The Beatles played mostly sugary upbeat pop songs. They have at least three songs about good mornings1. They sang that “All You Need is Love” and “Octopus’s Garden” and “Yellow Submarine”. The whole band spent time in India getting in tune with their spiritual sides. John went on to “imagine all the people living life in peace” while Paul sang “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder.
All that’s true. And so is the fact that they had a creepy obsession with violence against women and serial killers. It all started in 1965 with Rubber Soul’s final track: “Run for Your Life”. I’ll lyrics speak for themselves:
Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl Than to be with another man You better keep your head, little girl Or I won't know where I am You better run for your life if you can, little girl Hide your head in the sand little girl Catch you with another man That's the end'a little girl
They followed this in 1967 with Sgt. Pepper’s “Getting Better”. I loved this song when I was a kid and thought nothing of these lines:
I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved Man, I was mean but I'm changing my scene And I'm doing the best that I can (ooh)
Unfortunately, things were not getting better. In 1968 the Beatles released the White Album which was full of songs that went on to inspire renowned serial killer Charles Manson. The lyrics to Manson’s favorite song (“Helter Skelter”) are a little opaque (e.g., “When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide”) but Manson sure knew what they meant.
And finally, on the last album they recorded together (Abbey Road), the Beatles transparently glamourized a serial killer named Maxwell Edison who by the end of the song bludgeons to death two women and a male magistrate:
Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer Came down upon his head Bang, bang, Maxwell's silver hammer Made sure that he was dead
The Beatles were an incredibly talented and versatile band. They’ve inspired countless musicians over the years. Perhaps it’s time to give them credit for inspiring some 1990’s sicko metal (and nü-metal) bands like Slayer and Korn too.
Revolver’s “Good Day Sunshine”, Sgt. Pepper’s “Good Morning”, and Abbey Road’s “Here Comes the Sun”.↩