Help Me, Rhonda

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Help Me, Ronda"
Song by the Beach Boys
from the album The Beach Boys Today!
PublishedFebruary 24, 1965 (1965-02-24) ( Sea of Tunes) [1]
ReleasedMarch 8, 1965
RecordedJanuary 8, 1965
Length3:10
Label Capitol
Composer(s) Brian Wilson
Lyricist(s)Brian Wilson, Mike Love
Producer(s)Brian Wilson
Audio sample
"Help Me, Rhonda"
Beach Boys - Help Me, Rhonda.jpg
Single by the Beach Boys
from the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
B-side" Kiss Me, Baby"
ReleasedApril 5, 1965
RecordedFebruary 24, 1965
Length2:46
Label Capitol
Songwriter(s) Brian Wilson, Mike Love
Producer(s)Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology
" Do You Wanna Dance?"
(1965)
"Help Me, Rhonda"
(1965)
" California Girls"
(1965)
Audio sample

"Help Me, Rhonda" is a song by American rock band the Beach Boys, appearing first on their 1965 album The Beach Boys Today! (where it was spelled "Help Me, Ronda") and subsequently in re-recorded form on the following 1965 album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). It was written by Brian Wilson, with additional lyrics by Mike Love. Unlike many other songs by the band from this period, "Help Me, Rhonda" features a lead vocal sung by Al Jardine.

According to Wilson, "Help Me, Rhonda" was not based on a real person. After being released as an album track on Today!, Wilson revisited the song, feeling it had commercial potential. This new version, featuring a different arrangement and slightly different lyrics, was released as a single in April 1965 and appeared on Summer Days later that same year. It topped the Billboard Hot 100, making it their second number-one single following " I Get Around" (1964). It remains one of the band's most acclaimed singles commercially and critically.

Background

"Help Me, Rhonda" was written by Brian Wilson with additional lyrics by Mike Love. [2] In his memoir, Wilson claimed the song was inspired by Bobby Darin's " Mack the Knife", which he was playing on the piano when he came up with the music for "Help Me Rhonda". [3] [nb 1] He has also cited " Fannie Mae" as an inspiration. [3]

The lyrics tell a story of a man who was attracted to a woman who then found another man; to aid the healing process, he begs a woman named Rhonda to help him get over her. According to Brian Wilson, "Rhonda" was not based on a real person. [5] The song's lead vocalist Al Jardine confirmed that Wilson had told him the song was fictional, though he commented, "I'm sure there was something down there in the psychology of it. ... We didn't really get into the meaning of the lyrics. They spoke for themselves." [3]

Mike Love cited the song as one where "maybe he [Brian Wilson] had a chorus idea" and Love would "come up with the lyrics to help finish off and complete the song." [6] [nb 2] Of the lyrics, Love joked, "There are a lot of people, a lot of girls named Rhonda out there who have gotten remarks related to that song all their lives." [6]

Recording

Though Brian Wilson initially intended to perform the lead vocal for the song himself, he instead assigned the part to Al Jardine. [7] Brian Wilson later stated, "I'd heard Al sing a lot and liked his voice and wanted to write a song for him that showed off the quality of his voice and sure enough I did." [8] Jardine, who had only sung one lead vocal for the band up to that point, [nb 3] recalled struggling with his vocal, recalling,

I did have a hard time with it. I don't really know. Some kind of meter thing in there. I never really tackled a lead much before. I was always interested in the backgrounds. Carl [Wilson] and I were always on the harmonies, but to take a lead was a big leap forward. And this was not an easy lead, to be honest with you. It was pretty different. I was happy that Brian asked me to sing the lead. Brian had this idea of how he wanted it and I had an idea of how I heard it, and that's basically what you get [laughs]. [9]

According to Jardine, he and Brian Wilson conflicted over Jardine's delivery of the lyric "Rhonda, you look so fine". Jardine explained, "I think the part that was hard was the length of 'fine', that was the part, to be specific with you. It could have been sung quicker or longer, and I just heard it longer and he heard it shorter. I think it kind of came out halfway in between [laughs]." [9]

The vocal overdub session for the second version of this song was notable for resulting in a particularly heated confrontation between Wilson and his father Murry, who at the time had been dismissed as the group's manager for nearly a year but was still present in the studio on occasion. After Murry continually critiqued and ridiculed the group's singing throughout each take, Brian complained and got into a tense argument which ultimately led to a physical altercation over control of the soundboard. The unedited session tape has been extensively copied and shared among Beach Boys fans. [10] [11]

Release

Two versions of "Help Me, Rhonda" were released commercially in 1965. The first version, recorded in January 1965 and featuring a ukelele-driven arrangement, was included on the band's The Beach Boys Today! album under the title "Help Me, Ronda". Jardine characterized this version as "more of a laid-back shuffle" and said it "definitely wasn't a single." [9] Mike Love similarly recalled that he "didn't anticipate" the song would become a "breakout hit". [12] Brian Wilson, however, felt the song had hit potential and the band rerecorded the track in 1965 with a punchier, guitar-led arrangement and some minor lyrical tweaks. [9]

Released as a single in March 1965, the "Help Me, Rhonda" rerecording was a commercial smash hit, reaching number one in the US and knocking the Beatles' " Ticket to Ride" from the top spot. [9] It was the band's second number one and the first since 1964's " I Get Around". In the aftermath of its chart success, the new track was then included on the band's next studio album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). [nb 4] Brian Wilson recalled, "That was one of the hits that Capitol wanted." [4]

The song would also appear on several compilation albums, among them 1967's Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 2 [12] and 1974's Endless Summer, with the latter featuring the original recording from the Today! album.

Critical reception

Upon release, Billboard described the single version as "an intriguing off-beat rouser" which "can't miss." [14] Cash Box described it as "a power-packed hard-driving romantic surfin’-rocker with an extremely infectious danceable back-beat." [15] Wilson later said of the song, "I would've made a better rhythm — it wasn't in the pocket." [16]

"Help Me, Rhonda" continues to attract critical acclaim. Writers from Paste Magazine and The Guardian ranked the song on their lists of the best Beach Boys songs, with the former publication calling the song Brian Wilson's "finest pre- Pet Sounds track." [17] [18] [nb 5] In a retrospective review, William Ruhlmann of AllMusic said of the song, "It remains one of the best examples of [Brian] Wilson's ability to turn the turmoil of his life into stirring music." [19]

Personnel

Today! version

Per Craig Slowinski. [20]

The Beach Boys

Additional musicians and production staff

Summer Days version

Per Craig Slowinski. [21]

The Beach Boys

  • Al Jardine – lead vocals
  • Mike Love – harmony and backing vocals
  • Brian Wilson – harmony and backing vocals, upright piano, Hammond B-3 organ
  • Carl Wilson – harmony and backing vocals, 12-string guitar
  • Dennis Wilson – harmony and backing vocals, tambourine

Additional musicians and production staff

Charts

Weekly charts
Chart (1965) Peak
position
Canadian RPM Top Singles [22] 1
Swedish Radio 3 [23] 5
UK Record Retailer [24] 27
US Billboard Hot 100 [25] 1
Year-end charts
Chart (1965) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 [26] 11

List of later versions

  • 1970 – Roy Orbison, The Big O.
  • 1975 – Johnny Rivers, New Lovers And Old Friends (with an assist from Brian Wilson on back-up vocals); reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Notes

  1. ^ In a later memoir, however, he claimed to first write the music on bass and came back to complete the song on the piano. [4]
  2. ^ Love's lyrical contributions to "Help Me, Rhonda" were originally uncredited, but, following a 1994 lawsuit by Love, he was retroactively awarding songwriting credit to the song, among others. [6]
  3. ^ Jardine's sole lead vocal before "Help Me, Rhonda" was on the song "Christmas Day", which appeared on the band's 1964 christmas album. [3]
  4. ^ Bruce Johnston, who had recently been recruited by the band, claimed to have suggested to Brian that, since it was a new recording, the single version should be included on the Summer Days album. [13]
  5. ^ Paste ranked it at number four on their list, while The Guardian ranked it at number 31.

References

  1. ^ Library of Congress. Copyright Office. (1965). Catalog of Copyright Entries 3D Ser Vol 19 Pt 5. United States Copyright Office. U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
  2. ^ Slowinski, Craig (2007). "The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys Today!" (PDF). Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Dillon, Mark (June 1, 2012). Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story. ECW Press. ISBN  978-1-77090-198-8.
  4. ^ a b Wilson, Brian (October 11, 2016). I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir. Hachette Books. ISBN  978-0-306-82307-7.
  5. ^ Will, George F. (June 20, 2012). "The Beach Boys still get around". Washington Post. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c MacIntosh, Dan. "Mike Love of The Beach Boys". Songfacts. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  7. ^ "Brian Wilson tells personal stories behind 10 Beach Boys hit songs". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  8. ^ Sharp, Ken. "Best Individual Artist: Brian Wilson". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e Sharp, Ken (July 28, 2000). "Alan Jardine: A Beach Boy Still Riding The Waves". Goldmine.
  10. ^ Greene, Bob (November 2, 1997). "The Secrets of the "Help Me, Rhonda" Tape". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "I'm a Genius, Too! The Murry Wilson Tapes".
  12. ^ a b Love, Mike; Hirsch, James S. (September 13, 2016). Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy. Penguin. ISBN  978-0-698-40886-9.
  13. ^ Sharp, Ken (September 2013). "Bruce Johnston On the Beach Boys' Enduring Legacy (Interview)". Archived from the original on September 30, 2013.
  14. ^ "Singles Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. April 10, 1965. p. 48. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. April 10, 1965. p. 18. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  16. ^ "Brian Answer's Fans' Questions In Live Q&A". Brianwilson.com. January 29, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  17. ^ Blau, Max (May 15, 2011). "The 20 Best Beach Boys Songs". Paste Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  18. ^ Petridis, Alexis (January 27, 2022). "The Beach Boys' 40 greatest songs – ranked!". the Guardian. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  19. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Help Me, Rhonda by The Beach Boys - Track Info". AllMusic. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  20. ^ Slowinski, Craig (2007). "The Beach Boys- The Beach Boys Today!" (PDF). Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Slowinski, Craig. "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)". Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "Item 9502: Top Singles - Volume 3, No. 15, Jun 07, 1965 – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". bac-lac.gc.ca/. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  23. ^ Hallberg, Eric (1993). Kvällstoppen i P3 (1st ed.). Sweden: Drift Musik. ISBN  91-630-2140-4. Note: Kvällstoppen combined both singles and albums into a single chart.
  24. ^ "Beach Boys". Official Charts. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  25. ^ "The Beach Boys". Billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  26. ^ " Top Singles of 1965", Billboard 1966 International Record & Talent Showcase. Section Two. December 25, 1965. p. 23-24. Retrieved October 19, 2018.