- The Beatles’ “Help!” was written specifically for the film of the same name.
- John Lennon was the primary writer of “Help!” but Paul McCartney said he made changes to it.
- The tune became a hit twice in the United Kingdom.
Many notable people worked together to come up with the title of The Beatles‘ Help!, the Fab Four’s second feature film. Subsequently, Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote a title song for the movie. Paul revealed his contribution to the song.
The Beatles’ ‘Help!’ was inspired by the title of the film, not the other way around
In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul discussed how the title of The Beatles’ film Help! came about. “I seem to remember [director] Dick Lester, [the band’s manager] Brian Epstein, [producer] Walter Shenson, and ourselves sitting around, maybe [actor] Victor Spinetti was there, and thinking, ‘What are we going to call this one?’” Paul recalled. “Somehow Help! came out. I didn’t suggest it; John might have suggested it or Dick Lester. It was one of them.”
Paul revealed how he and John penned the title song for the film. “John went home and thought about it and got the basis of it, then we had a writing session on it,” he remembered. “We sat at his house and wrote it, so he obviously didn’t have that much of it. I would have to credit it to John for original inspiration 70-30. My main contribution is the countermelody to John.”
Paul McCartney contrasted the songs he and John Lennon wrote for The Beatles
Paul analyzed himself as a melody-maker. “If you analyze our songs, John’s are often on one note, whereas mine are often much more melodic,” he said. “I enjoy going places with melodies.
“I like what John did too, but his are more rhythmic,” he said. “So to take away from the solo note a little bit I wrote a descant to it.”
When they were finished with the track, John and Paul played it for John’s wife, Cynthia Lennon, and journalist Maureen Cleave. In Paul’s recollection, both of them loved the song.
How ‘Help!’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom
The Beatles’ “Help!” became a hit in the United States. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for three weeks. It spent a total of 13 weeks on the chart. The tune appeared on the soundtrack album for the film Help! That soundtrack reached No. 1 for nine of its 46 weeks on the Billboard 200.
According to The Official Charts Company, “Help!” became a hit twice in the United Kingdom. First, it was No. 1 for three of its 14 weeks on the chart. Subsequently, “Help!” reached No. 86 and stayed on the chart for three weeks. Meanwhile, the Help! album peaked at No. 1 for nine of its 39 weeks on the chart.
“Help!” became a huge hit and it wouldn’t be the same without Paul’s contribution.