Playing pop and rock songs on piano can be fun, but sometimes we find that the right approach eludes us. (Incidentally, by “right approach,” I mean the right approach for each of us individually.)
I’ve loved The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” since the very first time I listened to the Sgt. Pepper album, back in my teenage days. Yet it took me until not to find a way of playing it on piano that I liked.
There are two famous recordings of the song, the original recording by The Beatles and the slow, gospel-blues rendition by Joe Cocker. My big challenge was that while I loved the way The Beatles played the song, I wanted to “bluesify” it a little when creating my own piano interpretations of the song. And while I enjoy playing in the style of the Joe Cocker version, I personally don’t think it fits the song the way I want to play it on piano.
So… what to do?
When I was deciding how to play “With A Little Help From My Friends” for my Complete Beatles Piano video series on YouTube, the answer suddenly and unexpectedly came to me:
I can keep the Beatles’ overall tempo and musical “feel,” while bringing a little bit of the blues into it. Wow – why hadn’t I ever thought of this before? It seems so obvious in retrospect, but this interpretation had eluded me for decades.
To sum up, we can play “With A Little Help From My Friends” the way The Beatles did, the way Joe Cocker did, or by combining The Beatles’ fun, bouncy groove with a little of Cocker’s gospel and bluesiness.
Check out how I played it here, and then give it a try yourself:
With A Little Help From My Friends: Complete Beatles Piano #18
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”