Helter Skelter
by U2

Album: Rattle And Hum (1988)
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Songfacts®:

  • This is a cover of the 1968 Beatles song. U2 recorded it live at McNichols arena in Denver on November 8, 1987.
  • Helter Skelter represented how they felt towards the end of their Joshua Tree tour. The demands of the film crews following them for the Rattle And Hum documentary and the rigors of the tour were wearing them down.
  • Bono introduced this by saying: "This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles, well we're stealin' it back." Charles Manson's followers wrote "Helter Skelter" in blood when they killed Sharon Tate and her friends. He interpreted the title as being about an imminent race war and apocalypse. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Christopher - Greenfield Center, NY
  • In 1989, U2's song "Exit" was cited by stalker Robert John Bardo as inciting him to kill actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Charles Manson had claimed "Helter Skelter" as an influence on his killing spree.
  • This appears in the black-and-white sequence of the movie Rattle And Hum.

Comments: 18

  • Robert Campion from Galway, IrelandIn March 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine voted Helter Skelter by U2 to be the best Beatles cover ever.
  • Rich from El Segundo, CaI recall there are 3 hits that have british playground rides for titles, but I can only remember 2 right now. Helter Skelter, which is the generic term for a slide (not to take away from John from Woburn's take-I'm sure he's right), and Roundabout from Yes, which is their term for a merry-go-round. Can anyone remember the 3rd?
  • Mark from Austin, TxI don't think U2 were trying to "improve" the song. Bono fully admits that he's no good at covers because he forgets the lyrics all the time. (Hey, I couldn't do any better.) I think the guys just really like this song and thought it would be fun to cover in concert. Notice no cover songs end up on their studio albums. (I don't think. I'm running through them all in my head and can't think of any.)
    Some covers aren't bad, though. (Blasphemy alert) I actually like Joe Cocker's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends" better than the Beatles' version. And I'm a HUGE Beatles fan! Warren Zevon's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower." Bobby Darin's "Mack The Knife." All amazing.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaI find it funny that some people think they can do a classic song really good. Not just this song but others people try to do. They should leave the songs to either the group or singer who wrote it or another classic band or singer. But it was that bad. It wasn't as better or as good but it wasn't awful But they should leave it to The Beatles or Paul and Ringo since they r the only ones left.
  • Karren from Deerfiled, Nhyour right PETE no one does this song better than MOTLEY CRUE
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhNice try by U2, but this song is kind of ruined by the whole Manson incident.
  • John from Woburn, MaThis is another example of a cover song mocking the original. while Charles Manson interpreted it as the coming of a race war it was really about a roller coaster at a popular British amusement park in the late 60's called "The Helter Skelter". U2 makes it seem less about the ride and more about race war, drugs, etc. by omitting the line "Where i stop and i turn and i go for a ride" and adding "And i know, as i can, that i never get high". Horrible cover.
  • Ale from Necochea, ArgentinaI believe it's not an improvemente, but a revindication of the song, thought to be an inspiration for crazy murderers... :S
    They retrieved it from the Leno and Rosemary LaBianca's Waverly Drive residence and placed it in rock and roll, so, thanks U2.
  • John from Levittown, NyBono actually flubs some of the lines, saying You ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer. Still a good cover though, and nice to see someone refute the "hip" aura a maniac like Manson has somehow engendered in the years sice his conviction.
  • Robbie from London, CanadaBands should create ORIGINAL ideas, not try to improve on one of the greatest bands in history.
  • Alain from Gainesville, FlIt's a great song for Those who's starting a band, easy and it Rock's...Mc Cartney's hardest song ever.
  • Ryan from Albion, Nydamn you,u2????? man bobby boy,u are certainly out of your mind,and if you have in fact HEARD the u2 version,you would be saying god bless u2 for recreating a beautiful song,and keeping it just as,if not making it more,wonderful
  • Ralph from Tuscaloosa, AlThey redid it as a kind of symbolism. "Stealing it back" from Charles Manson. I think it's a damn good cover.
  • Erin from New Brunswick, Canada"Healter Skelter" [sic] was written in blood in the Leno and Rosemary LaBianca's Waverly Drive residence, not Sharon Tate's Cielo Drive home. It was written on their fridge and "PIG" was written in blood on the front door of Cielo Drive.
  • Jordan from Ontario, Canadayou said it, bob. they stole the rooftop concert idea from the beatles, too
  • Pete from Corpus Christi, Txno one does it better than
    MOTLEY CRUE
  • Geoff from Adelaide, AustraliaI dont mind this version of this song. I heard it before I heard the Beatles version, and although I prefer the origional, this one is pretty good
  • Bob from Levittown, PaI can't believe someone redid Helter Skelter by the Beatles. You can't redo one of the best songs ever written by the Beatles. Damn you, U2.
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