What inspired the song Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter (song) - Helter Skelter (song)

This article is about a Beatles song. For other uses, see Helter Skelter.

" Helter Skelter "is a song by the English rock band The Beatles from their 1968 album The Beatles (also known as the "White Album"). It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon-McCartney. The song was McCartney's attempt to make a sound as loud and dirty as possible. It is seen as a major influencing factor for the early development of heavy metals. In 1976 the song was released as the B-side of "Got to Get You in My Life" in the USA for the Capitol Records compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music to promote.

Along with other tracks from the White Album, "Helter Skelter" was interpreted by cult leader Charles Manson as a message predicting a war between the races in the United States. Manson titled his vision of this uprising after the song. The Rolling Stone Magazine ranked "Helter Skelter" 52nd on its list of "100 Greatest Beatles Songs". Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, U2 and Oasis are among the artists who covered the track, and McCartney has performed it in concert many times.

Background and inspiration

Paul McCartney was inspired to write "Helter Skelter" after reading an interview with Who's Pete Townshend in which he described their September 1967 single "I Can See for Miles" as the loudest, roughest and dirtiest song ever. that Who had ever recorded. He said he then wrote "Helter Skelter" "to be the loudest voice, the loudest drums, etc." On November 20, 1968, two days before the publication of The Beatles (also known as " The White Album "), McCartney gave an exclusive interview to Radio Luxembourg in which he commented on some of the songs on the album. Speaking of" Helter Skelter ", he said:

Um, that only came about because I had read a review of a record that said, "And this group really drove us wild, it echoes everything, they scream their heads off." And I just remember thinking, "Oh, it would be great to do one. Too bad they did. Must be great - really screaming record." And then I listened to their record and it was pretty straight forward and very subtle. It wasn't harsh at all and screaming and tape echoing. So I thought, "Well, let's do this then." And I had this song called "Helter Skelter" which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it this way because I like noise.

In British English, a helter skelter is a fairground attraction that consists of a tall spiral slide that winds around a tower, but the term can also mean chaos and disorder. McCartney said he "used the symbol of a helter skelter as a top-to-bottom ride; the rise and fall of the Roman Empire - and that was the fall, the downfall." He later said the song was in response to critics accusing him of only writing sentimental ballads and being "the sloppy one" of the band. Although the song is attributed to the Lennon-McCartney partnership, it was written by McCartney alone. John Lennon admitted in a 1980 interview, "This is Paul Completely ."


The song is in the key of E major and 4/4 time signature. At the on The Beatles published recording, the structure consists of two combinations of verse and chorus, followed by an instrumental passage and a third combination of verse and chorus. This is followed by a longer ending in which the performance stops, resumes, fades out, fades in again, and then fades out one last time amid a cacophony of sounds. The stereo mix contains another section that fades in and closes the song.

The only chords used in the song are E7, G, and A, with the first of these played during the extended end. The musicologist Walter Everett comments on the musical form: "There is no dominant and little tonal function; organized noise is the task." The lyrics initially follow the fairground theme of the title from the opening line "When I'm at the bottom, I'll go back to the top of the slide". McCartney completes the first half verse with a roar, "and then I'll see you AGAIN!" The lyrics then become more suggestive and provocative, and the singer asks, "But do you want me to love you?" The description by the author Jonathan Gould states: "The song transforms the slang for a fairground ride into a metaphor for the kind of frenzied operatic sex that teenage boys of all ages love to dream of."


"Helter Skelter" was recorded several times during the sessions for the White album. During the July 18, 1968 session, the Beatles recorded 3 of the song, which lasted 27 minutes and 11 seconds, although this version is slower and very different from the album version. Chris Thomas produced the September 9th session in the absence of George Martin. He recalled that the session was particularly spirited: "While Paul was playing his voice, George Harrison lit an ashtray and was running over his head around the studio doing an Arthur Brown." Ringo Starr recalled: "'Helter Skelter' was a track we did in the studio in total madness and hysteria. Sometimes you just had to shake out the jams."

On September 9, 18 recordings were made, each lasting approximately five minutes, the last of which was on the original LP. At around 3:40 am the song fades out completely, then gradually fades in again, partially fades out again and finally fades in again quickly with three cymbal crashes and screams from Starr. At the end of the 18th take, he threw his drumsticks across the studio and yelled, "I've got blisters on my fingers!" Starr's reputation was only included in the song's stereo mix; The mono version (originally only on LP) ends the first time it fades out without a stiff outburst. On September 10, the band added overdubs, including a lead guitar part from Harrison, a trumpet from Mal Evans, piano, additional drums and "oral saxophone" from Lennon blowing through a saxophone mouthpiece.

According to music critic Tim Riley, although McCartney and Lennon had clearly diverged as songwriters during this period, the completed track can be viewed as a "competitive apposition" to Lennon's "Everyone has something to hide but me and my monkey". He says that while Lennon "sinks into catalogical contradictions" in his song, "Helter Skelter" "ignites a devastating, almost violent disorder". In Everett's view, the song "sounds more like an answer to [Yoko Ono]," the Japanese performance artist who was Lennon's new romantic partner in the White Album sessions and a constant source of tension within the band.

Approval and receipt

"Helter Skelter" was listed as the penultimate track on page three of the Beatles sequenced between "Sexy Sadie" and "Long, Long, Long". The transition from "Sexy Sadie" was a rare example of a gap (or "rill") used to separate the album's tracks, and the brief silence helped reinforce the song's abrupt arrival. In Riley's description, "the opening guitar figure destroys the silence ... from a lofty, penetrating standpoint", while at the end of "Helter Skelter" the meditative "Long, Long, Long" begins as "smoke and ashes" still settle in " The double LP was released on November 22, 1968 by Apple Records.

In his contemporary review for International times , Barry Miles described "Helter Skelter" as "probably the heaviest rockers on plastic today" while the NME Alan Smith found it 'little melody, but high on atmosphere' and 'frenetically sexual'. The pace is "so fast that they can all only keep up with themselves". The reviewer of Record Mirror said the track contained "screaming, tortured vocals, deafening buzz guitar, and general instrumental confusion, but [a] rather typical pattern" and concluded, "Ends like five thousand big electric flies for a good time. John [ sic ], then bursts out with excruciating agony: "I have blisters on my fingers!"

In his review too Rolling Stone Jann Wenner wrote that the Beatles had been wrongly overlooked as hard rock stylists and grouped the song with "Birthday" and "Everyone has something to hide except me and my monkey" as white album tracks that were recorded " The best of traditional and contemporary rock and roll elements ". He described "Helter Skelter" as "excellent" and highlighted its "guitar lines behind the title words, the rhythm guitar track that overlays the entire song with the exact fuzztone used, and Paul's beautiful voice". Geoffrey Cannon from The Guardian praised it as one of McCartney's "perfect, professional songs, jam-packed with exact quotes and characterizations" and recommended the stereo version for the way it "transforms the song from a nifty fast-paced number to one of my best" 30 tracks of all time " Although he misidentified it as a Lennon song, William Mann said of The Times "Helter Skelter" is "exhaustively wonderful, a revival that is wanted by creativity ... to the resurrection, a physical but essentially musical boost to the loins".

In June 1976, Capitol Records included the title in its themed double-album compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music on . In the US, the song was also released on the single promoting the album as the B-side of "Got to Get You in My Life". In 2012 "Helter Skelter" appeared on the iTunes compilation album Tomorrow Never Knows which has been described on the band's website as a collection of "The Beatles' Most Influential Rock Songs".

Charles Manson interpretation

Charles Manson told his followers that several White album songs, particularly "Helter Skelter," were part of the Beatles-coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be led to treat each other for treatment of Practically exterminating blacks. After the war ended, Manson and his "family" of followers would emerge from an underground city where they escaped conflict after black militants killed the few surviving whites. As the only remaining whites, they would rule the blacks who, according to the vision, would not be able to rule the United States. Manson used "helter skelter" as a term for this sequence of events. In his interpretation, the Beatles' lyrics of "Helter Skelter" described the moment when he and the family would emerge from their hiding place - a disused mine shaft in the desert outside of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led Manson's prosecution, and four of his supporters who acted on Manson's orders in the Tate LaBianca murders named his best-selling book on the murders Helter Skelter . At the scene of the LaBianca murders in August 1969, the sentence (misspelled as "HEALTER SKELTER") was found in the victims' blood on the refrigerator door. In October 1970, Manson's defense team announced they would ask Lennon for his testimony. Lennon replied that his comments were of no use since he had no hand writing "Helter Skelter".

Bugliosi's book was the basis for the television film Helter Skelter of 1976. The movie's popularity in the US ensured that the song, and the White Album in general, received a new wave of attention. As a result, Capitol planned to include "Helter Skelter" as the A-side of the single from Rock 'n' Roll Music but relented, realizing that it would be tasteless to take advantage of your association with Manson. In the last interview he gave before his murder in December 1980, Lennon dismissed Manson as "just an extreme version" of the type of listener who read false messages in the Beatles' lyrics, such as the one behind the rumor "Paul is dead" by 1969. Lennon also said, "All of the Manson stuff was built around George's song about pigs ['Piggies'] and that Paul song about an English fairground. It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all with me ."

McCartney considered "Helter Skelter" and its appropriation by the Manson family in his 1997 Authorized Biography " Many years from now "After:" Unfortunately it inspired people to do bad deeds "and that the song had" all sorts of threatening overtones "because Manson picked it up as a hymn". Author Devin McKinney describes the White Album as "also a black album" because it is "racially haunted". He writes that despite McCartney's comments on the song's meaning, the recording conveys a violent subtext that is typical of much of the album, and that "here, as always in Beatle music, the performance determines the meaning and the adrenalized guitars shake the meaning . " is simple, terrible, inarticulate and immediately understood: She comes down quickly. "In their 1979 collection of essays on the 1960s entitled The White Album Joan Didion wrote that many people in Los Angeles cite the moment when news of the Manson's family rampage in August 1969 marked the end of the decade. According to author Doyle Greene, the Beatles' "helter skelter" effectively captured the "crises of 1968", which was in stark contrast to the previous year's Summer of Love ethos. He adds: "While 'Revolution' posited an imminent unity in terms of social change, 'Helter Skelter' meant a chaotic and overwhelming sense of the breakup around the world, politically and not independently of the breakup of the Beatles as a working band and the counterculture dream they represented. "

Retrospect and Legacy

Christopher Scapelliti, editor of Guitar World, wrote for MusicHound in 1999 and grouped "Helter Skelter" with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" as the three "fascinating highlights" of the White Album. The song was best known for its "proto-metal roar" by AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the album's release, Jacob Stolworthy listed von The Independent the same three songs as his best tracks, with "Helter Skelter" ranking third. Describing it as “one of the best rock songs ever recorded”, Stolworthy concluded, “The fiercest, bubbly track that arguably paved the way for heavy metal is a far cry from the tame love songs the people of [McCartney ] were used to. " Ian Fortnam from Classic rock Magazine cited "Helter Skelter" in 2014 as one of the four songs that made the Beatles' White Album a "permanent blueprint for rock" along with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Yer Blues". and "Don't Pass Me By", in which they put together "all the important ingredients of rock". In the case of McCartney's song, he said the track was "one of the main precursors of heavy metal" and had a huge impact on punk rock of the 1970s.

Ian MacDonald dismissed "Helter Skelter" as "ridiculous," and McCartney screeched weedly against a massive backdrop of disgruntled thrashing, reproducing the required bulldozer design but on a dinky toy scale. "He added," Few have deemed appropriate to describe this track as something other than a literally drunken mess. "Rob Sheffield was also unfazed, and wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that after the double album was released on CD, "you can now program" Sexy Sadie "and" Long, Long, Long "without lifting the needle. Skip 'Helter Skelter'." David Quantick describes the song in his book Revolution: The Making of the Beatles' White Album as "neither loud enough to impress the listener nor inspired enough to be exciting". He says it "gets a bit boring after two minutes" and after his arduous attempts to get an end to it, Starr's final remark "only redeems" it.

Doyle Greene states that the Beatles and Manson are "permanently connected in pop culture consciousness" due to Manson's rendition of "Helter Skelter", "Piggies" and other tracks from the White Album. "Helter Skelter" was voted fourth worst song in one of the earliest polls to rate the Beatles songs published in 1971 by WPLJ and The Village Voice were performed . According to Walter Everett, it is one of the five most unpopular Beatles songs for members of the baby boomer generation who formed the band's contemporary audience in the 1960s.

In March 2005 the Q- "Helter Skelter" magazine ranks 5th on its list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks of All Time". The song appeared in at number 52 Rolling Stone 2010 list of "The 100 Greatest Beatles Songs". In 2018 Kerrang! voted it one of the "50 Most Evil Songs of All Time" due to its association with the Manson family murders.

Cover versions

As the producer of the 1976 film Helter Skelter the permission to use the Beatles recording was denied, the song was re-recorded by the band Silverspoon for the soundtrack. In 1978 Siouxsie and the Banshees took a cover of "Helter Skelter," produced by Steve Lillywhite, on their debut album The Scream on . Fortnam cites the band's choice as an expression of how the song's "macabre association with Charles Manson ... only served to emphasize its enduring appeal in certain areas". While Quantick discusses the stereo and mono versions of the Beatles recording from 1968 and the best-known cover versions of the track up to 2002, he highlights the Siouxsie and Banshees recordings as "the best of all". In an article on the legacy of the song, the commented Financial Times the Banshees version continued and said, "The abrupt end to 'Stop' also makes the listener mentally stuck on top of the slide with no way down."

Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars from Mötley Crüe (picture taken June 2005). The song had a big influence on the development of heavy metal.

1983 Mötley Crüe took the song in their album Shout at the Devil on . Nikki Sixx, the band's bassist, recalled that "Helter Skelter" spoke to them with its guitars and lyrics, but also because of the Manson murders and the song's reputation as a "real symbol of darkness and evil". Mötley Crüe's 1983 image CD for the song contained a photo of a refrigerator with the title Written in Blood. In the same year the Bobs released an a cappella version on their album The bobs . It earned them a 1984 Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices.

In 1988, a U2 recording was used as the opening track for their album Rattle and Hum used . The song was recorded live on November 8, 1987 at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. Bono introduced the song and said, "This is a song that Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealing it back." Aerosmith included a cover of "Helter Skelter", recorded in 1975, in their 1991 compilation Pandora's Box Compilation recorded. Aerosmith's version at number 21 on the Rock Tracks album chart in the United States.

Oasis recorded a cover of "Helter Skelter," which was released in 2000 as the B-side on their single, "Who Feels Love?" They also played the song on their world tour and promoted their fourth album in the early 2000s Standing on the Shoulder of Giants . A live version was on their live album Familiar to Millions added .

"Helter Skelter" has been covered by many other artists, including Pat Benatar, Vow Wow, Hüsker Dü, Dianne Heatherington and Thrice. Shock rock band Rob Zombie worked with Marilyn Manson on a cover of "Helter Skelter," which was released in 2018 to promote their co-headliner, "Twins of Evil: The Second Coming Tour". Their version peaked at number nine Billboard Hard Rock Digital songs.

McCartney live performances

Since 2004 McCartney has performed "Helter Skelter" frequently in concert. The song was in the set lists for his '04 Summer Tour, the 'US' Tour (2005), Summer Live '09 (2009), the Good Evening Europe Tour (2009), the Up and Coming Tour (2010– 11) listed. and the On the Run Tour (2011-12). He also played it on his Out There Tour, which began in May 2013. On recent tours, the song was usually added on the third encore, which is the last time the band will take the stage. It is usually the penultimate song performed after "Yesterday" and before the final medley including "The End". McCartney played the song on his One on One tour at Fenway Park on July 17, 2016 accompanied by the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and New England Patriots football player Rob Gronkowski.

McCartney played the song live at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2006 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In 2009 he played it live at the Ed Sullivan Theater during his appearance in the Late Show with David Letterman .

At the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011, the version of the song from McCartney's live album won Good Evening New York City , recorded during the Summer Live '09 tour, in the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance category. It was his first solo Grammy award since winning 1972 for arranging "Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey". McCartney opened his set on 12/12/12: The concert for Sandy Relief with the song. On July 13, 2019, the last date of his Freshen Up tour, McCartney played "Helter Skelter" at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with Starr playing the drums.


According to Mark Lewisohn and Walter Everett:




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