“Help!” by The Beatles (1965)/”Helter Skelter” by The Beatles (1968)

This list only has one song standing in between “Help!” and “Helter Skelter”, so I’m just gonna go ahead and lump the two Beatles songs together.

There’s not much I can say about “Help!” that I didn’t say in the “Hello, Goodbye” post. “Help!” was the second of the five Beatles movies and I vaguely remember seeing it one night maybe fifteen years ago thanks to my Epinions friend Brian, who traveled down from Boston to spend the weekend with me in New York. We were joined by a third Epinions friend, who came from Philadelphia and whose name I embarrassingly don’t remember. The things I remember from that visit were a) I was in the middle of being stalked/harassed by my downstairs neighbor, and usually the only reprieve I got was when I had company. So I was glad to have them over. b) Brian and friend whose name I don’t remember spent a solid chunk of the time cuddled up in my bed (I slept on the floor) and c) I was mortified when Brian cut on the bathroom light and a cockroach skittered across the wall. Although I was living in The Bronx at the time and I was also kind of a slob. Anyway, he brought “Help!” on DVD, I don’t remember much about it (I’m fairly positive that the plot was threadbare), and the theme song is still pretty damn good in the peppy, tuneful way that a lot of Beatles songs are, even though the lyrical content (provided by John Lennon in this case) isn’t the most peppy.

“Helter Skelter” is the more interesting track, for sure. It’s a Paul-led number that, while certainly tuneful, is a bit more dissonant and loud than your average Beatles song. Actually, “Helter Skelter” is damn near metal. Or, I guess you could call the song proto-metal, since the term “heavy metal” hadn’t been invented yet. It’s foreboding, and as a kid it felt almost uncomfortable to listen to, even though at the time I was unaware of its post-release adoption by Charles Manson that I’m not gonna go into any further because it’s gross and he’s gross. You can fairly easily connect the dots (musically) from “Helter Skelter” to, say, “Iron Man”. I don’t know if Ozzy could ever scream like Paul did on this song, though. Nice Guy McCartney shreds his vocal cords on this one.

Bonus points for the multiple false endings, and Ringo screaming “I’ve got blisters on me fingers!” at the end, followed by what I assume is a cymbal clanging to the floor. So metal.

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