Thursday, August 6, 2015


The Beatles had a ticket to ride and opened up the doors to new studio sophistication with this soundtrack symbiosis.    Following close on the heels of  'Hard Day's Night'  and  'Beatles For Sale',  the band returned to EMI Studios on Abbey Road in London during February of 1965 to record the seven songs that would appear in their second motion picture, tentatively titled 'Eight Arms to Hold You'.   The success of the 'Hard Day's Night' film afforded this new project a bigger budget and the filming took place in several exotic locations including  London, Salisbury Plain, the Austrian Alps, New Providence Island and Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Twickenham Film Studios.   When the filming was finished, the band returned to the studio in June to finish up the tracks that would fill out side two of the album.  The sessions were the first to utilized studio musicians since their first single "Love Me Do".    It was also the first time that four tracks were not enough for their purposes.  In order to get the sound they wanted for the title track, they transferred the initial four track recording down to another four track tape so that they could add more.   The album also demonstrated a dramatic turn to more personal lyrical content.  

John:   "I was in Kenwood and I would just be songwriting. The period would be for songwriting and so every day I would attempt to write a song, and it's one of those that you sort of sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand, head in hand...' I started thinking about my own emotions - I don't know when exactly it started, like I'm A Loser or Hide Your Love Away or those kind of things - instead of projecting myself into a situation. I would try to express what I felt about myself which I'd done in me books. I think it was Dylan helped me realise that - not by any discussion or anything but just by hearing his work - I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing pop songs; he would turn out a certain style of song for a single and we would do a certain style of thing for this and the other thing. I was already a stylized songwriter on the first album. But to express myself I would write Spaniard In The Works or In His Own Write, the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions. I'd have a separate songwriting John Lennon who wrote songs for the sort of meat market, and I didn't consider them - the lyrics or anything - to have any depth at all. They were just a joke. Then I started being me about the songs, not writing them objectively, but subjectively  ...  We were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us because it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world  ...  If you play our early records and the late-- even though we haven't made all that many-- there's alot of difference. Even recording technique. If you improve that slightly-- your sound changes, basically."

Paul:    "I don't know. I just don't think anybody will want to hear a song called, 'Eight Arms To Hold You.' So it was a crummy title I think. It was ok... we were getting a bit desperate for titles, and then Ringo said, 'Eight Arms To Hold You' ...and we all said, 'Great!' But then we suddenly realized a couple of days later that we were all sick of it and didn't like it. We thought it was a bit daft  ...  We just write songs, and they are fitted into the film. That's what we did last time. We're not like other songwriters who get suggestions from certain lines in a movie script. Often we write the tunes first, without having a title. We'll get that later ...  John would often have the melody and the lyrics to one verse, and the trickiest thing is making any more of it. The second verse is nearly always the killer because you've often said it all in the first verse, but by pushing yourself you can actually get a second verse better than your first. It's always more difficult because you mustn't repeat yourself-- you've got to take the idea somewhere else, but it has to have the same metre and the same melody. That was often where he or I needed help. There tended to be four verses in our songs, one chorus that repeated endlessly, and a middle-eight. So if it was John's idea, generally I would come in at the second verse. The first verse was always good to finish with-- it was like, 'Remember what I told you at the beginning of this song? I'm going to reiterate it now.' That was always a good little trick."

George:   "We were always kind of, you know, a little nervous before each step we went up the ladder, but we always had that confidence and that was the good thing about being four together - we all shared the experience ...  I had these two guys who used to write songs whenever we needed some. I think we just called them up and said, 'Look, we'll be doing a movie now lads, will you come up with a couple of catchy hits?'  ...  We are always worried with each record. With 'Ticket To Ride' we were even more worried. There's bound to be a time when we come in at 19 (on the charts). But this 'number one' business doesn't seem to stop-- great while it lasts-- but now we'll have to start all over again and people will start predicting funny things for the next one."

Ringo:   "I sang Act Naturally in Help! I found it on a Buck Owens record and I said, 'This is the one I am going to be doing,' and they said 'OK'. We were listening to all kinds of things. John sang Dizzy Miss Lizzy. We were all listening to that, too. Paul, of course, had written his Yesterday; the most recorded song in history. What a guy!  ...  A hell of a lot of pot was being smoked while we were making the film. It was great. That helped make it a lot of fun ... In one of the scenes, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear are playing curling: sliding along those big stones. One of the stones has a bomb in it and we find out that it's going to blow up, and have to run away. Well, Paul and I ran about seven miles, we ran and ran, just so we could stop and have a joint before we came back. We could have run all the way to Switzerland. If you look at pictures of us you can see a lot of red-eyed shots; they were red from the dope we were smoking. And these were those clean-cut boys! Dick Lester knew that very little would get done after lunch. In the afternoon we very seldom got past the first line of the script. We had such hysterics that no one could do anything. Dick Lester would say, 'No, boys, could we do it again?' It was just that we had a lot of fun – a lot of fun in those days."

'Help!' went to number one in Australia, Germany, the UK, and the US; although the US version only included the seven songs from the film augmented with instrumental bits from the movie soundtrack.  Some songs would appear on US releases of 'Yesterday...And Today'  and  'Rubber Soul'.   The band would express:  

Ringo: "The English album is 14 tracks, and they're all our numbers. And on the American one-- I don't know how many tracks are on it, but then you've got some..."

Paul: "There's seven of ours."

George: "The thing is, Capitol issue all sort of mad stuff, you know. It's nothing to do with us. We take fourteen tracks to be put out, but they keep a couple and put them out later."

Paul: "But it's a drag, because the album-- We make an album to be like an album, and to be a complete thing."

John: "We plan it, and they wreck it."


Paul: "No offense, Capitol-- but we send it over here and they put the (movie score) soundtrack on. And, you know, if someone is gonna buy one of our records I think they want to hear us and not soundtrack."

"Help!" became another chart topper for the band.   
John:  "The whole Beatle thing was just beyond comprehension. I was eating and drinking like a pig and I was fat as a pig, dissatisfied with myself, and subconsciously I was crying for help...When 'Help' came out, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it's just a fast rock 'n roll song. I didn't realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. So it was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He -- I -- is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was. Now I may be very positive... yes, yes... but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out the window, you know. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older; I don't know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help."

"Ticket To Ride" was a number one hit in seven countries.
Paul;   "I think it was largely John's - the actual Ticket To Ride bit. We wrote it together you see, with John and I. Certain songs would nearly always be the idea of one of us. One of us had actually said, 'Ticket To Ride would be good', the other one would say, 'Okay, that's what we'll write today' ... I think the interesting thing is the crazy ending-- instead of ending like the previous verse, we changed the tempo. We picked up one of the lines, 'My baby don't care,' but completely altered the melody. We almost invented the idea of a new bit of a song on the fade-out with this song... It was quite radical at the time."

"Yesterday" was another number one smash.  The song was basically Paul solo with a string quartet and the rest of the band thought it was too much of a departure from their sound.  It got buried near the end of the album; but the effect of the song (in my opinion) is spoiled by the album closer.  
Paul:   "I just started playing it and this tune came, 'cuz that's what happens. They just, sort of-- they COME, you know. It just came and I couldn't think of any words to it, so originally it was just, 'Scrambled Egg.' It was called 'Scrambled Egg' for a couple of months, until I thought of 'Yesterday.' And that's it. True story...It fell out of bed. I had a piano by my bedside and I... must have dreamed it, because I tumbled out of bed and put my hands on the piano keys and I had a tune in my head. It was just all there, a complete thing. I couldn't believe it. It came too easy. In fact, I didn't believe I'd written it. I thought maybe I'd heard it before, it was some other tune, and I went around for weeks playing the chords of the song for people, asking them, 'Is this like something? I think I've written it.' And people would say, 'No, it's not like anything else, but it's good.'"

full album:

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney, except where noted.

Side one
1. "Help!"   Lennon 2:18
2. "The Night Before"   McCartney 2:33
3. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"   Lennon 2:08
4. "I Need You" (George Harrison) Harrison 2:28
5. "Another Girl"   McCartney 2:05
6. "You're Going to Lose That Girl"   Lennon 2:17
7. "Ticket to Ride"   Lennon with McCartney 3:10
Side two
1. "Act Naturally" (Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison) Starr 2:29
2. "It's Only Love"   Lennon 1:54
3. "You Like Me Too Much" (George Harrison) Harrison 2:35
4. "Tell Me What You See"   McCartney and Lennon 2:36
5. "I've Just Seen a Face"   McCartney 2:04
6. "Yesterday"   McCartney 2:03
7. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams) Lennon 2:53

John Lennon - lead, harmony, and background vocals; rhythm guitar; electric piano
Paul McCartney – lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and bass guitars; electric and acoustic pianos; güiro
George Harrison – harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm guitars; lead vocals on "I Need You"
Ringo Starr – drums and miscellaneous percussion; lead vocals on "Act Naturally"
Additional musicians
George Martin – producer, piano on "You Like Me Too Much"
John Scott – tenor and alto flutes on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"

String quartet on "Yesterday", arranged by Martin in association with McCartney

full film:
Ringo:   "Uhh, yeah. Yeah. I can't tell you what the plot is, but here are some of the questions that we answered. (reads) 'Why were the high priests of the terrible goddess of Kaili interested in the Beatles? What did they want of him? They weren't fans. Two leading scientists hope to rule the world. Paul is threatened by a Beetle-- B, double-E, T, L, E.'...I'm chased by a gang of thugs all the way through it actually."


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