Paul McCartney Compared Writing 1 of The Beatles’ Songs to Writing a James Bond Theme

TL;DR:

  • Paul McCartney said writing one of The Beatles’ songs was akin to writing a James Bond theme.
  • Paul and John Lennon wrote the tune for Ringo Starr to sing.
  • Ringo was portraying a character in the song.
The soundtrack of the James Bond film 'Goldfinger' next to The Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night' on a shelf
The soundtrack of the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’ next to The Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ | Anthony Correia/Getty Images

Paul McCartney compared one of The Beatles’ songs to a James Bond theme. Subsequently, he said the track was “tongue in cheek.” The track appeared on The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote 1 of The Beatles songs like they were in a trance

In the 1968 book The Beatles: The Authorised Biography, journalist Hunter Davies described the writing of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” “John started playing his guitar and Paul started banging on his piano,” Davies wrote. “For a couple of hours they both banged away.”

Davies discussed the Lennon-McCartney collaboration. “Each seemed to be in a trance until the other came up with something good, then he would pluck it out of a mass of noises and try it himself,” he wrote.

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Why Paul McCartney compared the song to a James Bond theme

In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul discussed the song’s origin. “It was pretty much co-written, John and I doing a work song for Ringo, a little craft job,” he recalled. “I always saw those as the equivalent of writing a James Bond film theme. It was a challenge, it was something out of the ordinary for us because we actually had to write in a key for Ringo and you had to be a little tongue in cheek.”

Paul contrasted “With a Little Help From My Friends” with “Yellow Submarine.” “Ringo liked kids a lot, he was very good with kids so we knew ‘Yellow Submarine’ would be a good thing for Ringo to sing,” he remembered. “In this case, it was a slightly more mature song, which I always liked very much.”

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How The Beatles’ ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

Since “With a Little Help From My Friends” was never a single in the United States, it didn’t hit the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles included the track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sgt. Pepper topped the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks and remained on the chart for 233 weeks altogether.

The Official Charts Company says “With a Little Help From My Friends” became a double A-side single with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the United Kingdom. The tracks reached No. 63 and lasted three weeks on the chart. For 28 weeks, Sgt. Pepper topped the U.K. charts. It stayed on the chart for 277 weeks in total.

“With a Little Help From My Friends” was a hit — even if it doesn’t sound much like a Bond theme.

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