Help Me Rhonda - The Beach Boys

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"Help Me Rhonda" - The Beach Boys (1965)

Recorded in 1965, "Help Me Rhonda" was the first Beach Boys song featuring guitarist Al Jardine as lead vocal with Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson and Mike Love providing backing vocals, giving the record a recognizable Beach Boys imprint.

Brian Wilson composed the music and Mike Love tailored the lyrics to the melody. Though there is a desperate quality to the lyrics, the word "help" appears 61 times.

The deceptive innuendo in the lyrics are hinted at by a playful teasing piano tune after the first line of the song and guide the track from then on. The tune betrays a Tom-cat quality in the narrator that should serve as a warning to Rhonda.

The story is about a guy who is devastated when the girl he was hoping to marry takes up with someone else. He's now pleading to Rhonda to relieve his pain because she looks good to him.

The first couple of lines appeal to Rhonda as his love interest, but that the heart of the singer is stuck on another is soon revealed. These lines draw a picture of a pain stricken man whose lover left him for another and who has his eye on Rhonda as a rebound to recover his confidence. This image is reinforced by the raw quality of Jardine’s voice and the dreamy guidance of the backing vocals that expresses the longing and hope in the narrator’s heart.

As Rhonda represents a brighter future, it is all the more fitting that the refrain is sung by the plentiful rich voices of the group vocals. The despair in their appeal to Rhonda is offset by the playful a-cappella and down to earth “bop bop bop” sung by Jardin, which is another hint of the mischievous nature of the narrator. The song ends with a recurring “Help me Rhonda, help help me Rhonda”, insistently calling to Rhonda as a siren. If Rhonda knows what is good for her, she’ll ignore the singer’s pleas.

Despite the desperation in the lyrics, it's a very light and up-tempo song.  Daryl Dragon from The Captain & Tennille played organ,  Glen Campbell, guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, and Carol Kaye on bass. Kaye is one of the most prolific and widely heard bass guitarists in history performing  on an estimated 10,000 recording sessions in her 55-year career.



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