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Help!

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was used as the title song to Beatles' second movie. The original title to the song and the movie was "Eight Arms To Hold You." The first copies of the single said it was from the movie "Eight Arms to Hold You."
John Lennon has described this time of his life as his "fat Elvis period." In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon said this is one of his favorite Beatles records, because, "I meant it - it's real." The former Beatle added: "The lyric is as good now as it was then. It is no different, and it makes me feel secure to know that I was that aware of myself then. It was just me singing 'Help' and I meant it."

McCartney helped Lennon write the song, but did not realize it was actually Lennon calling for help until years later.
Along with "Yesterday," this is one of two Beatles US #1 hits with just one word in the title.
The Beatles sped up the tempo to make it more commercial, Lennon intended it as a slow song.
In 1985, this became the first Beatles song ever used in a commercial when it was used in an ad for Ford cars. Ford paid $100,000 for it, and the version in the commercial was performed by a sound-alike group.
Deep Purple recorded this on a demo that helped them get a record deal in 1968.
George Harrison played a 12 string guitar on this.
The Help! movie was used by The Monkees to prepare for their TV show. The Beatles showed off their individual personalities in their movies, which The Monkees made sure to emulate. By not presenting all members of the band as identical, it made the Beatles even more popular, as many of their fans picked a favorite.
There are different lyrics on the album and single versions.
The lyrics appears to be addressed to another person, but they could also be seen as being addressed to a mind altering substance. There are lots of clues in the lyrics but the major ones are, "I've changed my mind" and "I've opened up the doors" as in "The Doors Of Perception" which is the title of a book by Aldous Huxley about his mind altering experiences with mescaline. The title is taken from a quote of William Blake's, "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." (thanks, Ed - Perth, Australia)
Originally, the album cover showed The Beatles spelling out the word "Help" using the semaphore system of communicating with flags, which was usually used by ships. The photographer didn't like the pose, so he had them hold the flags in a way that looked good, but didn't spell anything.
Artists who covered this include Bananarama, Count Basie, the Carpenters, Tommy Castro, The Charles River Valley Boys, The Crusaders, The Damned, Howie Day, DC Talk, Deep Purple, Extreme, Jad Fair, John Farnham, Jose Feliciano, The Four Tops, Henry Gross, John's Children, R. Stevie Moore, The Newbeats, Dolly Parton, David Porter, Isaac Scott, Peter Sellers, Michael Stanley, The Tremeloes, Tina Turner, U2 and Caetano Veloso. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
The Beatles
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More songs covered by the Glee cast

Comments (78):

I was shocked when I first heard that John Lennon considered this to be one his and one of the Beatles finest songs. It was not until years later that I finally understood. In 1986, U2 did a slowed down version of "Help" live during the Amnesty International Show (I believe) at the Meadowlands, and it all made sense. It is an incredibly powerful song when done at the slow tempo that John had originally intended. (You can find video of the U2 version online if you search... though the versions I've seen have pretty crappy sound)
- Ken, Philadelphia, PA
The album Help from august 1965 included Yesterday. This song was the beginning of the slow break up of the Beatles. Of the 52 songs 1962-1965 inclusively Help, Lennon was the primary composer of 27 songs and co-composer of 10. McCartney had 11. But nobody knew. When Yesterday was released, George Martin and McCartney did the coup of the century. They made people for many many years believe that McCartney was the Beatles composer.
- Johan, Stockholm, Sweden
Why on earth would Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and U2 cover this song?!?
- Julia, milton, PA
Remember that the only Beatles' songs on U.S. "Help!" LP were the 7 songs from the movie. The British "Help!" LP also had 7 Beatles' songs NOT from the movie.
- Carl, APG, MD
this is a crazy rock song that ''helps'' beatle lovers such as myself have more then a lot of fun!
- morgan, tyler, TX
This song reminds me of right now, that I changed from a kid to a tenn. I use to be very confident, but now I'm losing it and my "independence". So this is the song that I can most relate to the Beatles.......(minus drugs).@Thanks Emmet!
- Cristian, San Jose, CA
Help has great structure,great melody,great guitar work.I can just imagine how it would have sounded the way Lennon intended with a slower beat,but it is fantastic at the tempo thay used in the recording.This song has energy and excitement,certainly one of the best pop rock songs written.Help captures the Beatles right at the peak of their popularity in the middle 60's.
- George, Belleville, NJ
Help is an undrrated song. I think it was around this time that the Beatles sound started to change.Perhaps due to the use of marijuana. Steve fenton from Mo.I agree 100% This is a great album and among the earlier stuff it is the best. . Paul George and Ringo had said that it was around this time they started smoking marijuana frequently. I am not making this up this is what they said.Nor am saying Help! is about drugs.I am however saying that the music they were writing at this point had been influenced by the use of marijuana.The songs they wrote had become more sureal. To those that find this shocking or feel that I am making this up I suggest watching the Beatles anthology documentary.I am adressing these comments to "Beatles fans" that are still in denial about thier drug use and to those who for some reason or another will think less of them if they had done drugs.Some of the best music, books and movies have been written by people that smoked pot or tacken another mind altering drug. I am not advocating the use of drugs I am simply saying that one can listen to music that was written under the influence of drugs and not feel guilt or shame.
- brian, boston, MA
it is also covered by Silverstein
- Shadoe, Redwood City, CA
I saw the movie Help when I was only 8 years old....I remember all the girls screaming when the Beatles would sing a song.....maybe thats why this song remains my fav Beatle song to this day...
- Rick, Belfast, ME
The strumming acoustic 12-string here was most likely John (you can tell his signature strumming style on it because the cadences are much like his rhythm guitar support on "We Can Work It Out" - full of a sense of humor. George plays the electric 6-string (Gretsch Country Gentleman) and he indeed (overdubbed) played the descending arpeggio himself (not some blues player like Boyko claims) - he was a little rough at first (in the new YouTube outtakes of it in the studio) be he eventually nailed it - and it became a piece of cake. I play it like he did, alternating picking each of the 4 notes rather than all down-strokes as the 1st and 4th fingers descend chromatically (on the A and D strings starting from the 7th/5th fret) while the G and B strings remain fixed open ringing each of the 4 times through. Try learning George's solo from "Saw Her Standing There" ... what a trip. Starts out with a tri-tone slide up to two notes which are the exact same two notes that begin Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix years later ... George was deadly on the 12, 6, the slide, and the sit. Paul's pillow-muffled Hofner bass and Ringo's life-affirming untuned drums were always awesome and underpin this song perfectly. Ever notice how you can't tell sometimes if Paul is playing a Hi A or a Lo A ... or a Hi G or a Lo G on many of these recordings ... it's a great illusion that is very hard to recreate in a studio or live ... still working on that - has todo with Ringo's bass drum fullness I think. The tambourine playing is virtuosic. Paul? Ringo? Probably Ringo?
- Jack, Ames, IA
The 1st Beatles song to make a direct reference to drugs was "She's a Woman, recorded in Fall, 1964...using the line "Turns me on when I get lonely"
- Perry, Portsmouth, NH
You can listen to this song millions of times and it won't get old. The movie is amazing too! I watch it daily...haha
- Catresse, Lawrenceville, GA
Hang in there, Emmett. You have to believe it's getting better all the time!
- Jer, Whitehall, PA
i heard The Ramones do an awesome live cover of this! (not live of course, i was born in 1990 lol)
- Nick, Seattle, Albania
this song describes the period of my life i'm going though right now...(minus the drugs)
- Emmett, Canadian, TX
oh, come ON, andy! fine, go ahead, claim works of creative genius like "hey jude" and "strawberry fields forever" or "a day in the life" are about drugs if thats what floats your boat, but please, dont say it about "help!" john said it himself- its the most honest song he ever wrote, it was him asking for help and meaning it. thats it! his personal crisis. anyone can relate to that.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
"when i was a kid i never needed drugs" now i'm insecure on stage without them. i'm glad i have drugs. my ability to be a star without them has "vanished in the haze (of pot smoke?)" i hope they help pick me up. he's "opened up" to needing all kind of drugs to survive. now fast forward to the white album and he's on the dark side of this same admission.
- andy, lake city, FL
wish i could help, frank from NJ, but that was roughly 30 years before i was born. haha.

wonderful song. i think everyone in the world has days where they feel like standing up and screaming this song.
- chloe, st. louis, MO
Hello, I would like to add to Songfacts but I can't without "help" from you. This is for anyone who saw the movie when it first came out in the theaters back in the mid 60's. I remember the Version of Help! (the song) that was in the beginning of the movie was the Single Version (45). To my dismay, when the Movie came out on VHS, they switched the Version of the Help! Song to the Album Version. They did the same thing to the DVD. Is there anyone out there that remembers this as well? The album Version, in sound & some lyrics, is different than the Single Version despite what one of the Commenters here states. Can anyone please Help!?
- Frank, Middlesex, NJ
the Damned covered this song, too.
- Steve, Binghamton, NY
I have this song as ringtone in my mobile phone and i really when i hear it ringing i feel as the beatles call me to help them as the song goes..."Help, i need somebody...."I really love this song and that's why is one of my favorite songs...! It was their first song that i listened to after i discovered the Beatles.This song stimulated my couriosity...John's voice at the beginning is perfect as well as George's guitar...makes me feel as he plays it only for me.
- TIMOKLIA, ATHENS, Greece
Lee Newman also does a cover of this.
- Kelly, Liverpool, United Kingdom
i didnt know that howie day sang this song :D i love this site haha. but i really wonder what it would have sounded like if it was the slow version. i probably would have loved it anyways >.< i just can't imagine it slower haha.
- Kelly, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Actually George did write "It Don't Come Easy" As you all know Ringo and George remained good friends after The fab four split. And Ringo had already had a hit with "You're Sixteen" which is a cover. But the producers and executives from EMI and such wanted Ringo to try an original song because songs that are sung and written by Ringo were taken really well by the audience while he was with the beatles. And Ringo called on George harrison to help with his new song Im pretty sure Ringo did collabarate something but the piece is mostly george including the guitar intro.
- kevin, quebec, Canada
I wonder how the slow version would have sounded...this "fast" version is great, and a typical great Beatle song
- Scott, Kings Park, NY
This is the only Beatles song I can think of in which I like the backing vocals more than the rest of the song.
PS: George Harrison did not write "It Don't Come Easy", Richard Starkey did.
- Forrest, Rochester, MN
What is with you people who think ALL Beatle, namely John's, lyrics are about drugs? Are you high? Opening a door has to do with opportunity, or with being open-minded! John always wrote from his heart, which is why his songs are timeless. People relate. He obviously had something going on when this song was penned, much like "Nowhere Man". Remember that drug induced song? Please check your sources before spouting out nonesensical gibberish. And think before you leap!
- Ricky, Tustin, CA
George Harrison, the guy who wrote "Here Comes the Sun", "Something", "If I Needed Someone", "It Don't Come Easy" and "Badge" couldn't handle the lick in "Help!"? What?!
- Ricky, Tustin, CA
Feedback on the Blues player fill in: I have research this and cannot find any credible sources to back this up. There has been extensive studio session research by different authors, and this was never mentioned. Plus I have all of the studio outtakes on this song, and it is clearly George playing this part. Also YouTube has live footage on a TV show they did, and you can see that George is playing it the same way as in the movie video.
- Matt, Knoxville, TN
The movie HELP! is my favorite movie! Ringo looks so good in that movie. But dosen't he always sept now cos he's old
- Bianca Sanchez, Alburquerque, NM
Although I like some of their earlier songs, "Help" is the song in which the Beatles become the Beatles that I know and love. In other words, this is where the Beatles--mainly because of John--develop emotional depth and weight. This is what allows them to expand their music in other directions. And, ironically enough, it probably is the first song that shows just how different John could be from the rest, although they still worked well together.
- MusicMama, New York, NY
The funny thing about this song was that when it was recorded they were all still pretty young. There early and mid 20s. John and Ringo were 25, Paul was 23, and George was 22.
- Krissy, Boston, MA
There is not much to say but it was a awesome song.
- krissy, Boston, MA
a friend of mine told me that Paul will sometimes play Help! in concert, slow as way to commerate the way Lennon really wanted it. Anybody know if this is true
- Andrew, Indianapolis, IN
On set of the music video that went along with this. There was a huge argument of the main Riff the lead guitar plays(george) that long finger picking segment. Originally George couldn't play it, and John was fighting to bring a blues player in to do it and star in the video. If you ever learn the correct part and watch George's fingers in the Video they are wrong and are coveredred by a blues player
- Peter Boyko, Edmonton, Canada
john farnham did a cover of this (i'm not sure what year-probably the eighties) just the way john wanted it...nice and slow
- james, gosford, Australia
This song is very John, he almost always tells something from his own life is his songs or some reality.
- Bram, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
the movie of this is really funny. so basically, ringo has been given a ring, and if he doesn't get it off, he's going to be SACRIFICED! so the beatles are running around, trying to do their thing, while the other people are trying to KILL RINGO!!!
the song comes into the movie when the beatles are(badly skiing, they keep on falling over)and are singing this song. makes sense though, they DO need help then.
- izzy, buffalo, NY
Ashley, that backmasking clip was fascinating.Thanx. I find that whenever I listen to something backwards it always sounds like they're saying something completely different than when when i play it normally! Perhaps it is this message that makes Chris from Claremont's dog howl. (Y'know, because dogs have such acute hearing and all), or perhaps it's responding to John's subliminal cry for help! Really, though, I find backmasking interesting. I don't really give any of that much merit though. Any time you play anything backwards, it will almost certainly sound like something else. On occasion it will sound like something that has meaning. The turn me on dead man one is my favourite. I just don't understand how the phrase "number nine" backwards can sound like "turn me on, dead man" but it does! Fascinating!
- joe, lethbridge, Canada
I am a HUGE Beatles fan, but actually, Help is not one of my favorite songs by the boys. I always found it somewhat shallow and too commercial compared to the vast majority of their work. However, the movie and the rest of their songs on the album rank right up their in my book. I love the movie even though John once said years later that he hated it and that it was crap!
- Kurt, Hamilton, NJ
George played electric twelve-string guitar on MANY of their early songs. It was a big part of what made their stuff so identifiable, and it really added to their sound.
- Jerry, Portland, OR
It's not cool to say that any of the Beatles albums before Rubber Soul are among their best, but to me the British release of the Help album (as opposed to the American release) ranks right there with the best of the Beatles albums. The song Help and the Beatles' vocals on the song are amazing.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
To everybody who says that Ringo can't drum, the fill right after the first chorus (Right when the song starts) is pretty amazing. I've had quite a few drummers who can't do it.
- Jo-C, Lima, Peru
This is #29 on the Rolling Stone top 500 songs list.
- Andy, Arlington, VA
The entire HELP! album itself is awesome. The Night Before, Another Girl, You're Going To Lose That Girl, Ticket To Ride, etc all kick a$$.
- Mark, Lincoln, NE
Has anyone seen Help! the movie....
If you have not you HAVE TO!
It is so funny! I own the DVD, and it is one of those movies that never gets old and you can watch it over and over. It is worth its weight in gold.
- Kalissa, New York City, NY
I don't know what it is about THIS specific Beatles song, but it is the only Beatles song that makes my dog HOWL!

I don't know if there is a tone in it that I can't hear, but it drives my dog nuts!
- Chris, Claremont, NH
I have heard from a lennon interview that he was going through his fat elvis period. The fame was getting to him, but it wasnt easy to see since he had the other beatles around him. He said that he was yelling help for a kick off.
- lee, clearwater, FL
http://www.reversespeech.com/rev/helpbeat.Mp3
- Ashley Jade, Cleveland, GA
A subliminal message in this song is "now he uses marijuana"
- Ashley Jade, Cleveland, GA
Bananarama and comediennes Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Kathy Burke covered this song for Comic Relief in 1989. It reached Number 3!
- Claire, West Midlands
This song could have been about drugs or a personal crisis if you think about it.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
In the "Help!" Capitol U.S. soundtrack instrumentals, The Beatles introduced a new instrument, the sitar, which was later used by George Harrison in "Norwegian Wood", "Love You Too", "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Within You Without You" and "The Inner Light".
- Rick, San Juan, United States
The whole album is fantastic,very,very clean sounding and top rate production even 40 years later. Its commercial,no denying that, but thats what it was meant to be.

Wasn't In the Tryol left off the CD version? If younger people have missed that instrumental then you need to find HELP! on an album--its great!
- David, Wichita, KS
The "Help!" U.S. soundtrack on Capitol SMAS-2386 had an instrumental "James Bondish" intro just before the title track. It also featured the other instrumentals "From Me To You (Fantasy)", "In The Tyrol", "Another Hard Day's Night", "The Bitter End/You Can't Do That", and "The Chase".
- Rick, San Juan, United States
The "Eight Arms To Hold You" reference appears only on the "Ticket To Ride" Capitol single, released in April 1965. The "Help!" single was released in July 1965, shortly before the film, and by this time the title had been corrected. The "Help!" Capitol 45 single reads on the label: "From the motion picture 'Help!' (a United Artists Release)".
- Rick, San Juan, United States
It was first called 'Eight Arms To Hold You'.
- Jordan, Wimette, IL
It's 'Help!' (It's not just 'Help').
- Jordan, Wimette, IL
I love this song. I like how they all harmonize on this. sounds great.
- Niki, Chicago, IL
I thought it was about Lennon's concern that he was getting fat. Either that or he was flaccid.
- Matt, Boston, MA
I think that it is the best song ever
- Lauren, Hollywood, CA
I think it's about a personal chrisis that drugs were very much a part of-- though it's not directly about drugs.

I think that "Songs that started with a different title" is a bad link. 85% of songs were written with a different title. Drive my car was golden rings, hey jude was hey jules, jealous guy was child of nature... while plenty of songs started with their final title, probably more didn't than did
- Loretta, Liverpool, England
i hate to break it to you, but according to every source I've read, Lennon WAS indeed suffering from drug issues when he wrote HELP. He was consistently dropping acid and "eating cannabis for breakfast" as he said. I'm high right now, and that sounds real tasty... But the "rumor" that Lennon wasn't using drugs during the period in which he wrote HELP is not true. Read his bio.
- T, Mclean, VA
Great song... I love it.
And very interesting. I usually know nothing of songs' meanings, but I'm glad I read these.
- Lauren, Schertz, TX
A great example of how life can get tougher when we stop being kids.
- Daniel, Leeds, England
This is an awesome song, Lennon lives on...
- Shana, Detroit Rock City, Canada
Drugs? Bullsh*t! It was John in a personal crisis. They sped it up so the movie would sell. Not every song ever written in the sixties was about drugs!
- Elliott, Douglassville, PA
It's about their first LSD experience...

Actually their very first drug song.
- Mike, Ames, IA
The Help! album is one of my favourites. I think The Beatles are the best band. I mean look at all the youngsters who still listen to them. Can you picture kids listening to the stuff being produced today, in 30-40 years time. I just wish I was alive in the 60's so I could have seen them live. Also - another point, I'm currently studying Music for A level, and The Beatles are part of the set works (A Day in The Life). That's how good they were.(Makes me laugh - another school are studying 'I Am THe Walrus).
- James, Bransgore, England
The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley was also a big influence on Jim Morrison, and is where he came up with the name, "The Doors"
- Spoony, Manhattan, KS
this song is incredible, i never knew john was actually depressed at the time. any teens here?
- Liliana, Huntley, IL
john's comment about "crying out for help" is actually his subconscious feeling. He made the comment years after the song came out and he FELT that's why he wrote the song. No one knows for sure the true meaning behind this song, or maybe there was no meaning at all.
- Yu, Demarest, PA
The album & single versions have different musical introductions but have the exact same lyrics (and vocals if you really want to be precise)
- don, rapid city, SD
An excellent cover version By John Farnham. Sounds like the way Lennon intended it to be - slow and soulful
- david, Adelaide, United States
Seeing the movie "Help" when I was a child in the theater was nothing short of a magical experiance. I recall being very disapointed that my favorite Beatle Paul was left-handed. How's that for some 6-year-old trauma?
It's interesting, though, that near 40-years later I still listen to the Bealtes and enjoy the "Help" album as much as when I first heard it. Now that's amazing.
- Mike, Kansas City, KS
Remember the Full House episode where Uncle Jesse and Joey Gladstone were stuck in the recording studio in the basement and yelled "help" and Danny Tanner heard them from atop the stairs and opted not to go down there and interrupt their recording of the Beatles' "Help?"
- Adam, Beaver Falls, PA
Howie Day sang this for the I AM SAM soundtrack
- amy, Baton Rouge, LA
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