“When To help! came out in 65, I called for help. Most people think it’s just a fast rock’n’roll song. It’s John Lennon in 1980, describing the song and the anguished word that opens the album of the same name. As pop stars of the mid-1960s, the Beatles were forced to go into movie madness to keep up with the 1964s. A hard day’s Night, and that included a theme song. So Lennon poured out his pain. His life was starting to seem unreal and absurd, he and his group mates existed in a perpetual state of stoned giggles, and he was stressed and busy. I’m saying all of this not to instill sympathy for Lennon, but rather to show how he was starting to fuck with the pop system he wanted. After all, it would be years before pop songs were considered personal. Did anyone in the room next to Lennon have any idea that he had just smuggled the most autobiographical song he had ever written in the end credits of a ridiculous teenage movie? about an Indian cult trying to kill Ringo?
You might think “Help!” Is about a girl, because Beatles songs tended to be about girls at the time. But, nothing in the lyrics indicates this to be true. (“Think for yourself” from Rubber core plays with that assumption as well.) It’s really a cry for help, and beyond that is a song about admitting the need for help, a song about himself. Subtables like these always slip beneath the surface of Lennon’s songs. For example, “You are going to lose this girl” presents a man’s naked pursuit of his best friend’s daughter as an act of selflessness; it was a small step from that to Rubber core‘s “Norwegian Wood” and its hidden history of arson. There is a feeling in these songs of getting away with something. This bravado radiates from every pore of To help! , an album the Beatles made at the height of their ubiquity and close to the peak of their powers.
Lennon was still the group’s most powerful songwriter in 1965 (McCartney would take over the following year, embracing his songwriting) and contributes To help!‘s three best songs: the title track, “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”, and “Ticket to Ride”. While the first two songs showed how far Lennon’s fragrant writing had matured, the second showed how the group was beginning to expand their territoriality. A buzzing, choppy thing that predicts much of the decade’s psychedelic bad trip, “Ticket to Ride,” was their first track to go past three minutes (with a three-minute time lapse). and ten seconds, Not less). It might have been the grass, but they had stay on this chord a little longer; they or they had to drag this drum, fill in two extra bars, and the song is better for that.
It may not sound like a big deal, and maybe the band themselves haven’t given it a thought. However, the limitations of writing pop songs in the early 1960s meant that the three-minute mark was rarely exceeded. Artists like the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Tom Jones have crammed incredible amounts of content into timestamps reserved for ambient interludes on today’s pop albums. No commercial caveat has ever been more beneficial to songwriters, and most of today’s radio hits are rather too long than not. But, the cat was already out of the bag with Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and by the time of Sgt. Pepper in 1967, the economy will cease to be a concern in the work of The Beatles and rock music as a whole.
While earlier albums like Please make me happy were awesome mainly because of the writing, the emotional load on To help! is just as carried by the instrumentation. From a writer’s perspective, “I Need You” is as low as most of George Harrison’s songs of the time, but it’s one of the most touching songs on the album due to the way the guitar plays slightly out of sync as if it were choking. . Likewise, hear how the strings get higher and more hurt with each new verse of “Yesterday”, as well as how the serpentine flute at the end of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” predicts the wonderful things they would do with woods on their psychedelic work (“Fool on the Hill”, “Flying”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”).
But some of the most surprising moments on To help! come from the beloved, neglected and happy Ringo Starr, not just because he sings Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” as if the prospect of staring in a movie was as much of a drag as returning to work on Monday, but because ‘he was beginning to realize just how much the humble drums can bring emotional weight. Hear how he illustrates âHelp! With alarming cymbal crashes, like a rising tone and scream, or how a glorious blossoming of “Ticket to Ride” tambourine signals returns in the verse. Or, how much boredom and annoyance a half-hearted tambourine entails on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”. All of this would lead to the following year, the single “Rain”, one of the only rock songs whose drum fills can tear tears.
Like all Beatles albums, To help! contains moments of delightfully skillful, striking beauty and enormous risk. Yet, it also reminds us of just how unsympathetic the Beatles could be. âAnother Girlâ resonates more for its meanness and meanness than its pop chops. âYou Like Me Too Muchâ is possessive and creepy, and although Lennon seems superficially concerned about the girl’s feelings on âYou’re Gonna Lose That Girl,â it’s obvious he’s just trying to pull her away from her. “friend” and in his arms. Only âYesterdayâ shows some fairness, as Paul admits he âsaid something wrong,â which is a few more evolved jerks than the sentiment expressed on âTell me whyâ from A hard day’s Night (“If there is something I said or did / Tell me what and I will apologize”).
It is also an incoherent album compared to the records which tighten it (Beatles for sale and Rubber core). The first side is vastly superior to the second, which contains fluffy trifles like “It’s Only Love” and “Tell Me What You See” which contribute to the Beatles’ enduring reputation as undermines. These songs have redeeming qualities – a catchy, angular melody on the first and a nice electric piano trill on the second – but are far from great. âI’ve Just Seen a Faceâ is better, but it’s still the group’s least successful country foray. Plus, John’s shouted cover of Larry Williams’ “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” is an obvious attempt to make the lightning strike “Twist and Shout” twice. While this is an animated cut brought to life by Lennon’s unwavering love for rock ‘n’ roll, it was randomly added to the end after the fact.
The Beatles wouldn’t record another cover until 1970. The cult of the standalone rock band was beginning to merge around the Fab Four, who had once inspired bands like the Who, the Kinks and the Stones to put their own work in front and center. As rock absorbed influences from folk and classical music and began to aspire to art status, it was no longer safe to regard The Beatles as a fashionable novelty. It’s not fair to say that To help! was the time when the Beatles started making art since rock ‘n’ roll was never anything else. But it was on this record that The Beatles really started to investigate what they could do. The answer turned out to be a lot.