With a Little Help from My Friends

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"With a Little Help from My Friends" (originally titled "A Little Help from My Friends") is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song was written for and sung by The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears"; it is ranked #304 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed this song for the first time together at the David Lynch Foundation Benefit Concert in the Radio City Music Hall, New York on 4 April 2009.[1]

Contents

Origins

Lennon and McCartney finished writing this song in mid-March 1967[2], written specifically as Starr's track for the album. It was briefly called Bad Finger Boogie (later the inspiration for the band name Badfinger[3]), supposedly because Lennon composed the melody on a piano using his middle finger after having hurt his forefinger; but in his 1980 Playboy interview Lennon said: "This is Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you, but I know it's mine...' is mine."

Lennon and McCartney deliberately wrote a tune with a limited range - except for the last note, which McCartney worked closely with Starr to achieve. Speaking in the Anthology, Starr insisted on changing the first line which originally was "What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?" He changed the lyric so that fans would not throw tomatoes at him should he perform it live. (In the early days, after George Harrison made a passing comment that he liked jelly babies, the group was showered with them at all of their live performances.)[4]

The song's composition is unusually well documented as Hunter Davies was present and described the writing process in the Beatles' official biography.

The song is partly in the form of a conversation, in which the other three Beatles sing a question and Starr answers, for example: "Would you believe in a love at first sight? / Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time."

The band started recording the song the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper album cover (29 March 1967), wrapping up the session at 5:45 in the morning.[5]

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