The Beatles, “Helter Skelter”

[at 1:45]

Many people consider The Beatles synonymous with the Hippie Movement. While this is not necessarily an incorrect assumption, The Beatles were often self-reflective and critical of the counter-culture. Their song “Revolution” very forwardly criticizes destructiveness and hypocrisy within the movement. However, a more stealthy criticism of hippieism can be interpreted in their White Album rock rant “Helter Skelter.”

Do you 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
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

Its furious tempo, at times similar to Lou Reed’s later “Heroin,” propels the listener through a journey of sheer madness and power. This song appears in Across the Universe, a beautiful film about the sixties whose story is told through the music of The Beatles, right as the idealism and beauty of the movement is crumbling. It seems that this lyric, “You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer” is calling to the hippies, saying you may preach love but what are you DOING about it.

*

When I left for college one of my mom’s friends asked what she missed about me being in the house; she said, “Beatles in the morning.”

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know a Beatles song. As far back as I can remember they have been a part of me.

My love for The Beatles is different from my love for Indian food or my love for drinking coffee alone in the early morning. These are solely physical loves that bring sensory pleasures. I am in love, deeply and eternally, with The Beatles. They are my family. They’ve given me advice—helped me through breakups and deaths of friends.

When I’ve held onto pain they’ve told me to “let it be.” When I felt small, broken and sad, they told me to “take these broken wings and learn to fly.” They told me it was okay if I felt too sad to get up and walk, I could just fly instead.

And now, coming to a transition point in my life, terrified of what the “grown up” world holds, they tell me: “All your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”

—Laney Lenox