O Me of Little Faith

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Wonder Years. For a variety of reasons, one of which may or may not have involved having a crush on Winnie Cooper. One of the things I always loved about the show was the opening song. It was Joe Cocker’s live performance (at Woodstock, natch) of the Beatles’ hit “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Everyone, sing it with me:

What would you do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song.
I will try not to sing out of key…

And other than the few snippets of chorus that rounded out the theme song on the show, those first lines were all I’d ever heard of Cocker’s performance. I knew the Beatles’ recording of the song, of course, but had never heard the full, live version. Until just the other day.

And that’s probably a good thing, because the lyrics above are pretty much the only words you can understand when Cocker sings it. Seriously. Dude’s pretty gravel-voiced anyway, but his singing at Woodstock is so garbled as to be savant-like. Either he was completely stoned at the time (odds are good) or he filled his mouth with marbles right before hitting the stage, thinking they were mushrooms (a possibility), or he sang the entire song with a live gerbil tied to his tongue (probably not).

Anyway, all of this is just to introduce the following YouTube clip, which is the complete performance of Joe Cocker singing the Wonder Years theme song at Woodstock. And hilariously, it includes fun captioning to help you decipher his sweaty, gerbil-laced grunting. As with most of the good stuff on YouTube, I’m pretty late to the party, but I laughed a LOT when I first watched this.

Something else to watch for: You know how dorky the air guitar looks when you’re sober? It looks even worse when you’re stoned. Far, far worse. Frightening, even. At times, Cocker seems to be a few fried neurons away from an outright seizure.

May your day be filled with almond love.

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