Exploring the “stupid” and “weird” Ringo Starr song that The Beatles tried to forget
The Beatles would generally allow Ringo Starr to have his moment in the sun on every record, an occasion when he would take up lead vocals on a song that either Lennon or McCartney had penned and no longer fancied. Starr, being the obliging backbone of the band, would pick up the slack and re-imagine a number in his own unique style.
The creation of the 1965 effort ‘Help!’ was no different. The Beatles, sharing the love, would also see George Harrison take up vocal duties on two tracks which would successfully make it onto the record. Ringo had attempted his own original song for the record but it had fallen incredibly flat and was shelved immediately.
As they had promised him a song on the project, the Fab Four then recorded ‘Ringo’s Song’ in a hurry on the final day of their sessions for the album which would end up being a cover of ‘Act Naturally’ which was written by Johnny Russell.
Unfortunately for Starr, his moment was all done at the very last minute. Recalling the atrocity which was their first attempt at a song titled ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’, Ringo was tasked with working on the old Lennon and McCartney track that the principle songwriting duo of the band had discarded. Ringo, who had been working on the material, decided to add some touches too. However, his valiant efforts weakened an already weak number.
The song’s lyrical content, to put it simply, is just confusing. Ringo’s first line is bizarre by anyone’s definition: “If you’ve got trouble, then you’ve got less trouble than me,” he sings. The drummer then later snarls: “And don’t think it’s funny / When you ask for money / For things”.
The track arrived at a difficult time for The Beatles’ songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney. The session in which the song was recorded came during a fruitless spell, falling in-between ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and ‘Tell Me What You See’ in another selection of forgettable numbers.
Despite the poor lyrical quality by The Beatles’ high standards, they aren’t even the worst part of the track. George Harrison follows it up by delivering a solo which is nothing short of disastrous and, admittedly, somewhat unbelievable that it is him that is delivering such a monstrosity.
It’s alleged that The Beatles vowed to throw the track away almost the second they finished listening to the first take of the track. Speaking in Anthology, George Harrison said he’d forgotten about its existence: “We’ve just come across [‘If You’ve Got Trouble’],” George said per theBeatles Bible. “I’ve no recollection of ever recording it.”
Although he doesn’t discuss his own faux pax with the solo, the guitarist didn’t hold back in his assessment of the track: “It’s the most weird song… It’s got stupid words and is the naffest song,” he said. “No wonder it didn’t make it onto anything.”
During the Anthology project, Ringo, Paul and George finally shared a wealth of unreleased music such as ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ so you can decide for yourself whether Harrison’s assessment on the track was justified or not.
Over the years, even Ringo tried to distance himself from the track. Commenting years later, the drummer admitted that the song was never planned for a major role but it was unearthed in a retrospective look back on their work: “I recorded a song for the Help! album that was never released – ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’. George Martin found it in the vaults of EMI studios,” he explained.