer "Merry Clayton" sang background on this track. (She is also famous for the spine-chilling solo on the Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter" and their version of "Tumblin Dice." She also sang with musicians ranging from Carole King to Tori Amos.S - Deep In The Heart Of Texas, Tx
This may be the only cover of a Beatles' tune that's actually better than the original. I guess Joe wasn't bound, as the Beatles were, by the concept of the album that contained the original. So he was freer to make it more emotional, and to sing it as a piece that stands on its own.Musicmama - New York, Ny
joes a hero! this is an powerful and moving interpretation, i feel like he appriciate his friends much more than in the beatles version which is awesome too...Lucy - Philly, Pa
great song, also agree its better than the original.Shannon - Sioux Falls, Sd
actually Tommy Eyre AND Stevie Winwood (Blind Faith, Traffic) played organ on the album version of the song.Patrick - Nowhere
This song appeared at the beginning of a Simpsons episode.Greg - Oakville, Canada
This is the only Beatles cover I can think of that I like better than the original (sorry JPG&R!)Aleicia - Vancouver
Same here Natasha, Chico, CA and James, Vidalia, GA. I watched that show with my family as a kid (about 4-6). I get all worm and comfortable when I think of the show and hear the song. Total utopia in my head. D@MN don't you wish you could be a kid again.Jon - Oakridge, Or
I still like the beatles version betterCosmo - Norton, Ma
Awesome song, I think this is the best Beatles' cover ever. I like it better than the original one.Andres Anleu - Guatemala, Other
john belushi sang this song while paradoying Joe Cocker's live performances on SNLJim - Saginaw, Mi
Did he perform this on SNL?Julian - Anaheim, Ca
I agree that Cocker's version of the song is almost like a different song, but I think both Cocker's version and the Beatles' version are great. A similar situation exists with Elvis Presley's version of Hound Dog being re-invented from the original and Eric Clapton's two versions of Layla.Steve - Fenton, Mo
John Belushi's manic Cocker is an absolute hoot! The old SNL moments when he does this song and falls all over the stage I just about die laughing.

Glad Wonder Years used this as a theme. Can't wait to get those on DVD.
James - Vidalia, Ga
Joe Cocker's most famous live version of this song can be seen in the movie WOODSTOCK. If you look carefully, he looks kind of weird, and that's because someone in the editing room
(Scorcese???) screwed up and turned his image around. If you watch LET'S GET STONED from Woodstock Diary or The Lost Performances
videos, you will see Joe how he should be.

Also during the Joe Cocker sequence you can have a brief glimpse of John Densmore at the side of the stage.
Barry - New York, Nc
Correction: Tommy Eyre played organ on "With a little help from my friends", but was also influenced by Bach. Fisher played on Cocker's cover of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman."Roundabut1983 - Ithaca, Ny
Mathew Fisher (like drummer BJ Wilson, of Procol Harum) played hammond organ (M102) on this track. He also played the famous organ part on "A Whiter Shade of Pale." He had been fooling around with alot of Bach, hense the nature of both works.Roundabut1983 - Ithaca, Ny
I am not a fan of his other work, but i absolutly love this song. I recently watched Woodstock the movie, and in order to appreciate what he was feelin when he sang this, you have to watch it in the movie. His whole body is into the music. Also, in this version, there are male singers instead of the gospel choir. I think this may be the best Beatle cover.Max - Manalapan, Nj
I don't think it was a Gospel choir singing background, it was a couple of session singers named Sue and Sunny (Yvonne and Heather Wheatman). The (male) members of The Grease Band took their place on the Woodstock version.Steve - Hamilton, Canada
Joe Cocker's voice is so nice and deep, it reminds me of when i was a kid watchin the opening slide show for the Wonder Years...Natasha - Chico, Ca
This was the version used for the theme of the TV show, The Wonder Years...i think.Anonymous - Chicago, Il
Probably one of the best Beatles covers I can think of. I love what Cocker did with this song and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window". Cocker also did a great live version of this at Woodstock.Geoff - Adelaide, Australia
The Beatles allegedly sent Joe Cocker a telegram congratulating him for his interpretation of the tune - surely that is least they could have done. Aside from the lyrics this is a very different and far superior song. Cocker probably could have added his own lyrics and credited it to himself.Dan - Auckland, New Zealand
The arrangement is actually in 12/8 - slow blues -and was the result of a Sunday afternoon messing around on the piano (after a lunchtime pub session) at (I think) Chris Stainton's (bass, vox and keyboards) house in Sheffield. UK. I used to share a house with guys who reckon they were there at the time - well they did have Joe Cockers' record collection with his name scrawled on sleeves so its probably true.Jon Bates - Birmingham, England
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