Thought this was a cool article on the song. I can't believe "I Can See For Miles" was the song that was supposed to be so loud! It's actually kinda mellow for a Who song! Bono's statement cracks me up. This is a very cool song. I have to listen to the Helther now.
This article is about the Beatles song. For other things with this name, see Helter Skelter (disambiguation).
"Helter Skelter" is the title of a song by Paul McCartney (though credited to Lennon/McCartney) recorded by the Beatles on their 1968 self-titled album, also known as The White Album. For a brief time, the working lyric of the song was "Heather Leather", and the pronunciation varies throughout the song. Careful listening reveals that McCartney never sings "helter skelter" but always "helther" with th, and pronounces "skelter" 4 times, but also unmistakingly twice says "leather."
McCartney got the idea for the song after reading a newspaper review of the Who's latest single, most likely "I Can See For Miles." The review described the single as the loudest, wildest song ever recorded with distorted guitars, tons of reverb, and screaming. McCartney took it as a challenge to write something louder. "Helter Skelter" was the result. Some feel that this song was a key influence in the creation of the heavy metal music subgenre.
Musically, the song is, indeed, loud: the song opens suddenly with a repeated, distorted guitar chord; McCartney's screamed vocal comes in quickly with the introductory lyric and the full band joins in as the first instance of the refrain occurs. The tone of the song is aggressive and frightening; the music seems ready to veer out of control at any moment. The lyrics of the song are a somewhat hallucinogenic evocation of activity on a children's playground, providing an ironic contrast to the tone of the music.
In December 1968, Charles Manson heard this song, and others from the White Album, and interpreted them as a warning of an approaching racial conflict. In Manson's mind, the Beatles were the four angels mentioned in the New Testament book of Revelation. He believed the Beatles songs were telling him and his followers to prepare for the coming holocaust. Manson referred to this future uprising as "Helter Skelter". The words "Healter Skelter" [sic] were also written in blood at the scene of one of the Manson Family murders.
Because of this connection, Los Angeles assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led the prosecution of Manson and the other killers, named his best selling book about the murders Helter Skelter. Bugliosi's book was the basis for a film of the same title.
During the July 18, 1968 sessions, a version of the song clocking in at 27 minutes and 11 seconds was recorded, although this version is rather slow and hypnotic, differing greatly from the cacophany of raw volume of the album version. Another recording from the same day was edited down to 4:37 for inclusion on The Beatles Anthology, Volume III. For the album version, recorded on September 9, twenty-one takes of approximately five minutes were recorded, and the last one is featured on the official LP. The sheer intensity of these takes was so high that Ringo's shout of "I've got blisters on my fingers!" accompanies the musical fadeout.
In 1988, rock band U2 recorded the song in concert for their Rattle and Hum movie and album. Bono's introduction to the song was "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealing it back."
For Oasis' 4th album