SONG TITLE: HELTER SKELTER

PERFORMER: THE BEATLES

SONGWRITER: LENNON / MCCARTNEY

YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968

COMMENTS: The overriding emotional message of this song is throbbing, hallucinogenic Dionysian brutality. The lyrics may nominally be about a playground see-saw, but there is no mistaking the impact of the music. From the rapid dissonant guitar chords that start the record, to the final Vietnam inspired shout about "blisters," this is violent emotional territory.

 

Before events put a permanent spin on public perception of the song, it started out to be a parody/tribute to Jimi Hendrix. You can hear the stylistic similarity between this and, say, "Manic Depression" or "Purple Haze." Indeed, the Cosmic Bad Trip Blues flavor of the Are You Experienced? album runs through a lot of songs from the White Album (for example "Yer Blues" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun").

 

Explaining the math is beyond my grasp, but these records all involve controlled discord. There is dissonance, but it is not just random disharmony. The harmonic dislocation is real precise, logical discord, if you will.

 

People sometimes say things about how bad it was of Manson to try to attach himself to the Beatles reputation, but I don't know. It is a significant (even if perverted) tribute to their artistic power. At the cusp of unleashing his nightmarish violence, Manson found inspiration not with Mick Jagger's devil acting, but in the pop music songwriting of Paul McCartney.

 

Not to carry on with a lot of philosophy major stuff at great length, but the abolition of rules and ecstatic transcendence that is at the basis of rock movement liberation comes with a price of hazard. Turning the id loose to run chaotic can loose violent and antisocial things as well as the things you do want to release. Homework assignment: the play "The Bacchants" by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides, which is about a cult of worshippers of Dionysus.

 

I don't know how much Greek literature Paul McCartney and John Lennon read, but this song and much of their 1968 output indicates that they got the basic point.

The Beatles around a large mirror

BEATLES PICTURE COLLECTION - 100 pages PAGE  1 PAGE  2 PAGE  3 PAGE  4 PAGE  5 PAGE  6 PAGE  7 PAGE  8 PAGE  9 PAGE 10 PAGE 11 PAGE 12 PAGE 13 PAGE 14 PAGE 15 PAGE 16 PAGE 17 PAGE 18 PAGE 19 PAGE 20 PAGE 21 PAGE 22 PAGE 23 PAGE 24 PAGE 25 PAGE 26 PAGE 27 PAGE 28 PAGE 29 PAGE 30 PAGE 31 PAGE 32 PAGE 33 PAGE 34 PAGE 35 PAGE 36 PAGE 37 PAGE 38 PAGE 39 PAGE 40 PAGE 41 PAGE 42 PAGE 43 PAGE 44 PAGE 45 PAGE 46 PAGE 47 PAGE 48 PAGE 49 PAGE 50 PAGE 51 PAGE 52 PAGE 53 PAGE 54 PAGE 55 PAGE 56 PAGE 57 PAGE 58 PAGE 59 PAGE 60 PAGE 61 PAGE 62 PAGE 63 PAGE 64 PAGE 65 PAGE 66 PAGE 67 PAGE 68 PAGE 69 PAGE 70 PAGE 71 PAGE 72 PAGE 73 PAGE 74 PAGE 75 PAGE 76 PAGE 77 PAGE 78 PAGE 79 PAGE 80 PAGE 81 PAGE 82 PAGE 83 PAGE 84 PAGE 85 PAGE 86 PAGE 87 PAGE 88 PAGE 89 PAGE 90 PAGE 91 PAGE 92 PAGE 93 PAGE 94 PAGE 95 PAGE 96 PAGE 97 PAGE 98 PAGE 99 PAGE 100

 

   

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