With a Little Help from My Friends is the second track from the iconic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 and this was the first album to be released during their studio period. The album pushed the boundaries of popular music by experimenting with different musical influences and combining them with rock and pop.
The album has a theme that links all tracks and is intended to be played in full. The Beatles also wanted the album to sound as if it was played live by the fictional military band so they even added an orchestra tuning up and applause.
Rock ’n’ roll influences can be heard in early songs by The Beatles, such as She Loves You and I Saw Her Standing There. Their style altered over the years and became more experimental. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded during the band’s studio years and features unusual electronic instruments, guitar effects, traditional Indian-originating instruments, a 40-piece orchestra plus a French horn quartet. The genre can be classed as psychedelic rock due to its strange lyrics and surreal sounds.
With a Little Help from My Friends leads on from the opening song Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with no break. The two songs are cross-faded together with pre-recorded applause. With a Little Help from My Friends was sung by Ringo Starr in the fictional character of Billy Shears, which was his alter ego in Sgt. Pepper’s band. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the track especially for Ringo to sing. The album was produced by George Martin who had been heavily influenced by the album Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. He wanted to expand the range of techniques used in both composition and production.
The album was recorded in Abbey Road studios using a Studer J37 4-track machine. This early form of multitrack recording enabled four different tracks to be mixed into a single track and then combined with additional tracks. It meant that The Beatles could play lots of different instruments in one song. The album uses different types of technology and was never meant to be performed live.