Beatles – Helter Skelter

This is my tenth and last song pick for Hanspostcard’s song draft. The Beatles Helter Skelter.

I want to thank Hans for hosting this draft and having me as one of the participants. Thanks everyone for the great songs. A Beatles song had to be in play in the draft for me. I didn’t pick my favorite Beatles song, but one that scared the hell out of me as a kid. This song gave me the creeps because it was so loud. That was before I saw the Manson TV movie.

Now, the sheer energy of it gets me every time. In 1964 they gave us I Want To Hold Your Hand and four years later we hear Helter Skelter…that is growing and versatility. This song was by the band I most admire and it was influenced by another band I admire…The Who…sort of.

The origin of the song…I’ll turn it over to Paul: “I was in Scotland and I read in Melody Maker that Pete Townshend had said: ‘We’ve just made the raunchiest, loudest, most ridiculous rock’n’roll record you’ve ever heard.’ I never actually found out what track it was that The Who had made, but that got me going, just hearing him talk about it. So I said to the guys, ‘I think we should do a song like that; something really wild.’ And I wrote ‘Helter Skelter.’”

The track that Townshend was talking is thought to be I Can See For Miles. Paul took the description and ran with it. Paul and George played the guitars while John played a six string bass…Mr blisters on his fingers played drums.

I’ve played this song at the different places I’ve worked (on cassette and computer) and I get inquiries…who is that? When I tell them who…they don’t believe me at first. A reply that I have got is… no that is NOT The Beatles…that is just not them. This is why I love the Beatles. They covered genres well.

The song has picked up evil vibes along the way because of Manson grabbing the title for his awful deeds. Some have said it was the first Heavy Metal song, but I don’t hear that. I do think it was a cog in the machine and influenced the harder bands though.

I’ve heard so many bands try to cover this song…even down to heavier bands and none match the intensity and energy of this recording. The secret is the punk rawness with it’s jagged edges showing. The only cover I like is U2’s live version on Rattle and Hum because it helped the song regain it’s reputation back and take it from Manson’s grasp to a then modern audience.

I’ve played this song with a band a few times and that little riff is so powerful and so much fun to play. I told the rest of the band…no distortion boxes…no processing…just pure loud overdrive (turn it up to 11 and beyond)…and it works.

The White Album…another reason I love it…you have Blackbird, Rocky Racoon, Dear Prudence, and Helter Skelter on the same album. The album is the very definition of eclectic.

Thank you all again for the songs.

Helter Skelter

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, 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
Well, 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 the answer
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
And I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again, yeah, yeah

Well do you, don’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 your answer
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
Coming down fast

(I’ve got blisters on my fingers)

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

33 thoughts on “Beatles – Helter Skelter”

  1. Great pick Max! You’re right really shows their versatility. I first heard of it thru the Manson connection but read somewhere that shelter Skelter is really (or was) a roller coaster in England. Is that right

    Liked by 3 people

  2. like I said on the other site, a very different kind of song from them that could easily be assumed NOT to be them by many people. My odd personal take or memory of it is that my Mom liked it somewhat… which was weird because even though she did like the Beatles a lot, she hated almost anything that would be described as hard rock or metal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been reading about this song and some say again…Heavy Metal…and some say one of the first punk songs. The funny thing is he took what Townshend said and made it true…because I Can See For Miles is not like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t hear much connection between the two either… ‘I Can See For Miles is one of my three or four favorite Who songs , btw.

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  3. Brilliant post! I love Helter Skelter. Always have, though, yes, there was one time when I got stoned in the control room of the college radio station (Thai Stick) and put on Helter Skelter and got some very bad, very scary vibes from the song. But, come on people, it’s about a giant slide…that’s what Helter Skelter is/was…it’s not devilish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pam…When I was around 9 and listening to this in headphones…I was like…whoa…and then the Manson TV movie….after a little bit after that I thought…wow what a great rock song. I like the song because it sounds like they are going to fly off the tracks but they pull it back in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a perfect rocker. It has influenced so many great bands–mainstream, punk, heavy metal, hard rock, glam…I really think it’s one of their masterpieces. I don’t know if you are aware, they have a several of those…Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. LOL just a few! It did touch on all of those. I was reading where some consider it one of the first real punk records…at least the tone was there. They crossed a lot of boundaries.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great record and i like playing it loud for the benefit of non beatles fans who find them too lightweight. I prefer not giving name checks to murderers looking for fame and ignomy so lets just say deranged evil wasters incapable of empathy seem attracted to The Beatles fame because they havent the ability to do anything positive with their sad lives. So the best thing to do is remove the fame and refer to them as “a nutter”.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Lennon played bass lol. It has dark undertones…yea this is harder than many songs considered that.
        Now…Black Sabbath was considered Heavy Metal…Paranoid…this is just as heavy.

        I talked to someone before….forgot his name…what is heavy metal who is not. It’s VERY up to the person listening. Helter Skelter is also considered Punk lol.

        Some people call it Heavy Metal, some Punk, some Hard Rock…Heavy Metal is HARD to classify. There is no pattern. Early Black Sabbath? This? Or is just in the 80s? See what I mean?

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      2. One guy described Heavy Metal as dark overtones…well this one fits if that is the case. Another person said it was the singer…others the guitar…
        Personally I think it’s about a loud guitar

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      3. That is what I’m tlaking about. I think people choose it more on who the artist is…and that is not a way to do it. Hell ABBA could do one if they wanted lol.

        Like

  5. Nice way to end your picks for the song draft, Max. “Helter Skelter” certainly is quite different from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or “A Hard Day’s Night”, and I guess it took me a few times before I liked the tune. Now I absolutely love it. The intensity is just great. I also agree U2 did a fine job with their live cover on the “Rattle and Hum” album.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They did…it’s not as raw as the Beatles but they got the song back in circulation…what I meant in the write up is heavier bands that covered it…wasn’t as heavy as The Beatles.

      Like

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