Magical History Tour: The Beatles In HELP! - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Magical History Tour: The Beatles In HELP!

Chris Morley needs somebody.

July 1965 found the Beatles back on the cinematic treadmill as United Artists looked to capitalise on the success of A Hard Day's Night. Pairing them once more with Richard Lester, Help! saw them having not only to struggle through the recording of a new album, at least as part of the narrative, but also protect Ringo from the unwelcome attentions a pair of mad scientists and an Eastern cult - both parties having an eye on one of his rings....

So begins perhaps the oddest day's work the Fab Four will ever have. After all, if the drummer doesn't give up the finger bling he'll end up as a victim of human sacrifice! It's been sent to him by a fan who originally just so happened to be the cult's intended offering to the goddess Kali, so as you might expect they're on its, and by extension his, tail in a suitably swinging London. Which means Ringo can't even enjoy a nice Indian meal with his bandmates in peace! And it was probably just the day for a three meals for the price of four special offer as well!

Abandoning their Ruby Murray for a chase around the capital (possibly deciding they don't care too much for curry 'cos curry can't buy them love, & besides there's no time to find somebody who wants to hold their naan), time to try & get the irksome jewellery off. A visit to an actual jeweler somehow fails to yield the desired result, so as you do they decide to try and lay low for a bit in Switzerland - where there's probably even less chance of a decent vindaloo or something a bit milder on their by now no doubt jetlagged tummies. They're probably left wishing they were still in whatever was passing for Wetherspoons back home after they narrowly avoid a trap in the Alps.

A diversion into the soundtrack album reveals it was John Lennon who was beginning to feel a little vulnerable, the title track basically his plea for a bit of TLC in the face of all-consuming fame. As he said in a 1980 interview,
"The whole Beatles thing was just beyond comprehension. I was subconsciously crying out for help."
Twelve takes later, he had the completed song, but was evidently still feeling a bit glum. Step forward You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, described by songwriting partner Paul McCartney as his old mate's attempt to crib off Bob Dylan. The fact he never opened up on the inspiration behind it has led to several possible interpretations. Was he writing from a point of view of unrequited love? Could it even have been written for the group's manager Brian Epstein, forced to hide his homosexuality?
Here I stand head in hand
Turn my face to the wall
If she's gone, I can't go on
Feeling two foot small
Everywhere people stare
Each and every day
I can see them laugh at me
And I hear them say

Hey, you've got to hide your love away
Hey, you've got to hide your love away

How can I even try?
I can never win
Hearing them, seeing them
In the state I'm in........
Another variation on romantic comings and goings - stop sniggering at the back - which made the cut arrived in the the shape of the co-written Ticket To Ride.

Paul has said the track is about the girl of his dreams booking a literal ticket to Ryde. This may well have also marked the start of a sort of fascination with the Isle of Wight, going by When I'm Sixty-Four's mention of renting a cottage there after much scrimping & saving! Before such dreams can become reality down on the south coast, though, there's serious business to attend to.
She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around....
An allusion to the end of his relationship with Jane Asher, her acting work just as much of a contributing factor to the not exactly inescapable fact of his being one-fourth of the Beatles. Little wonder all he wanted to do at this point was drown his sorrows in chicken tikka masala & cheap lager with the lads knowing his baby wouldn't care, eh? Poor lamb.

The trip to the Indian & its attendant Eastern-infused music is also said to have helped spark George Harrison's interest in such, leading to his playing sitar on Norwegian Wood from Rubber Soul after being taken with its sound as heard in Help! Although Help! wasn't the original title of the second Beatles feature, it only became this toward the end of production - three months prior to its release in fact, leading Lennon to write the song "Help!" in one night.

The original title was Eight Arms to Hold You, which was even printed on the single Ticket to Ride as promotion for the upcoming film. The change to Help! came after alternative suggestions from George Harrison (Who's Been Sleeping in My Porridge) and United Artists producer Walter Shenson (The Day the Clowns Collapsed). Collectively The Beatles had also suggested High-Heeled Knickers, a play on the title of Tommy Tucker's 1964 hit song High-Heeled Sneakers.

Shot in colour on a much bigger budget than A Hard Days Night, the Beatles apparently weren't too keen on the film and the process of making Help! In 1970, John Lennon said they felt like extras in their own film:
"The film was out of our control. With A Hard Day's Night, we had a lot of input, and it was semi-realistic. But with Help!, Dick Lester didn't tell us what it was all about."
Ten years later Lennon was more charitable:
"I realise, looking back, how advanced it was. It was a precursor to the Batman "Pow! Wow!" on TV – that kind of stuff. But [Lester] never explained it to us. Partly, maybe, because we hadn't spent a lot of time together between A Hard Day's Night and Help!, and partly because we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. Nobody could communicate with us, it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time. In our own world. It's like doing nothing most of the time, but still having to rise at 7 am, so we became bored."
Help! proved to be the band's last full-length scripted theatrical film, with the Beatles feeling hesitant to begin another film project, but they would eventually find time for a magical mystery tour. something of a combination of Ken Kesey's LSD-aided & abetted journeys across America with the Merry Pranksters and the rather more British coach trips between Liverpool & Blackpool to see the lights of that particular Northern seaside town awaits us next time.

Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour, step right this way.........

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