With A Little Help From My Friends - The Beatles
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"With A Little Help From My Friends" - The Beatles (1967)
McCartney had the idea to cast Ringo as “Billy Shears” in the alter-band that was the album’s original platform. “With A Little Help From My Friends” serves both as a tribute to Ringo’s affable style and a sly admission that the drummer was often in need of his “friends” in the band. This, his archetypal song, contributed to Ringo’s public persona as what has been called: “history’s most charming bit player.”
George Martin remembers Paul kept the style simple, since Ringo was going to sing it and he didn’t want it to be hard for him to perform it. Though Ringo objected to him being the lead singer fearing that he couldn’t reach the high notes at the end, he finally was able to do it under McCartney’s coaching.
Professor Ken Womack writes:
“Direct-injected on his Rickenbacker, Paul’s splendid, melodic bass lines imbue the composition with a heartfelt air, and the lyrics resonate with the charming sincereity of Ringo’s lead vocal, which affords the entire production with a sense of earnestness in sharp contrast with the ironic distance of the title track. The fills on the bass are not only melodic, but an essential part of the song.”
The track’s larger message is about the necessity of community: John, Paul and George’s call-and-response backing vocals interrogate Ringo about the essence of true love and unerring friendship. It’s message cements the tie not only between band and audience, but among all of us: taking care of each other is in everybody’s interest.
The song is the very essence of “peer togetherness.” Friends can help you to achieve higher things. They can stop you from going into depression and can shatter away the feelings of being lonely. The singer needs some love desperately but he is still happy because he has got true friends (his three band-mates).
The elevation of Ringo - commonly perceived as the lonely outsider, the non-intellectual of the group, who….“gets by with a little help from his friends” - to a position of band leader, is central to the imagery and ideology of Sgt. Pepper.
The composition makes it absolutely clear that, in the world favored by The Beatles, all of us have the ability to be magically transformed into whomever and whatever we may choose, whenever and wherever we may desire.
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