Album: Help! (1965)
Charted: 1 1
Play Video
  • On the Help! album cover, the Beatles are really spelling out N-U-J-V, but aside from a few sea captains, nobody knows that. They're using semaphore, a system for signaling with flags.

    You can see why they didn't spell out H-E-L-P - there is a huge gap between the H and the E, which no visual artist would stand for. The solution: have them hold the flags in an aesthetically pleasing manner, no matter what it spells.

    Flags: Denelson83, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Comments: 85

  • Al from NysWhere does the (rarely played) intro come from?
  • Trebor from TexasJohan-I know you fancy yourself as a music historian so will you please share with us how many Beatles songs were primarily composed by John and primarily composed by Paul after 1965? And of those songs, which ones were number one hits? Thank you.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 11th 1965, the Beatles' second movie, "Help!"*, opened in select theaters in New York City...
    And exactly one year earlier on August 11th, 1964 their first movie, "A Hard Day's Night**" had its U.S. premiere in New York City...
    * "Help!" had its world premiere on July 29th, 1965 in London, England...
    ** And "A Hard Day’s Night" had its world premiere on July 6th, 1964 in London, England.
  • Curtis Anderman from Oklahoma City UsaThe story goes that John Lennon read a review by a music critic (who liked his songs) who noted John's lyrics never contained words longer than two syllables. Realizing this was true, John purposely included some four syllable words. Like: "anybody's", "appreciate", "independence". This is a point where John really begins to show his skill as a composer.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAugust 27th, 1965: THE LEGENDS MEET!!!
    The Beatles visit Elvis at his Bel Air home in LA; the meeting started at around 10 PM and lasted for about four hours, no photos/videos were taken...
    At the time the Beatles' "Help!" was at #2 on the Billboard Hot Top 100 chart and Elvis was at #83 with "I'm Yours"...
    Exactly two years later to the day {August 27th, 1967} Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, passed away at the age of 32...
    R.I.P. to The King, John, George, & Mr. Epstein.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 15th 1965, the Beatles performed in concert at Shea Stadium in New York City...
    They sang a thirteen song set, which included five #1s; "I Feel Fine", "Ticket to Ride", "Can't Buy Me Love", "A Hard Day's Night", and "Help!"...
    New York City was the first stop of their fifteen concert-ten city tour...
    At the time "Help!" was at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, the day before it was at #14 {see next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 14th 1965, the Beatles performed "Help!" at Studio 50 in New York City; the performance was taped and aired on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' on September 12th, 1965...
    At the time of the taping the song was at #14 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; three weeks later on August 29th it would peak at #1 {for 3 weeks} and was at #1 the day of 'Sullivan' show broadcast...
    R.I.P. John, George, and Mr. Sullivan {1901 - 1974}.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaI 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)
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenThe 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.
  • Julia from Milton, PaWhy on earth would Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and U2 cover this song?!?
  • Carl from Apg, MdRemember 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.
  • Morgan from Tyler, Txthis is a crazy rock song that 'helps' beatle lovers such as myself have more then a lot of fun!
  • Cristian from San Jose, CaThis 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!
  • George from Belleville, NjHelp 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.
  • Brian from Boston, MaHelp 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.
  • Shadoe from Redwood City, Cait is also covered by Silverstein
  • Rick from Belfast, MeI 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...
  • Jack from Ames, IaThe 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?
  • Perry from Portsmouth, NhThe 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"
  • Catresse from Lawrenceville, GaYou can listen to this song millions of times and it won't get old. The movie is amazing too! I watch it daily...haha
  • Jer from Whitehall, PaHang in there, Emmett. You have to believe it's getting better all the time!
  • Nick from Seattle, Albaniai heard The Ramones do an awesome live cover of this! (not live of course, i was born in 1990 lol)
  • Emmett from Canadian, Txthis song describes the period of my life i'm going though right now...(minus the drugs)
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mooh, 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.
  • Andy from Lake City, Fl"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.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mowish 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.
  • Frank from Middlesex, NjHello, 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!?
  • Steve from Binghamton, Nythe Damned covered this song, too.
  • Timoklia from Athens, GreeceI 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.
  • Kelly from Liverpool, United KingdomLee Newman also does a cover of this.
  • Kelly from Liverpool, United Kingdomi 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.
  • Kevin from Quebec, CanadaActually 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.
  • Scott from Kings Park, NyI wonder how the slow version would have sounded...this "fast" version is great, and a typical great Beatle song
  • Forrest from Rochester, MnThis 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.
  • Ricky from Tustin, CaWhat 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 from Tustin, CaGeorge 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?!
  • Matt from Knoxville, TnFeedback 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.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmThe movie HELP! is my favorite movie! Ringo looks so good in that movie. But dosen't he always sept now cos he's old
  • Musicmama from New York, NyAlthough 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.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaThe 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 from Boston, MaThere is not much to say but it was a awesome song.
  • Andrew from Indianapolis, Ina 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
  • Peter Boyko from Edmonton, CanadaOn 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
  • James from Gosford, Australiajohn farnham did a cover of this (i'm not sure what year-probably the eighties) just the way john wanted it...nice and slow
  • Bram from Zoetermeer, NetherlandsThis song is very John, he almost always tells something from his own life is his songs or some reality.
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nythe 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.
  • Joe from Lethbridge, CanadaAshley, 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!
  • Kurt from Hamilton, NjI 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!
  • Jerry from Portland, OrGeorge 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.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoIt'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.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruTo 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.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaThis is #29 on the Rolling Stone top 500 songs list.
  • Mark from Lincoln, NeThe 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$$.
  • Kalissa from New York City, NyHas 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.
  • Chris from Claremont, NhI 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!

  • Lee from Clearwater, FlI 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.
  • Ashley Jade from Cleveland, Ga
  • Ashley Jade from Cleveland, GaA subliminal message in this song is "now he uses marijuana"
  • Claire from West MidlandsBananarama and comediennes Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Kathy Burke covered this song for Comic Relief in 1989. It reached Number 3!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThis song could have been about drugs or a personal crisis if you think about it.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesIn 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".
  • David from Wichita, KsThe 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!
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesThe "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 from San Juan, United StatesThe "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)".
  • Jordan from Wimette, IlIt was first called 'Eight Arms To Hold You'.
  • Jordan from Wimette, IlIt's 'Help!' (It's not just 'Help').
  • Niki from Chicago, IlI love this song. I like how they all harmonize on this. sounds great.
  • Matt from Boston, MaI thought it was about Lennon's concern that he was getting fat. Either that or he was flaccid.
  • Lauren from Hollywood, CaI think that it is the best song ever
  • Loretta from Liverpool, EnglandI 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
  • T from Mclean, Vai 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.
  • Lauren from Schertz, TxGreat song... I love it.
    And very interesting. I usually know nothing of songs' meanings, but I'm glad I read these.
  • Daniel from Leeds, EnglandA great example of how life can get tougher when we stop being kids.
  • Shana from Detroit Rock City, CanadaThis is an awesome song, Lennon lives on...
  • Elliott from Douglassville, PaDrugs? 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!
  • Mike from Ames, IaIt's about their first LSD experience...

    Actually their very first drug song.
  • James from Bransgore, EnglandThe 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).
  • Spoony from Manhattan, KsThe 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"
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ilthis song is incredible, i never knew john was actually depressed at the time. any teens here?
  • Yu from Demarest, Pajohn'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.
  • Don from Rapid City, SdThe album & single versions have different musical introductions but have the exact same lyrics (and vocals if you really want to be precise)
  • David from Adelaide, United StatesAn excellent cover version By John Farnham. Sounds like the way Lennon intended it to be - slow and soulful
  • Mike from Kansas City, KsSeeing 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.
  • Adam from Beaver Falls, PaRemember 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?"
  • Amy from Baton Rouge, LaHowie Day sang this for the I AM SAM soundtrack
see more comments

Editor's Picks

90s Music Quiz 1

90s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

First question: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson appeared in videos for what artist?

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A Timeline

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A TimelineSong Writing

Untangling the events that led to the "Stairway To Heaven" lawsuit.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The Remasters

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The RemastersSong Writing

Brian has unearthed outtakes by Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello and hundreds of other artists for reissues. Here's how he does it.