#120: With a Little Help From My Friends

  • Paul McCartney kicking him out after he asked Paul to delay the release of his first solo album so it wouldn’t compete with Let it Be
  • George Harrison professing his love for Maureen Starkey and proceeding to have an affair with her
  • John and Paul having him open a song with the query, “What would you think if I sang out of tune?”

These may be the three cruelest things Ringo Starr’s bandmates did to him, in ascending order. Of course, the drummer took it all like a champ, and he eventually managed to turn “With a Little Help from My Friends” into his signature song that still concludes All-Starr Band concerts to this day. (He also released his first solo album, Sentimental Journey, before McCartney hit the shelves and ended up marrying Bond girl Barbara Bach so I guess things kind of worked out.)

You only marry twice.


As bewildering as the opening lyric may be, this is undoubtedly the strongest song Lennon/McCartney allowed to Ringo to sing, and there’s only one other Ringo lead vocal remaining on the countdown (his own composition, “Octopus’s Garden”). There are some other curious lines here as well–namely the blatant drug reference in the chorus, “I get high with a little help from my friends,” and the mercifully vague response to John and Paul’s question, “What do you see when you turn out the light?” “I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.” Overall, it’s a jaunty, fun track that probably couldn’t have been released any year other than 1967 but also still feels less dated than the bulk of Sgt. Pepper.

Incidentally, this also gets my vote for the only Beatles song that is actually bettered by a cover version. Joe Cocker’s forceful take on “With a Little Help From My Friends” was a highlight of 1969’s iconic Woodstock festival and later served as the theme song to the incredible coming of age series The Wonder Years, and you know I’m all about that Danica McKellar business.

I’ll be your second husband.
#120: With a Little Help From My Friends