Thursday, February 09, 2006

Helter Skelter


A friend at work asked me, "Did you see McCartney last night?"

I just shrugged and gave her a friendly look because I've told her a hundred times that I don't have television, but she always forgets.

Anyway, she said, he was on the Grammys last night and he really rocked. He sang "Helter Skelter."

Then we talked about that song--how all we know about it is that Charles Manson got messages from it and they named the Manson book and the Manson movie after it. I have heard the White Album, of course, but I don't own it and I don't know what the song is about.

So I pulled up the trusty Wikipedia site and learned that a "helter skelter" is a kind of slide found in children's playgrounds in England, a spiral slide in an enclosed space, very thrilling for children. Paul had vivid memories of his childhood and often used them in his writing.

It appears that Paul was being competitive with "Helter Skelter," trying to write a very loud and cacophonous piece that would simulate (or stimulate) a psychedelic state. Being the talented artist that he is, he succeeded in creating something that had a major impact on the contemporary music culture.

Unfortunately, it was hijacked by Manson. But the words of the song do not support any kind of evil interpretation.

Manson should have used "Sympathy for the Devil" as his theme song instead.

Here are the lyrics:

[Recorded by The Beatles - 1968]

Helter Skelter
by Lennon/McCartney

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Do you, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you
Tell me, tell me, tell me
Come on tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer
Helter skelter, helter skelter, helter skelter
Will you, won't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer
Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter, helter skelter
Look out, cause here she comes
When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again
Well do you, don't you want me to make you
Tell me, tell me, tell me
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer
Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter, helter skelter
Look out helter skelter
She's coming down fast
Yes she is
Yes she is.

2 comments:

yellojkt said...

Helter Skelter is playground equipment! Now it all makes sense. All these years I thought it was just more LSD induced gibberish. Not that the two explanations are mutually exclusive.

CagedRabbit said...

McCartney did a great rendition of Helter Skelter. He was doing that song in his concerts last year, and it was so good - and featured a roller coaster in the background. It was never one of my favorite songs, especially because of the Manson connection, which was so creepy (and I lived through the horror of that - the hippy culture gone so terribly bad). U2 covered the song many years ago, with Bono saying - here's a song Charlie Manson stole from the Beatles - we're stealing it back. That helped me appreciate it. McCartney and U2 were the highlights of the Grammys for me this year - along with a brief sighting of Jack Bruce.