Monday, December 29, 2014

"With a Little Help from My Friends"

Joe Cocker's performance of Lennon-McCartney's "With a Little Help from My Friends" was a highlight of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Apart from Cocker's expressive vocal (of which Rolling Stone writer John Mendelsohn wrote: "his feeling for what he is singing cannot really be questioned"), it is the backing vocals that I most look forward to every time I come upon the film version of this fair.

In the studio version of the song, the backing vocals are supplied by four women -- Madeline Bell, Rosetta Hightower, Sue Wheetman and Sunny Wheetman. But at Woodstock the gender roles are reversed and the backing vocals come to us from Cocker's long-haired male guitarist and bassist -- in falsetto. What could have easily turned this song into a farce turns it into something infinitely more ambiguous. A "live" music classic.

R.I.P Joe Cocker (May 20, 1944 - December 22, 2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment