Sunday 4 June 2023


John Lennon said the Manson Family was inspired by two songs from The Beatles‘ The White Album. He said one of the songs had “nothing to do with anything.” In addition, he revealed he helped write the other song.

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono includes an interview from 1980. In it, John was asked about The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” “That’s Paul completely,” he said.

John said “Helter Skelter” and a George Harrison-penned song, “Piggies,” were important to the Manson Family. “All that Manson stuff was built ’round George’s song about pigs and this one, Paul’s song about an English fairground,” he said. “It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me. I gave George a couple of lines about forks and knives and eating bacon.” For context, “helter skelter” is an English term for a spiral slide.

As John said, Manson latched onto “Helter Skelter” and “Piggies.” Like numerous other cult leaders, Manson believed an apocalypse was on the horizon. According to Rolling Stone, he felt “Helter Skelter” was about the coming chaos. Manson felt “Helter Skelter” connected to “Piggies.”

“Piggies” is a comedic attack on the upper class. It’s one of the most prominent examples of dark humor in The Beatles’ music, as it claims rich people deserve “a damn good whacking.” In Manson’s view, the track was about impending violence against the establishment. Members of the Manson Family wrote “pig” and “death to pigs” in blood in the homes of their victims, apparently referring to the song. Notably, Manson heard pig noises in both “Piggies” and another White Album track: “Revolution 9.”

In All We Are Saying, John dismissed Manson’s interpretations of Beatles lyrics. “It has nothing to do with me,” he said. “It’s like that guy, Son of Sam, who was having these talks with a dog.” For context, the “Son of Sam” was the alias of David Berkowitz, a serial killer who claimed to be under the influence of a demonic dog. Like Manson, Berkowitz became a pseudo-celebrity among people interested in true crime.

Subsequently, John compared Manson to some of The Beatles’ conspiracy-minded fans. “Manson was just an extreme version of the people who came up with the ‘Paul is dead’ thing or who figured out that the initials to ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ were LSD,” he opined.

“Helter Skelter” and “Piggies” are classic songs even if they played a role in some of the most notorious murders of the 1960s.

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