Saturday, June 05, 2010

Let It Be

Let It Be is a 1970 documentary film about The Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for the album Let It Be in January 1969. The film features an unannounced rooftop concert by the group, their last performance in public. Released just after the album, it was the final original Beatles release.

The film was originally planned as a television documentary which would accompany a concert broadcast. When plans for a broadcast were dropped, the project became a feature film. Although the film does not dwell on the dissension within the group at the time, it provides some glimpses into the dynamics that would lead to The Beatles' breakup.

The film has not been officially available since the 1980s, although original and bootleg copies of home video releases still circulate. A planned DVD release of the remastered film was placed on hold indefinitely, as the film and its outtakes "raised a lot of old issues."


The film observes The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) from a "fly on the wall" perspective, without narration, scene titles, or interviews with the main subjects. The first portion of the film shows the band rehearsing on a sound stage at Twickenham Film Studios. The songs are works in progress, with discussions among themselves about ways to improve them. At one point, McCartney and Harrison have an uncomfortable exchange, with McCartney suggesting that "Two of Us" might sound better without Harrison's guitar riffs, and Harrison responding: "I'll play, you know, whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all if you don't want to me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it." Also appearing are Mal Evans, providing the hammer blows on "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", and Yoko Ono, dancing with Lennon.

The Beatles are then shown individually arriving at Apple headquarters, where they begin the studio recording process with Harrison singing "For You Blue" while Lennon plays slide guitar. Starr and Harrison are shown working on the structure for "Octopus's Garden" and then demonstrating it for George Martin. Billy Preston accompanies the band on impromptu renditions of several rock and roll covers, as well as Lennon's improvised jam "Dig It", while Linda Eastman's daughter Heather plays around the studio. Lennon is shown listening disinterestedly as McCartney expresses his concern about the band's inclination to stay confined to the recording studio. The Beatles conclude their studio work with complete performances of "Two of Us", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Let It Be".

For the final portion of the film, The Beatles and Preston are shown giving an unannounced concert from the studio rooftop. They perform "Get Back", "Don't Let Me Down", "I've Got a Feeling", "One After 909", and "Dig a Pony", intercut with reactions and comments from surprised Londoners gathering on the streets below. The police eventually make their way to the roof and try to bring the show to a close, prompting some ad-libbed lyrical asides from McCartney during the second performance of 'Get Back' he sings: "Get back Loretta"; "you've been out too long Loretta... you've been playing on the roofs again"; "and your mama doesn't like that"; "it makes her angry" "she's gonna have you arrested"; "Get back Loretta". In response to the applause from the people on the rooftop after the final song, McCartney says "Thanks Mo!" (to Ringo's wife Maureen) and Lennon quips "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!"



After the stressful sessions for The Beatles (the "White Album") wrapped up in October 1968, McCartney concluded that the group needed to return to their roots for their next project. The plan was to give a live performance featuring new songs, broadcast as a television special and recorded for release as an album. Unlike their recent albums, their new material would be designed to work well in concert, without the benefit of overdubs or other recording tricks.

Many ideas were floated concerning the location of the concert. Conventional venues such as The Roundhouse in London were discussed, but they also considered more unusual locations such as a disused flour mill and an ocean liner. The location that received the most consideration was a Roman amphitheater in North Africa. None of the ideas garnered unanimous enthusiasm, and with time limited by Starr's upcoming commitment to the film The Magic Christian, it was agreed to start rehearsals without a firm decision on the concert location.

Denis O'Dell, head of Apple's film division, suggested filming the rehearsals in 16 mm for use as a separate "Beatles at Work" television documentary which would supplement the concert broadcast. To facilitate filming, rehearsals would take place at Twickenham Film Studios in London. Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hired as the director, having previously worked with The Beatles on promotional films for "Paperback Writer," "Rain," "Hey Jude," and "Revolution."


The Beatles assembled at Twickenham Film Studios on 2 January 1969, accompanied by the film crew, and began rehearsing. Cameraman Les Parrott recalled: "My brief on the first day was to 'shoot the Beatles.' The sound crew instructions were to roll/record from the moment the first Beatle appeared and to record sound all day until the last one left. We had two cameras and just about did the same thing." The cold and austere conditions at Twickenham, along with nearly constant filming and sessions starting much earlier than the Beatles' preferred schedule, constrained creativity and exacerbated tensions within the group. The sessions were later described by Harrison as "the low of all-time" and by Lennon as "hell ... the most miserable sessions on earth."

The famous exchange between McCartney and Harrison occurred on Monday, 6 January. Around lunchtime on Friday, 10 January tensions came to a head, and Harrison told the others that he was leaving the band. This entire episode is omitted from the film. He later recalled: "I thought, 'I'm quite capable of being happy on my own and I'm not able to be happy in this situation. I'm getting out of here.' So I got my guitar and went home and that afternoon wrote 'Wah-Wah'." Rehearsals and filming continued for a few more sessions; the finished film only used a small amount of footage from this period, namely a boogie-woogie piano duet by McCartney and Starr, although it was included in a way such that Harrison's absence was not apparent.

At a meeting on 15 January, Harrison agreed to return with the conditions that elaborate concert plans be dropped and that work would resume at Apple's new recording studio. At this point, with the concert broadcast idea abandoned, it was decided that the footage being shot would be used to make a feature film. Filming resumed on 21 January at the basement studio inside Apple headquarters on Savile Row in London. Harrison invited keyboardist Preston to the studio to play electric piano and organ. Harrison recalled that when Preston joined them, "straight away there was 100% improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we'd created among ourselves." Filming continued each day for the rest of January.

The Beatles worked on many songs during the sessions that were not used in the film. Some would end up on Abbey Road ("I Want You (She's So Heavy)", "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"). Others were destined for future solo albums by McCartney ("The Back Seat of My Car", "Teddy Boy", "Every Night"), Lennon ("Child of Nature" reworked as "Jealous Guy", "Gimme Some Truth"), and Harrison ("All Things Must Pass", "Isn't It a Pity"). The group also experimented with some of their previous songs ("Love Me Do", "Help!", "Lady Madonna").

Trying to come up with a conclusion for the film, it was suggested that the band play an unannounced lunchtime concert on the roof of the Apple building. On 30 January, The Beatles with Preston played on the rooftop in the cold wind for 42 minutes, about half of which ended up in the film. The Beatles started with a rehearsal of "Get Back", then played the five songs which are shown in the film. After repeating "I've Got a Feeling" and "Don't Let Me Down", takes which were left out of the film, the Beatles are shown in the film closing with another pass at "Get Back" as the police arrive to shut down the show. On the 31st, the last day of filming and recording, the Beatles reconvened in the Apple building's basement studio. They played complete performances of "Two of Us", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Let It Be", which were included in the film as the end of the Apple studio segment, before the closing rooftop segment.


A rough cut of the movie was screened for The Beatles on 20 July 1969. Lindsay-Hogg recalled that the rough cut was about an hour longer than the released version: "There was much more stuff of John and Yoko, and the other three didn't really think that was appropriate because they wanted to make it a 'nicer' movie. They didn't want to have a lot of the dirty laundry, so a lot of it was cut down." After viewing the released version, Lennon said he felt that "the camera work was set up to show Paul and not to show anybody else" and that "the people that cut it, cut it as 'Paul is God' and we're just lyin' around ..."

Lindsay-Hogg omitted any reference to Harrison leaving the sessions and temporarily quitting the group, but managed to keep some of the interpersonal strains in the final cut, including the McCartney/Harrison exchange which he had captured by deliberately placing the cameras where they wouldn't be noticed. He also retained the scene that he described as "the back of Paul's head as he's yammering on, and John looks like he's about to die from boredom."

In early 1970 it was decided to change the planned name of the film and the associated album from Get Back to Let It Be, matching the group's March 1970 single release. The final version of the film was blown-up from full-frame 16 mm to 35 mm film for theatrical release, which increased the film's graininess. To create the wider theatrical aspect ratio, the top and bottom of the frame was cropped, necessitating the repositioning of every single shot for optimum picture composition.


While the album Let It Be contains many of the song titles featured in the film, in most cases they are different performances. The film has additional songs not included on the album.

The following songs are listed in the order of their first appearance, with songwriting credited to Lennon/McCartney except where noted.

* "Paul's Piano Intro"
o based on "Adagio for Strings" (Samuel Barber), and titled "Paul's Piano Piece" on Let It Be... Naked
* "Don't Let Me Down"
* "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
* "Two of Us"
* "I've Got a Feeling"
* "Oh! Darling"
* "One After 909"
* "Jazz Piano Song" (McCartney/Starkey)
* "Across the Universe"
* "Dig a Pony"
* "Suzy Parker" (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey)
* "I Me Mine" (Harrison)
* "For You Blue" (Harrison)
* "Bésame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez/Sunny Skylar)
* "Octopus's Garden" (Starkey)
* "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (Smokey Robinson)
* "The Long and Winding Road"
* "Shake Rattle and Roll" (Jesse Stone, under his working name Charles E. Calhoun)
* "Kansas City" (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)
* "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (Lloyd Price)
* "Dig It"
* "Let It Be"
* "Get Back"

Release and reception

The world premiere of the film was in New York City on 13 May 1970. One week later, UK premieres were held at the Liverpool Gaumont Cinema and the London Pavilion. None of The Beatles attended any of the premieres. The Beatles won an Oscar for Let It Be in the category "Original Song Score," which Quincy Jones accepted on their behalf. The soundtrack also won a Grammy for "Best Original Score."

Initial reviews were generally unfavorable; the British press were especially critical, with The Sunday Telegraph commenting that "it is only incidentally that we glimpse anything about their real characters—the way in which music now seems to be the only unifying force holding them together, and the way Paul McCartney chatters incessantly even when, it seems, none of the others are listening." Time said that "rock scholars and Beatles fans will be enthralled" while others may consider it only a "mildly enjoyable documentary newsreel."

Later reviews were more favorable, although rarely glowing, as the historical significance of the film's content factored into critics' assessments. Leonard Maltin rated the film as 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "uneven" and "draggy", but "rescued" by The Beatles' music. The TLA Video & DVD Guide, also rating it as 3 out of 4 stars, described the film as a "fascinating look at the final days of the world's most famous rock group, punctuated by The Beatles' great songs and the legendary 'rooftop' concert sequence. [... It] is important viewing for all music fans." Rotten Tomatoes reported that 75% of twelve critics' reviews were positive; user reviews were 86% positive.

Lindsay-Hogg told Entertainment Weekly in 2003 that reception to Let It Be within the Beatles camp was "mixed"; he believes McCartney and Lennon both liked the film, while Harrison disliked it due to the fact that "it represented a time in his life when he was unhappy… It was a time when he very much was trying to get out from under the thumb of Lennon/McCartney."

Home media

The film was released on VHS video, RCA SelectaVision videodisc, and laserdisc in the early 1980s, but became out of print within a few years. The transfer to video was not considered high quality; in particular, the already-cropped theatrical version was again cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio for television. The lack of availability has prompted considerable bootlegging of the film, first on VHS and later on DVD, derived from copies of the early 1980s releases.

The movie was remastered from the original 16 mm film negative by Apple in 1992, with a few of those scenes used in The Beatles Anthology documentary. After additional remastering, a DVD release was planned to accompany the 2003 release of Let It Be… Naked, including a second DVD of bonus material, but it never materialized. In February 2007, Apple Corps' Neil Aspinall said, "The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realized: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues."

An anonymous industry source told the Daily Express in July 2008 that, according to Apple insiders, McCartney and Starr blocked the release of the film on DVD. The two were concerned about the effect on the band's "global brand ... if the public sees the darker side of the story. Neither Paul nor Ringo would feel comfortable publicizing a film showing The Beatles getting on each other's nerves ... There’s all sorts of extra footage showing more squabbles but it’s unlikely it will ever see the light of day in Paul and Ringo’s lifetime.”


Friday, June 04, 2010

The Big Beat Scene

by Royston Ellis

The Big Beat Scene “a forgotten classic of rock literature” which Royston Ellis wrote in 1960 and which has been out of print since 1961, is being republished with new material (including his relationship with the Beatles) in June 2010.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

"Helter Skelter"

"Helter Skelter" is a song written by Paul McCartney, credited to Lennon/McCartney, and recorded by The Beatles on The Beatles. A product of McCartney's deliberate effort to create a sound as loud and dirty as possible, the clangorous piece has been noted for both its "proto-metal roar" and "unique textures." It was one of several White Album compositions interpreted by Charles Manson as coded prophecies of a war to arise from racial tensions between blacks and whites.


McCartney was inspired to write the song after reading a 1967 Guitar Player magazine interview with The Who's Pete Townshend where he described their latest single, "I Can See for Miles," as the loudest, rawest, dirtiest song The Who had ever recorded. McCartney then "wrote 'Helter Skelter' to be the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, et cetera" and said he was "using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom—the rise and fall of the Roman Empire—and this was the fall, the demise." In British English, the term helter-skelter not only has its meanings of "confused" or "confusedly" but is the name of a spiraling amusement park slide. McCartney has used this song as a response to critics who accuse him of only writing ballads.

On 20 November 1968, two days before the release of The Beatles, McCartney gave Radio Luxembourg an exclusive interview, in which he commented on several of the album’s songs. Speaking of "Helter Skelter," he said the following:
Umm, that came about just 'cuz I'd read a review of a record which said, "and this group really got us wild, there's echo on everything, they're screaming their heads off." And I just remember thinking, "Oh, it'd be great to do one. Pity they've done it. Must be great — really screaming record." And then I heard their record and it was quite straight, and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn't rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, "Oh well, we'll do one like that, then." And I had this song called "Helter Skelter," which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, 'cuz I like noise.


The Beatles recorded the song multiple times during the The White Album sessions. During the 18 July 1968 sessions, a version of the song lasting 27 minutes and 11 seconds was recorded, although this version is rather slow and hypnotic, differing greatly from the volume and rawness of the album version. Another recording from the same day was edited down to 4:37 for Anthology 3, which was originally twelve minutes long. On 9 September, eighteen takes of approximately five minutes each were recorded, and the last one is featured on the original LP. After the eighteenth take, Ringo Starr flung his sticks across the studio and screamed, "I've got blisters on my fingers!" The Beatles included Starr's shout on the stereo mix of the song (available on CD); the song completely fades out around 3:40, then gradually fades back in, fades back out partially, and quickly fades back in with three cymbal crashes and Ringo's scream (some sources erroneously credit the "blisters" line to Lennon; in fact, Lennon can be heard asking "How's that?" before the outburst). The mono version (on LP only) ends on the first fadeout without Ringo's outburst. The mono version was not initially available in the US as mono albums had already been phased out there. The mono version was later released in the American version of the Rarities album.

According to Chris Thomas, who was present, the 18 July session was especially spirited. "While Paul was doing his vocal, George Harrison had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head, doing an Arthur Brown." Starr's recollection is less detailed, but agrees in spirit: "'Helter Skelter' was a track we did in total madness and hysterics in the studio. Sometimes you just had to shake out the jams."


* Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass, lead guitar
* John Lennon – background vocals, rhythm guitar, and sound effects (through brass instruments)
* George Harrison – lead guitar, sound effects, and background vocals
* Ringo Starr – drums
* Mal Evans – saxophone and sound effects (through brass instruments)

Critical reaction

The song has been covered by a number of bands (see below) and praised by critics, including Richie Unterberger of Allmusic. Unterberger called it "one of [the] fiercest and most brutal rockers done by anyone" and "extraordinary." Ian MacDonald was critical, calling it "ridiculous, McCartney shrieking weedily against a massively tape-echoed backdrop of out-of-tune thrashing."

In a 1980 interview, Lennon said, "That's Paul completely ... It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me."

In March 2005, Q magazine ranked "Helter Skelter" number 5 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Charles Manson

Charles Manson told his followers that White Album songs including "Helter Skelter" were the Beatles' coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be maneuvered into virtually exterminating each other over treatment of blacks. Upon the war's conclusion, after Black Muslims would kill off the few whites they would know to have survived, Manson and his companions, having ridden out the conflict in an underground city, would emerge from hiding and, as the actual remaining whites, rule blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running things. Manson employed Helter Skelter as the term for this epic sequence of events. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led the prosecution of Manson and the killers who acted on Manson's instruction, named his best-selling book about the murders Helter Skelter. The book was the basis for two films of the same title.

Cover versions

* In 1975, Aerosmith recorded a cover of "Helter Skelter," but it was not released until 1991, on the Pandora's Box compilation.
* In 1978, Siouxsie & the Banshees included a cover of this song on The Scream.
* In 1980, Dianne Heatherington included a significant rearrangement of the song on her Epic album, "Heatherington Rocks"; the song was also released as a single.
* In 1981, Pat Benatar released a cover of "Helter Skelter" as the final track on Precious Time.
* In 1982, Ian Gillan released a cover of "Helter Skelter" on Magic.
* In 1983, Mötley Crüe recorded their version of this song on their Shout at the Devil album. (It also appeared on their 2006 live album Carnival Of Sins.)
* In 1983, The Bobs released an a cappella version on their eponymous album. It earned them a 1984 Grammy nomination for best new arrangement of an existing song.
* In 1988, U2 released a cover version of "Helter Skelter" as opening track on their Rattle and Hum album.
* In 1989, Vow Wow recorded "Helter Skelter" and named their album after the song.
* In 1997, Dimension Zero included a cover of the song on Penetrations from the Lost World.
* In 2007, the Stereophonics release a cover of the song as a bonus-track on the Japanese release of Pull the Pin.
* Dana Fuchs performs the song in Across the Universe.
* In 2008, Autolux released a cover of the song as a B-side on their single "Audience No. 2."

Live cover performances

* In 1986, Hüsker Dü covered "Helter Skelter" live and issued it on their "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" EP.
* In 1987, U2 recorded the song in concert for their Rattle and Hum movie and album which was released the following year. Bono's introduction to the song was, "This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles. We're stealing it back." Also noteworthy of this cover is that Bono reworked McCartney's original line "You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer" and sung it as (in a kind of double-negative) "you ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer" (this occurs throughout the performance so one assumes that, while he was "stealing it back," Bono's reworking of the lyric was intentional and not simply a live error).
* In 1989 The French rock band Noir Desir covered the song in Élysée Montmartre
* On 31 October 1994, Phish covered the song as part of their "Musical Costume" performance of (almost) the entire White Album. This version contained heavy discords; it concluded with the line "I've got Blisters on my Fingers" sung in four-part harmony. This concert was released as Live Phish Volume 13.
* On 20 November 1996, Urban Dance Squad finished their show in Belgrade with a thundering crossover version of the song, which subsequently appeared on their live album Beograd live.
* In 1996, Pat Benatar released a live version on her "Pat Benatar: Heartbreaker: Sixteen Classic Performances" Album
* In 2000, Oasis covered "Helter Skelter" live, this performance is included on their live album Familiar to Millions.
* In 2008, Thrice covered "Helter Skelter" on their fall tour with Rise Against, Alkaline Trio and The Gaslight Anthem.
* On April 24, 2009, Rooney covered "Helter Skelter" during an encore performance at the annual Muirstock music festival at the University of California, San Diego.

Sampling & References

* From 1990 to 1994, Marilyn Manson used vocal samples of a Charles Manson interview and lifted McCartney's lines "Do you, don't you want me to love you, I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you, tell me, tell me, tell me, come on tell me the answer", and "You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer" on various live and studio versions of their song "My Monkey", along with other various Beatles samples. The partial cover of Helter Skelter was played on their Smells Like Children tour in 1995.

* Skinny Puppy used some of the same Charles Manson vocal samples (tell me, tell me, tell me the answer", and "You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer") as well as the opening riff from the Beatles song in Worlock.

* In the Family Guy episode To Love and Die in Dixie, after playing banjo, Stewie Griffin shouts out Ringo's famous 'I've got blisters on my fingers!'

* In the Jim Carrey film Yes Man, The Main caracter stops a man from commiting suicide by playing a song on his guitar and quickly pulling him in, then shouting "I've got blisters on my fingers!"'

Album: The Beatles
Released: 22 November 1968
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 9 September 1968
Genre: Hard Rock
Length: 4:30 (Stereo LP), 3:38 (Mono LP)
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Paul McCartney on George Martin and the Critics of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

"The time we got offended, I'll tell you, was one of the reviews, I think about Sgt. Pepper -- one of the reviews said, 'This is George Martin's finest album.' We got shook. I mean, we don't mind him helping us, it's great, it's a great help, but it's not his album, folks, you know. And there got to be a little bitterness over that. A bit of help, but Christ, if he's going to get all the credit . . . for the whole album. . . ."

Pattie Boyd's "Letter from London"


What with all this search for a new home and Mary Bee's flat being so small and all, I've had to part with my dear kitten "Wee-Wee." But don't grieve for him, Cathie Crone of Wilmette, Ill., (I love the names of all your cats), Gisele Gauthier of Scarborough, Can., (I'm thrilled you've called your gold-beige kitten "Pattie") and Melissa Smith of Binghampton, N.Y.--for "Wee-Wee" has struck it rich. Who do you think he lives with now? In the country with John and Cyn Lennon!

When I told you in the May issue that I didn't know whether to cut my hair, or not be in the new fashion of short locks, I never dreamed you would all be so horrified. Although about half of the models are now wearing their styles fairly short, I've decided to keep my hair long. It covers my rather round cheeks so well! So all you girls, like Melinda Anne Wisner of Gary, Ind., Marianne Heckel of Louisville, Ky., (and dozens of others) will, I'm sure, be glad to know that my hair stays long, and if I have to wear it short for special jobs, then I shall get one of those beautiful wigs that are in fashion.

Hair seems to be the main topic of my mail this month. I can't answer all your queries, but at least I can tell Joy Murabito of Lewes, Del., that I think you need to try a special shampoo. Don't worry about the split ends of your hair, Nancy Domagalski of Chicago, Ill., but have it trimmed regularly and professionally. Brown hair like yours, Rosemary Kildon of Rockford, Ill., can look as beautiful as any other color if it is well groomed. Some of the top models here have just that color. Nothing but hair care and patience will make your hair grow long. Debby Williams of Dayton, Ohio. Mine took a year to get just right. Keep your lovely waves, Jill Richard of Berkeley, Calif. They will soon be the envy of your friends, for waves and curls are very much "in" at the moment. I shall very soon write a special letter to you all on how I do my hair and perhaps show some pix in 16 Magazine that will help some of you.

I am most interested in the letters I have had from would-be dress designers. It is one of the most fab careers for girls. The sketches you sent to me, Barbara Fuller of Elmhurst, N.Y. are really great and you show talen in design and choice of color. To study fashion designing, Denyse Nadeau of Millbury, Mass., I think you should go to Art School for at least two years. But I don't recommend that you come to England to start your career. You would find it takes a barrel of money to live here, and the competition is fierce even for the British girls.

Patricia Harris of Fitchburg, Mass., wants to know if I ever buy any of the clothes I model. Yes, but only very rarely, because they are usually too expensive or not in my favorite color (which at the moment is white). Modeling seems to be the career most of you want to take up when you leave school. I think I have already written a lot about this in 16 Magazine, but you are still asking for more. Thank you, Mary Alice Delahousse of Norfolk, Va., for your interesting letter. We all know that French girls have a precious "dress sense," so I am sure you will be a success as a model. When you come to England with your family in 1967, you will be able to make a choice among the many schools for yourself.

There is doubtless a great attraction about modeling because so many of you, from 12 to 16, are already asking what the qualifications are. My advice to Jackie Click of Vidor, Tex., and Debbie Delven of Quincy, Ill., is that you wait until you are 17 and then, if you still want to model, go to a modeling school.

I'd just love to model for American magazines, Eileen English of Center Moriches, N.Y., but so far I've worked only for the British or French. My great thrill just now is that I shall be on the cover of British Vogue very shortly. Answering your other question, I always do my hair and make-up myself.

When to start using make-up is always a tricky question. I must say I agree with your mom, Debbie Carolla, of Belleville, N.J., that 14 is a bit too young. I didn't use make-up until I was 17, chiefly because it didn't suit me (and I think one's skin, like the rest of the body, isn't fully developed). And don't worry about your weight. You will be fatter and thinner again by the time you are 18!

Yours is the first letter I have ever had from a Chinese girl, Sandra Lee of San Francisco, Calif. I certainly wish you luck and assure you that nationality has nothing to do with modeling. In fact, one of Dior's top models in Paris is Chinese.

It would take the whole of this letter to answer all your questions, Jan Crichton of Portland, Ore. Yes, I'm small-boned. Yes, we go surfing in Cornwall, but our sea is not as warm as yours. I never discuss George Harrison or the Beatles with anyone. This wonderful group likes to keep their private lives to themselves, and one would not be their friend for long if confidences were not respected. I'm sure you will understand this.

It is very flattering to be asked if you may start a fan club for me, Jo Anne Sowinski of Scranton, Pa., but I am afraid I must refuse. Scores of you have written me with the same idea from all over the States, and I just couldn't accept them all and wouldn't have time to correspond properly with you, nor could I begin to afford all the photographs you would need. So please let me bow out with my most grateful thanks and good wishes to you all.

Every mail beings me the sweetest invitations to visit the U.S. I have also had invitations to stay in your homes with you from almost every state. In fact, to accept them all would mean living in America for months! I'd just love to see your French Quarter, Cathy Brown of New Orleans, La., and thank you and your mom for inviting me to beautiful Maryland, Maureen Dougherty of Baldwin. Beverly Addis of Bellsville, Ohio, your instructions on how to find your home are so clear I could almost walk in at your door! Once again, thank you all and I shall keep on hoping to cross the Atlantic one of these days.

Monday, May 31, 2010


"Help!" is a song by The Beatles that served as the title song for both the album Help! and the film Help!. It was also released as a single, and was #1 for three weeks in both the USA and UK. "Help!" was written primarily by John Lennon, but credited (as all Beatles song written by either person) to Lennon/McCartney. Paul McCartney reports that he had a hand in writing the song as well, being called in "to complete it" in a two-hour joint writing session on 4 April 1965 at Lennon's house in Weybridge. He later said that the title was "out of desperation." In 2004, "Help!" was ranked number 29 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


As revealed in the miniseries The Beatles Anthology, Lennon wrote the lyrics of the song to express his stress coming from the quick rise to a massive level of success for The Beatles after years of obscurity. The rest of the band felt somehow surprised learning this, but they considered it normal. Since Lennon's feelings of insecurity were incongruous with the band's image of confidence, Lennon felt it was nearly impossible for the fans to understand the origin of the song. "I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for 'Help'," Lennon told Playboy. Writer Ian MacDonald describes the song as the "first crack in the protective shell" Lennon had built around his fragile emotions during the Beatles' rise to fame, and an important milestone in his songwriting style.

In the 1970 Rolling Stone "Lennon Remembers" interviews, Lennon said that because of its honesty it was one of his favourites among the Beatles songs he wrote, but he wished they had recorded it at a slower tempo. In these interviews, Lennon said he felt that "Help!" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" were his most genuine Beatles songs and not just songs written to order. However, according to Lennon's cousin and boyhood friend Stanley Parkes, the song was written after Lennon "came in from the studio one night[.] "God", he said[,] "they've changed the title of the film - it's going to be called 'Help!' now. So I've had to write a new song with the title called 'Help!'."


The Beatles recorded Help! in 12 takes on 13 April 1965, in Abbey Road's Studio Two. The first eight takes were without vocals. Onto the final attempt the group overdubbed vocals, tambourine and the guitar fills at the end of each chorus, the latter played by George Harrison.


The single and album versions of the song have slight differences. The American version begins with a James Bond-style instrumental.

The song appears on the Help! LP, the USA Help! soundtrack, 1962-1966, the Imagine soundtrack, 1, Love, and The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2. The single mono version appeared on the Beatles' Rarities LP, as well as on mono versions of the original LP release, and includes a slightly different lead vocal recording by Lennon.


* John Lennon: double-tracked lead vocal and acoustic guitar.
* Paul McCartney: bass and background vocals.
* George Harrison: lead guitar and background vocals.
* Ringo Starr: drums.

Cover versions

* The Rutles' song "Ouch!" is a tongue-in-cheek parody of this song.
* In 1968, Deep Purple recorded a cover version (greatly slowed-down) of the song on their album Shades of Deep Purple. Consistent with Lennon's other remarks about the song, he said that this version was 'the way the Beatles should have done it.'
* In 1970, The Carpenters recorded a cover version for release on their album Close to You. It was not released as a single.
* In 1975, Caetano Veloso released a cover on his album Joia.
* In 1976, Henry Gross covered it for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II. John Lennon once stated that this was his favourite version of the song. George and Paul do backing vocals.
* In 1976, The Damned covered the song for the B-side of New Rose.
* Dolly Parton included a bluegrass version of Help! on her 1979 Great Balls of Fire album.
* In 1980, Australian vocalist John Farnham released the song as a piano-based ballad recorded at a much slower tempo.
* In 1985, Ford Motor Company reportedly paid $100,000 for the use of the song in commercials promoting their Lincoln-Mercury product line. This was the first time a Beatles song was used for a national commercial campaign.
* In early 1984, Tina Turner released a version of the song recorded with The Crusaders as the follow-up to her successful cover of Al Green's Let's Stay Together. Help! peaked at #40 in the UK but went relatively unnoticed elsewhere. The following single What's Love Got to Do with It became her big comeback and Let's Stay Together and What's Love Got to Do With It were later both included on her multi-platinum-selling album Private Dancer - her ballad version of Help! was, however, only included on the European editions of the album.
* U2 played it often during their 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope Tour and 1987 Joshua Tree Tour at a slower tempo.
* In 1989, the song was recorded by British girl group Bananarama alongside French & Saunders and Kathy Burke and released as the official Red Nose Day single to raise money for Comic Relief. French, Saunders and Burke were credited as Lananeeneenoonoo (a paraody of Bananarama who they had imitated in the French & Saunders television programme). This version reached #3 in the UK charts.
* Richard Marx performed the song at a concert near the Berlin Wall in 1989. He performed Help! similarly to the way John Farnham recorded the song in 1980. Marx never recorded it.
* Noel Gallagher performed the song at certain Oasis concerts at a slower tempo.
* Paul McCartney also slowed it down a bit when he played it during his 1990 concert tour as part of a tribute to Lennon.
* Kylie Minogue performed her band's arrangement of the song in May 1990 before a crowd of 25,000 as part of John Lennon: The Tribute Concert on the banks of the River Mersey in Liverpool.
* "Help!" has also been covered by Michael Stanley, dc Talk, Alma Cogan, Rick Wakeman, Howie Day, McFly, Roxette and Fountains of Wayne.
* In 1991, the Finnish metal band Waltari covered Help! on their debut album, Monk Punk.
* Chicago punk rock band 88 Fingers Louie recorded a version on their 1995 first full-length release, Behind Bars.
* In 1998 The Punkles did a punk cover of this song on their first album.
* In 1999, British jazz singer Claire Martin recorded a slowed-down cover on her album Take My Heart with Noel Gallagher on guitar.
* In 2000, Tsunku and 7HOUSE covered Help! on their Beatles' cover album, A Hard Day's Night.
* In 2003 Art Paul Schlosser recorded a parody of Help! called Smelt which is on on his Words of Cheese and Other Parrot CD.
* In 2007, rapper Lil Wayne sampled the song's chorus for his new official mix tape entitled The Leak. The song was replaced on The Leak, however, and was instead put on various underground mix tapes.
* French artist Louis Bertignac, previously of Téléphone, covered the song on his 2005-2006 tour, along with another Beatles song, I'm Down.
* The song was covered by Canadian Post-Hardcore band Silverstein on their 2009 album A Shipwreck in the Sand.

Cultural references

* American author Mark Z. Danielewski frequently references this song in his novel House of Leaves.
* The song featured in Cutting it Close, an episode of Full House, when Jesse Katsopolis breaks both of his arms in a motorcycle accident and has to adjust to a life where he always needs assistance.
* The lyrics are quoted in the film Yellow Submarine; when Young Fred knocks on the Beatles' door, he says "Won't you please, please help me?".
* In the Powerpuff Girls episode Meet the Beat-Alls, a military sergeant says "Help, we need somebody, help, not just anybody, help, we need the Powerpuff Girls." The sergeant himself may be a reference to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
* In the Only Fools and Horses episode The Jolly Boys' Outing, Mickey Pearce sings "Won't you please, please help me?" to a sleeping Albert, prompting Albert to tell him to "Get off, you noisy little git!" However, the version playing on the radio as Mickey sings is the Bananarama cover version rather than the original.

B-side: "I'm Down"
Released: 6 August 1965 (UK), 13 August 1965 (US)
Format: 7"
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 13 April 1965
Genre: Folk rock
Length: 2:21 (UK), 2:39 (US)
Label: Parlophone (UK), Capitol Records (US)
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paul McCartney on "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"

"This forms part of a medley of songs which is about fifteen minutes long on Abbey Road. We did it this way because both John and I had a number of songs which were great as they were but which we'd never finished."