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Fab Four Face-Off: What's Your Favorite Song from 'Help!'?

THE_BEATLES_HELP

With the official release of the Beatles' remastered catalog this week, Pop & Hiss asks the musical question: What would go on your Beatles mix tape?

Fifth in my picks for the best song from each of the Fabs' 13 remastered albums, this entry considers "Help!" -- the fifth album in the series.

Leave your comments after the jump. Embrace or shun me for picking....

"Yesterday."

I agonized over this one. But the 10-year-old in me won.

As a fortysomething critic, I can recognize that songs such as "Ticket to Ride," with its little bit of raga and Otis Redding-worthy heartache, or "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," which reveals the true potential of rock tambourine, may be better (fancier, at least) choices. Plus, those songs were actually featured in the cinematic caper that gives this album its name.

I know that sophisticates scorn "Yesterday" for its greeting card rhyme scheme and after-dinner mint melody. McCartney with strings! That's about as rock 'n' roll -- as the Beatles go -- as a Mantovani record.

The other Beatles agreed at the time, and "Yesterday" wasn't released as a lead single (in the U.K.) until the mid-1970s, when I was a preteen.

Maybe because of that delayed release, or just coincidentally, Paul's little reverie made me fall head over heels for him, the Beatles and pop itself. Never before "Yesterday" did I realize how a song could capture how yearning could hurt so much, yet be impossible to clearly articulate; or how sadness could seduce as well as wound the heart.

That's what this plain song captures, with its unfinished plot and vague imagery and dead-perfect melody. It outlines the vast gray area where wrecked or unrealized dreams go, and never quite die. As a child, I had no yesterday to believe in, but this song told me that gaining those losses was a basic part of growing up.

So hate "Yesterday" if you must, but admit it is some kind of primary text. I'm not the only person who thinks so: a while back, the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the most-recorded song in pop history.

-- Ann Powers

Photo credit: Apple Corps

 
Comments () | Archives (36)

"I've Just Seen a Face" - great guitar work, great melody and singing; or "Ticket to Ride" - great Beatles energy on this one. Followed by "Help!" for obvious reasons, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (nice Dylan homage), "Yesterday" and "It's Only Love" (Lennon hated the song, but the music is very nice, even if the lyrics are pretty bad).

"Yesterday" is the greatest song on the album (although on the US release, at the time, it was a part of album "Yesterday & Today"). "Help" has so many really excellent songs, most that dovetail right into the feel of "Rubber Soul." But, my favorite song...what I always listen to...is "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."

I have to go with "Ticket to Ride," since it's the first Beatles song that I really connected with as a child. "Yesterday" is not a bad pick, it's still a great song, even if we've all heard it 1,000 times. There really aren't many songs on this album I don't love, especially the seven songs from the film, and the two songs that would appear on the US version of Rubber Soul.

Ann, you may be bracing yourself for the backlash with your choice of "Yesterday," but for better or worse, it has been covered over and over and over again, in different styles and in different languages throughout the years.

Now, as for me, I love "Help!" and I love "You Got To Hide Your Love Away" (not for the tambourine, but for the flute solo!) but the best song on there is without a doubt in my mind, "I've Just Seen A Face." I don't care how "Paul McCartney" it is: I love the intro, I love the giddiness throughout the song, I love the (muted) guitar solo in that song.

Everyone waits for that moment in their life when they fall head over heels for someone and they just don't know why. It's such an exciting moment that assures you you're alive.

"Yesterday" is a truly great song; no arguments there. But my favorite from this album is "You're Gonna Lose That Girl". On the surface, it seems like a typical girl-group style advice song along the lines of "It's In His Kiss". But how friendly are the Beatles in this song? Is it possible that John isn't actually talking to his friend, but just grumbling to himself?

New harmonic territory is being explored here as well. The song modulates from one key to another for the bridge, and finds an inventive way back to the original key. The music is boisterous; the song never fails to bring a big smile to my face.

"Ticket to Ride," definitely. Maybe the definitive Beatles song, as it looked back to the then-ending mop-top era, and forward to the more musically adventurous one that lie ahead. George and Ringo just kill me on this one.

Ticket to Ride

Just picked up the remastered at Barnes and Nobles last night!

I've always a sweet spot for "Ticket To Ride" as a music appreciation teacher used this song as an example of song structure.

Also rediscovered a hidden gem of "You're Gonna Lose That Girl", too

Being an insane Beatlemaniac [I'm taking a break from Rockband at the moment] I can't help but love all the songs but, I've always loved "You Like Me Too Much".
P.S. I won't shun you for "Yesterday". I loooove Paul.

I love "It's only love"... in effect, I really like all Help.

First let me say, "Yesterday" is a great song. Not my favorite but a great song.

"Help" is as interesting an album as it was a movie. To be honest, as much of a Beatles fan as I am, I was not really a fan of that movie. The album however is pretty damn good!

Again, I have a two part answer. Looking first at the movie sountrack my favorite song absolutely has got to be "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." The 12-string meoldy in this song makes it what it is. The backing guitar adds the extra zip it needs to be amazing. Although a simple rhyme scheme is used, the song is beautiful.

Looking at the CD release, my favorite song on "Help!" is "It's Only Love." Take the capoed guitar, added a mellow drum melody, minor guitar riffs, and John's melodic vocals and you have the ingredients to an amazing song. Looking at the lyrics themselves, we hear John sing about the results of falling in love.


Overall, though only by a small margin, I choose "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."

I absolutely agree with you. For years I used to sneer at this song for it's banality and almost kitsch like reputation (thanks to countless awful cover versions). But all that changed recently. I am going through some personal heart break my self and the sense of longing and feeling of helplessness that comes with wishing one could turn back to clock and do things differently, makes me appreciate the majesty of this simple yet profound song. Definitely a masterpiece.

I’ll go with the "fancy" choice---“Ticket to Ride” as it sounds like a summation of everything they were learning in the studio to that point----creating a sound that had more gravitas than could be achieved by four musicians live on stage. Also it has a wholly unique drum pattern and the lead guitar devised by Paul---a progression from the early sound—and the raga feel that you mention as well. To top it off it features one of Lennon’s coolest vocals. A great record.

I do not think "Yesterday" is a bad choice at all----and I think you've pretty much nailed it---that's how I felt when I first listened to the song as well (except for the falling for Paul bit) (Marianne Faithfull, on the other hand……..)—I couldn’t have said it as well as you did---nor have I read anyone else who has come to think of it!
I really enjoy the MONO mix----it has enough variants to make this overplayed song feel almost new!

For me, it would have to be "I've Just Seen a Face". There are so many catchy beautiful songs on the album though that it is hard to pick just one.

"You're Gonna Lose That Girl" is my favourite track on Help!, mostly because I love Lennon's vocals in it and the melody is dangerously rythmic/ dancy/ catchy as always.

Tricky question. Stuck between You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, Help, and I've Just Seen A Face. Think it's impossible to choose a favourite song off any of their albums. There's so much going on in all of them.

Dizzy Miss Lizzy! What a rocker! Dizzy Miss Lizzy is on my top ten of all Beatles songs (if it's possible to even narrow down ten songs I love!). Love the guitar work. Love, love, love John Lennon's voice. Love everything about it. It was the song I was most excited about listening to on the remasters and I've been blown away by it, yet again!

Gotta say this one was tough. Too many great songs in my all time fave Beatles record. That's gotta be hard enough. However, I choose "It's Only Love". Even though I know John hated the song, I can't help but find it simplistically beautiful.

Toss up between It's Only Love and i've Just Seen a Face. Too close to call. Both were on the American Rubber Soul and in my opinion, fit in better than Drive My Car and If I Needed Someone, making Rubber Soul the only American release superior to its British counterpart.

I realize that the times we live in are just too damned weird to focus any degree of attention on a rock 'n' roll band that released its final recording forty-years-ago last month - two of whose members are gone from our midst. Think about it. In 1969, at the height of all that was going on then, any columnist who would have devoted a entire page to the greatness of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra would have been laughed out of the business. But this isn't just any band we're talking about here. With the exception of the President's address to a joint session of Congress last night, I didn't spend much time yesterday focusing on affairs of state. September 9, 2009 belonged to the Beatles.

Yesterday marked the long-awaited release of a box set containing all fourteen albums recorded by the Fab Four between the years 1962 and 1970. What makes this package different from what has previously been available is the fact that the engineers at EMI (the studio in London where they did most of their work) have digitally remastered the recordings from the original multi-track tapes. It was like listening to them for the first time all over again. The Beatles have never sounded better - I didn't even think that was possible!

Let me attempt the impossible and sum up the Beatles' message in one sentence: We are the makers of our own dreams. That works for me.

Dream. Dream away.

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Possible choices for me are Help!, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, You're Gonna Lose That Girl, Ticket To Ride, I've Just Seen A Face, and Yesterday.

I probably would go with Ticket To Ride, because the whole production is so completely perfect. I've Just Seen A Face is probably a close second. This makes me realize that I quite prefer Lennon's songs on this record to Paul's.

The Night Before.

All of the songs are good, but I've always liked "The Night Before", for its emotional ups and downs and especially its brilliantly brief bridge, "Last night is a night...etc."

Chris, I've Just Seen A Face Is a Paul song not a John song, so you really like one from both on the album.

Hm, maybe Act Naturally, or Ticket to Ride

 
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