We still believe in yesterday. Well, 18,262 yesterdays ago to be exact. Help! is celebrating a 50th birthday.
The Beatles fifth studio album was released on July 23, 1965, in the United Kingdom. In States, where the Fab Four material was repackaged, recycled and retitled on several labels, it was either their eighth or tenth release, depending on how you count them.
Regardless of its sequential place in the band’s discography, Help! signaled a dramatic turning point in the Beatles’ career. The Liverpool quartet made a bold leap from teen beat combo to studio artists. Rock & roll covers were now a rarity, relegated to just a couple tracks on Side Two. Paul, John, George and Ringo were no longer wearing black suits or turtlenecks on the album cover. The Beatles had met Bob Dylan a year before, and now acoustic guitars and frank introspection were working their way into the songwriting. The title alone was an sincerely plea from John, not merely some love-struck ditty.
Days later, Help!, the group’s zany second feature film, would hit theaters. To celebrate the half-century birthday of a pop culture landmark, here some fascinating facts about the album and film.
1) The original title of the film was Eight Arms To Hold You.
Three decades later, the Chicago rock band Veruca Salt would use the phrase for the title of its sophomore release.
2) The band played a spur-of-the-moment concert in the film crew’s hotel when filming the ski scenes in Austria.
It would be their only gig on Austrian soil.
3) The Beatles were contracted to United Artists to make three feature films.
The animated Yellow Submarine did not count towards fulfilling the deal. The 1970 Let It Be documentary completed the deal.
4) A novelization of the movie was released by Dell.
The book contains extra scenes, like when the Beatles go to a Shakespeare class and perform Macbeth.
5) John and Paul have two very different —and very John and Paul — explanations for “Ticket to Ride.”
McCartney claims the title refers to a train pass to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. John claimed it was about German prostitutes getting a clean bill of health.
6) Ringo’s “Act Naturally” would be the band’s last recorded cover song until the Get Back/Let It Be session.
The band almost recorded a song by their studio engineer, but realized that Ringo didn’t have a song on the record.
7) The Beatles are actually spelling out “N-U-J-V” in semaphore on the cover.
The photographer did not like the arm arrangements with the band spelling “H-E-L-P.”
8) Paul composed the melody of “Yesterday” in a dream while sleeping at the home of his girlfriend and her parents.
He was at first afraid he had subconsciously plagiarized someone else’s song.
9) Capitol Records planned to re-release “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” as a single along with “Girl” to promote a love songs compilation in 1977.
They canceled the release.
10) “Help!” was the first Beatles song ever licensed for a US television ad.
Lincoln-Mercury paid $100,000 to put the song in a commercial — but it was a cover recorded by sound-alikes with the help of George Martin.
11) “I’ve Just Seen a Face” was originally titled “Aunty Gin’s Theme.”
It’s also their first — and one of few — tracks without a bass line!