- Published on 1965
- Author: Morrison/Russell
- Track 8 on “Help!“
Table of Contents
About “Act Naturally”
“Act Naturally”, written by Johnny Russell, with a writing credit given to Voni Morrison, tells the tale of someone who has been jilted and, because of that, can play a film part of someone sad and lonely without knowing anything about acting.
The Beatles’ version of “Act Naturally” is sung by Ringo Starr. They performed the song during an The Ed Sullivan Show appearance which was taped on August 14, 1965 and broadcast on September 12, 1965.
The Beatles recorded the song on June 17, 1965 in 13 takes. The first 12 takes were evidently used to work out the arrangement; the master was take 13, the only take with vocals. It was mixed the following day. The Beatles almost recorded a song by their engineer Norman Smith, but realized that Ringo didn’t yet have a vocal on Help! and so “Act Naturally” was recorded instead, the last cover they recorded until the Get Back/Let It Be sessions in 1969.
Because Capitol Records’ version of the Help! album included only the songs that appeared in the movie, plus incidental music from the film, the label held back “Yesterday” and “Act Naturally” and issued them initially as a non-LP single. As the B-side of the U.S. single, “Act Naturally” peaked at #47 in October 1965. The two songs made their first American album appearance on Yesterday and Today, released in the U.S. on June 20, 1966.
When the single was reissued on Apple Records in 1971, “Act Naturally” had the “full apple” side and “Yesterday” ended up on the “sliced apple” side. That is because “Act Naturally” was the intended A-side and has always been listed as such in Capitol’s files.
Meaning of “Act Naturally”
“Act Naturally” can be interpreted as a humorous take on heartbreak and the desire to put on a brave face in front of others. In the song, the narrator has just experienced a romantic disappointment, but he tries to act as if everything is fine. He’s putting on a performance of being nonchalant and carefree, even though he’s actually feeling quite down.
The phrase “act naturally” itself is a bit of an oxymoron – it’s an instruction to pretend, but to do it in a way that looks uncontrived and genuine. “Act Naturally” is a fun, country-flavored tune that provides a bit of comic relief in the midst of the deeper emotional themes present on the Help! album.
- Ringo Starr – lead vocal, drums, sticks
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
- George Harrison – double-tracked lead guitar, acoustic guitar
How to play “Act Naturally” on lead guitar
George Harrison’s lead guitar part in “Act Naturally” is played using a combination of single notes and double stops (playing two notes simultaneously).
The following video shows how to play the lead guitar part of “Act Naturally”:
How to play “Act Naturally” on bass
“Act Naturally” is a classic country song with a simple yet effective bassline. It essentially follows a simple walking pattern, moving through the notes of each chord in a rhythmic fashion. The timing and groove are crucial for capturing the feel of the song.
The following video shows how to play the bassline for this song:
“Act Naturally” karaoke
Here is the karaoke version of “Act Naturally” to try singing it: