Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Did the Beatles Think of Charles Manson?

The Beatles were no doubt shocked to learn of Manson's "barmy" interpretations of songs from the White Album that in some way inspired the Manson Family murders in 1969. His interpretations were so out of whack that he not only heard subliminal messages about an impending race war, but also the wrong lyrics (he misheard Lennon's warbling of "riiiight" in "Revolution 9" as "rise"). The only Beatle known to have spoken on this subject at length was John Lennon, in an interview to Rolling Stone in 1970:

"I don't know what I thought when it happened. I just think a lot of the things he says are true, that he's a child of the state made by us. And he took their children in when nobody else would, is what he did. But of course he's cracked, alright."

What were your feelings when he quoted "Helter Skelter"?

"Well he's barmy. He's like any other Beatle kind of fan who reads mysticism into it. I mean we used to have a laugh--put in this, that or the other in a light-hearted way, that some intellectual would read as some symbolic youth generation whatsit. But we also took seriously some parts of the role. But I don't know what's "Helter Skelter" got to do with knifin' somebody, you know? I've never listened to the words properly, "Helter Skelter," which is sort of a noise."

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