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Helter Skelter

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"Helter Skelter"
Song by The Beatles
Album The Beatles (The White Album)
Released 22 November 1968 (UK)
25 November 1968 (US)
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
9 September 1968
Genre hard rock
Length 4:30 (Stereo LP)
3:38 (Mono LP)
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles (The White Album) track listing

Side one

  1. "Back in the U.S.S.R."
  2. "Dear Prudence"
  3. "Glass Onion"
  4. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
  5. "Wild Honey Pie"
  6. "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"
  7. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
  8. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"

Side two

  1. "Martha My Dear"
  2. "I'm So Tired"
  3. "Blackbird"
  4. "Piggies"
  5. "Rocky Raccoon"
  6. "Don't Pass Me By"
  7. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
  8. "I Will"
  9. "Julia"

Side three

  1. "Birthday"
  2. "Yer Blues"
  3. "Mother Nature's Son"
  4. "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
  5. "Sexy Sadie"
  6. "Helter Skelter"
  7. "Long, Long, Long"

Side four

  1. "Revolution 1"
  2. "Honey Pie"
  3. "Savoy Truffle"
  4. "Cry Baby Cry"
  5. "Revolution 9"
  6. "Good Night"
“Helter Skelter”
Single by The Beatles
A-side Got To Get You Into My Life
Released 31 May 1976 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Label Capitol 4274 (US)
Producer George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"The Long and Winding Road" / "For You Blue"
"Got to Get You into My Life"
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"


Umm, that came about just 'cuz I'd read a review of a record which said, "And this group really got us wild, there's echo on everything, they're screaming their heads off." And I just remember thinking, "Oh, it'd be great to do one. Pity they've done it. Must be great--really screaming record." And then I heard their record and it was quite straight and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn't rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, "Oh, well, we'll do one like that, then." And I had this song called "Helter Skelter", which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that 'cuz I like noise.

Paul McCartney, 1968

Helter Skelter means confusion. Literally. It doesn't mean any war with anyone. It doesn't mean that those people are going to kill other people. It only means what it means. Helter Skelter is confusion. Confusion is coming down fast. If you don't see the confusion coming down fast, you can call it what you wish. It's not my conspiracy. It is not my music. I hear what it relates. It says, 'Rise!' It says 'Kill!' Why blame it on me? I didn't write the music. I am not the person who projected it into your social consciousness.

Charles Manson, 1970

Charles Manson, on trial for mass-murder, 1970

We used to have a laugh about this, that or the other, in a light-hearted way, and some intellectual would read us, some symbolic youth generation wants to see something in it. We also took seriously some parts of the role, but I don't know what Helter Skelter has to do with knifing someone. I've never listened to it properly, it was just a noise.

John Lennon, Rolling Stone, 1970

That's Paul completely. All that [Charles] Manson stuff was built 'round George's song about pigs and this one... Paul's song about an English fairground. It has nothing to do with anything and, least of all, to do with me.

John Lennon, 1980

The Who had made some track that was the loudest, the most raucous rock 'n' roll, the dirtiest thing they'd ever done. It made me think, "Right. Got to do it." I like that kind of geeking up. And we decided to do the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could.

Paul McCartney, 1985

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.

You can hear the voices cracking, and we played it so long and so often that by the end of it you can hear Ringo saying,'I've got blisters on my fingers'. We just tried to get it louder: 'Can't we make the drums sound louder?' That was really all I wanted to do - to make a very loud, raunchy rock 'n' roll record with The Beatles. And I think it's a pretty good one.

Paul McCartney, Anthology

Charles Manson interpreted that Helter Skelter was something to to with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I still don't know what all that stuff is; it's from the Bible, Revelation - I haven't read it so I wouldn't know. But he interpreted the whole thing - that we were the four horsemen, Helter Skelter was the song - and arrived at having to go out and kill everyone.

Paul McCartney, Anthology

I was using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom - the rise and fall of the Roman Empire - and this was the fall, the demise, the going down. You could have thought of it as a rather cute title but it's since taken on all sorts of ominous overtones because Manson picked it up as an anthem, and since then quite a few punk bands have done it because it is a raunchy rocker.

Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles


Paul McCartney: vocals, lead guitar, bass
John Lennon: backing vocals, lead guitar, bass, tenor saxophone
George Harrison: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Ringo Starr: drums
Mal Evans: trumpet

See also

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