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How depression inspired John Lennon to write “Help!”


How depression inspired John Lennon to write “Help!”

Depression is a serious thing and can affect anyone, regardless of where they live, who they are and how much success and money they have. At the height of The Beatles success, John Lennon was already one of the most successful and respected songwriters in the world but he wasn’t feeling well. That struggle and all the things he was feeling led him to write the hit “Help!”, which was released on the album of the same name in 1965.


The musician recalled in an interview with Playboy magazine in 1980, how he felt when he wrote the track and how things changed when he got older. The interesting thing about the song is that when you feel depressed you need to reach out for help and talk with family, friends and a psychologist. But Lennon decided to write a song and put all his feelings in the lyrics, telling all the world he needed help.

How depression inspired John Lennon to write “Help!”

“When ‘Help’ came out in ’65, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it’s just a fast rock ‘n roll song. I didn’t realize it at the time. I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: (The character) is very fat, very insecure, and he’s completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was.”

“Now I may be very positive… yes, yes. But I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out the window, you know. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older.  I don’t know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help. In those days, when the Beatles were depressed, we had this little chant.”

“I would yell out, ‘Where are we going, fellows?’ They would say, ‘To the top, Johnny,’ in pseudo-American voices. And I would say, ‘Where is that, fellows?’ And they would say, ‘To the toppermost of the poppermost.’ It was some dumb expression from a cheap movie, a la ‘Blackboard Jungle,’ about Liverpool. Johnny was the leader of the gang,” John Lennon said.

He was depressed about the level of success of The Beatles

He was asked by the interviewer if he knew why he was depressed during that period and the musician said that it was hard to cope with the level of success The Beatles had. “The Beatles thing had just gone beyond comprehension. We were smoking marijuana for breakfast. We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us. Because we were just all glazed eyes, giggling all the time.”

“In our own world. That was the song, ‘Help.’ I think everything that comes out of a song. Even Paul’s songs now, which are apparently about nothing, shows something about yourself,” John Lennon said.

The track continues to be one of their most successful songs. At the time peaked at number 1 on the charts of several countries. Some of them were Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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