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March 23rd, 2006

SOTD @ 10:44 pm

bonoffee:
In the midst of essay madness, today's slightly abbreviated SOTD is...

Helter Skelter from Rattle & Hum

Y'know, it's true what I read once. The first version of a song you hear is likely to be the one you prefer, even if it's a cover and the original is technically better. That's precisely true of Helter Skelter, for me. I'm the first to admit I'm not a massive Beatles affictionado - I like many of their songs and can appreciate their impact but they just don't do it for me. So when I heard U2's version of Helter Skelter, I'd never heard the Beatles', and I took it on its own merit rather than trying to compare it to the other, which I think sets the scene for my interpretation of the song which is the first track on both the Rattle & Hum album and film.

This is a great opener especially for the film because it captures the madness and confusion of a life on tour, as well as the excitement. The enthusiasm of Bono's singing is without doubt and he really belts the song out, infusing it with meaning and really setting the tone for the rest of the film. And the album. It works well on both, actually, because it kicks things off so well and you know you're on a rollercoaster ride - or maybe a helter skelter!

So excuse me while I consult Into The Heart:

'There were people who ridiculed the choice of the Beatles' 'Helter Skelter' as the opening track on Rattle and Hum. In fact, it would be hard to pick anything more appropriate [...]

'In one obvious sense, U2 were on top of the world. In another, they had been plunged into a vortex, where every aspect of their operation was under scrutiny, and every element of their increasingly hydra-headed organisation under severe strain. None more so than the band themselves.

'"'Helter Skelter' was exactly what we were going through on The Joshua Tree tour," Bono said. "It was one of the worst times of our musical life. First a falling light cut me up, and I had to have stitches in my chin. My voice failed for the first week because of dry heat - the press came to the opening show and I couldn't sing. We were on the run the whole time and I busted up my shoulder and was in a lot of pain. And I found that I was drinking a lot just to stop the pain."'


Quite apart from Bono listing his problems, the excerpt shows exactly why people having a go at U2 for choosing to cover Helter Skelter was ridiculous. How can it be wrong when it fits the mood so perfectly? It's an explosive and dynamic performance, almost as if Bono's using the song as a way of exorcising that pain he'd been going through. I disagree, from a fan point of view, that the JT tour was a bad time for the band. I love the concerts from that time and I'd love to go back and see it myself - the rootsy, gutsy performances were just brilliant. Clearly Bono felt differently but then that's the beauty of being a fan - you can say what you like. ;)

I think the music is played with a passion, too. If you've watched the film performance, there's a definite urgency about the delivery of the music with Edge looking well into it and of course it was back in the day when Adam really moved around a stage!

And the lyrics are great. Yeah, yeah, I know it's the Beatles. I like this song because it has ambivalence in the words which is driven by the music. "Do you, don't you want me to love you?" It's a great moment when Bono sings it to Edge, it makes me smile. It's probably bad of me to say I didn't like Paul McCartney singing it at the Grammys, but there you go, I didn't, lol! I wanted U2 to get up on stage and do it properly. ;)

So there you go. Kick off R&H in style, listen to Helter Skelter and get immersed in the crazy road lifestyle of U2, baby.



his is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealing it back.

When you get to the bottom
You go back to the top of the slide
And you stop and you turn
And you go for a ride
Then you get to the bottom
Then you see me again

Do you, don't you want me to love you / Yeah
Coming down fast I'm right here above you / Yeah
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
Ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer

Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter

Do you, don't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast now don't let me break you / Yeah
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer

Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter

When you get to the bottom
You go back to the top of the slide
And you turn and you stop
And you go for a ride
Then you get to the bottom
Then you see me again
Hey hey hey

Do you, don't you want me to love you / Yeah
Coming down fast I'm right here above you / Yeah
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
Ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer

Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
(And again)

Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter



Helter Skelter uploaded to SaveFile (which I'm finding better than YSI!).

Once uni is on a break, my SOTD will be so much better. Lol!
 
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Comments

 
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From:offside
Date:March 23rd, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC)
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I think this is the best version I've heard of the song. I just ... don't really like the original that much. There's so much more passion in U2's.
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From:sapphires13
Date:March 23rd, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
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**shakes fist at you** Damn you, Kat XD I was going to do this song as my SOTD next week =P

I have to agree with you though, I fell in love with U2's cover long before ever hearing the original. And then when I finally did hear the original, I found myself singing Bono's altered lyrics instead XD
Looking at the tracklisting of the video, there's no better song to kick off the chaos with. Especially considering it's high status with fans today, WTSHNN might have worked, but then the entire thing would have a different feel. It's place as an opening for the Tempe section of the video is much more appropriate.
I can remember watching Rattle & Hum for the first time, I was very excited and had been looking forward to it for a long time. Then the movie starts, we get the Paramount logo, the noise of an excited crowd, and Bono's intro to the song. And then it starts, Edge's instense guitar, our boys sweaty and in grainy black and white, and Bono's energetic singing.
And then comes the best part, the end of the first verse: "Then you see me AGAIN!" Bono throws wide his arms, lights flood the audience, and we cut to a shot from behind. I LOVE that shot. It throws you right in there with the crowd.
Bono sings this song with amazing intensity, he's jumping all over the place, and singing directly into Edge's face (I certainly don't slash those too, but that is hot). There's an amazing freedom in Bono's performance, he's lost in the music, and really feeling it. There's nothing stagnant about it. Also, Adam really is all over the stage, and there's some great shots of he and Edge playing together directly in front of Larry.
It's an amazingly well put together performance, and you're right, it perfectly showcases the chaos they must have all been going through at the time. I like the way it ends too, Bono hunched over and breathing heavily, as though with exhaustion, as the title screen fades in.
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From:bonoffee
Date:March 23rd, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Lol! Sorry! But this was actually my SOTD for last week until I went Lady With The Spinning Head crazy, hee. ;)

I'm glad you feel the same way I do about the film, I agree with all you said. The bit when the lights go up and you see the audience is indeed amazing, makes shivers go down my spine! Although I see it more from Bono's POV than the crowd's, I just end up thinking 'wow, imagine being him up there!' And they do it with so much energy. Woo!
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From:rockstarsex
Date:March 23rd, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
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CHARLES MANSON IS GOD
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From:canadanne
Date:March 24th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC)

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Speaking of Paul McCartney's performance at the Grammies (at least I think it was then...), I was somewhat baffled as to why he had a video of a roller coaster playing behind him?! The song isn't called Roller Coaster!
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From:maccaj
Date:March 24th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
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"Helter Skelter" was named after an amusement park ride, chiefly British in my understanding, that consists of a tall tower with a slide wrapped around it (thus the lyrics). I'm guessing roller coaster footage was the closest thing he could find that was amusement park-ish and conveyed a similar amount of excitement and momentum. He used the same footage on tour.

I like U2's version better too, and I'm a big Paul fan. :)
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From:typewriterking
Date:March 24th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
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But which Paul? :)
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From:maccaj
Date:March 24th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)
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both, of course! My family is convinced "it's the name." :D
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From:canadanne
Date:March 24th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I know what a helter skelter is! :p
Just saying it's hardly the same thing...
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From:maccaj
Date:March 24th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
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sorry, I put the full explanation in case anyone who was reading comments had the same question. My point is that since a helter skelter is a regional thing, I think the roller coaster footage was chosen as a more universal image (considering it's just the same footage used on his world tour).
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From:typewriterking
Date:March 24th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
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I just bought the Rattle & Hum DVD from the discount bin a short while ago. Much fun.
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From:volare
Date:March 24th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
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I like this. Very well written.
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From:bonoffee
Date:March 24th, 2006 01:27 pm (UTC)
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The song, or my review? ;)
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From:inklingfair
Date:March 24th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)

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I used to skip over this song and go directly to "Desire" on R&H but it's grown on me. And I didn't know Bono had a drinking - er - problem then!
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From:alternatending
Date:March 24th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC)
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Does anyone have this in mp4 format for my ipod? =|
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From:kashmir87
Date:March 24th, 2006 12:03 pm (UTC)
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I'm a complete Beatles nerd, and when I read that U2 had covered this song, I felt happy. Even happier when I heard it, because they rock out, it's one of my favourite Beatle covers ever, if not my ultimate favourite. Of course I love the original as well, and what Macca's been doing with it live these past few years is frickin amazing, it was one of the highlights of the '04 Germany show I went to.
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From:canadanne
Date:April 1st, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)

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The first version of a song you hear is likely to be the one you prefer, even if it's a cover and the original is technically better.

That totally sums up my feelings on this song. I realise Bono mangles the lyrics somewhat, which probably pisses off some Beatles fanatics that already knew and loved the original, but it's U2's version that I'm familiar with and I think they perform it fantastically well. Heck, you've used all the good words - I can't think of a better description for it than "explosive and dynamic"!  It's definitely the perfect way to kickstart both the movie and the album.

Favourite bits, if I can manage to narrow it down... the climactic "Then you see me agaaiinnn, hey-hey-hey!" lines. Edge's "Yeahhh!"s. "Tell me tell me tell me the answer, you ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer!". Bono's enthusiastic "And again!" before the final chorus. And just the way he sings "Helter Skelter... ooohhh", it's so much fun to sing along with. :)  OK, I think that was pretty much the whole song, LOL.

Of course, it wouldn't be complete without Bono's laboured panting at the end!  I remember being a bit freaked out by that when I first heard it, I couldn't figure out if Bono was being deliberately theatrical or if he was genuinely that out of breath!  (I'm still not entirely sure...)  I can't imagine that song without the heavy breathing, I often find myself joining in with it just like the rest of the vocals. *g*

I really can't be arsed to dig out the video right now and reacquaint myself with the visuals as well, but no doubt that awesome comment from sapphires13 covers everything I would have said about it!

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