Modern Poetry Edition #32, (Book-Movie-Song Poems)


Like Lance inda Mountains, the Beatles finished strong to take MPultizer #32. It seems the Manson connection didn't hurt the wacky song's prospects any. Well good, I say. One of our new voters even quoted the U2 version's intro, "This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We're stealin' it back." Fair play to you, Jason. And Jason, like you, I voted for Born Free. But, as we like to say 'round here at MP HQ, "This is a poem Michael Jackson bought the publishing rights to after U2 stole it from Manson who had pilfered it from the Beatles. We're stealin' it again."

For those unfamiliar with the role the White Album played in Manson's mania, here is the straight dope from Uncle Cecil:

Dear Cecil:

Why did Charles Manson believe that the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" was about the upcoming race war? Are there any documents that you own that say why in hell he would think this, other than the fact that he is crazy? --J.C. from MI

Dear J.C.:

I'd say the fact that he's crazy pretty well covers it. "Helter Skelter," which appeared on the Beatles' White Album, was Paul McCartney's attempt to outrock Pete Townshend of the Who. Some Beatles fans describe the song as heavy metal, which is putting it a bit strongly. But it had more energy than most McCartney compositions of the period, and the descending refrain "helter skelter" lent it an edginess that made it stick in the mind.

The song's musical qualities had very little to do with its subject matter, however. "In England, home of the Beatles, 'helter skelter' is another name for a slide in an amusement park," Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi tells us in his book about the case, Helter Skelter. The Oxford English Dictionary further clarifies that a helter skelter is "a towerlike structure used in funfairs and pleasure grounds, with an external spiral passage for sliding down on a mat." Recall the opening line: "When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide / Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride." It's a joke, get it? The Rolling Stones might do this faux bad-guy thing about putting a knife right down your throat, but the ever-whimsical McCartney figured he'd rock the house singing about playground equipment.

All this went over the head of Charles Manson. He thought Helter Skelter was the coming race war and the White Album was a call to arms. If you're in a certain frame of mind you can understand some of this, e.g., the "piggies" in the tune of the same name, who need a "damn good whacking," and the sounds of gunfire in "Revolution 9." But to think that the line "you were only waiting for this moment to arise" in the song "Blackbird" was an invitation to black people to start an insurrection . . . sure, Charlie. Whatever you say. Now put down that gun.

--CECIL ADAMS

OK, then. There you have it. Be on the lookout for a National Treasure, coming to your email soon.

--Sean

Modern Poetry #32 {Book-Movie-Song Poems}
[7/5/05]
**Helter Skelter by The Beatles (and Vincent Bugliosi)
Stand By Me by Ben E. King (and Stephen King as 'The Body',
basis for Stand By Me, the movie)
Born Free by Andy Williams, w/b Don Black & John Barry (and by Joy Adamson)
Carrie by Europe (and Stephen King, movie featuring young
Sissy Spacek and buckets of pig's blood)
For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton (and Ian Fleming)

**Winner of MPulitzer

Most Excellent Comments with your votes this week: only one problem, it's a four way tie.

Carrie gets zero votes and everyone else is tied with 2 votes each. You young slackers who don't vote 'cause you're always complaining that your votes don't count, you have the power. You know who you are...

-----------------------------------------

Now, you youngsters take note. This is how you vote for an MPulitzer Prize:

From Steve,
Born Free, Carrie and For Your Eyes Only are immediately penalized twenty points under the Painfully Fluffy Sacharine rule. Stand By Me makes a good run down the home stretch but stumbles over its own repetitiveness to lose by a nose to Helter Skelter. The Beetles win by dint of the bonus point for sheer incomprehensibility.

From Dan,
Helter Skelter - I can't make any sense of it. I guess that's what makes it a modern poem.
Stand By Me - Too simple, sappy, and "greeting card"ish for my tastes.
Carrie - It's by Europe ... is there really anything else to say? (there is a reason they only had one hit album)
For Your Eyes Only - #17 on the list of the 50 best makeout songs of the 80's. It's okay as a poem, but is a little bit cheesy.
   That leaves me voting for Born Free. It has good rhythm, rhyme, and balance, not to mention it gets
   bonus points for coming up so soon after the 4th of July.

So there you have it. So far, Beatles 1, Andy Williams 1, if you are scoring at home. Or even if you're by yourself...

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On TVLand this week there was a marathon of TV Movies. I caught some of 'The
Boy In The Bubble' (TBITB is also a fine song by Paul Simon) and a little of
'Helter Skelter.' Good stuff.

Which reminds me, one of my most memorable college conversations went like
this...

STM: Have you read the book Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi?

FTH: No.

STM: It's crazy! You gotta read it. You know, it's about Manson and The
Family and all that. Those were some seriously freaky people. Got into the
sixties drugs and Manson was a brain-washer with all these runaway commune
chicks under his spell. The book is intense. I recommend it. Very
frightening and violent, though.

FTH: Yeah I've heard some of those stories. Maybe I will check it out.

STM: It's definitely worth checking out. Have you seen the movie? They
made a movie about it too, but I haven't seen it.

FTH: No, I haven't seen the movie. I have heard the song. Both versions,
The Beatles and U2.

Since that conversation, I have searched for years trying to uncover other
Book-Movie-Song combo's. I found a few (including TBITB), Born Free was
a nice sappy BMS Combo. Check out what IMDB had to say about 'Born Free',
"Rated PG for some wild animal action and brief language." Are you like me?
Do you wish there were more options on free tv today that feature minimal
talking and wild animal action?

I almost included Moby Dick as it's a great (if wordless) song, a damn
decent movie (several times) and one of the finest books to battle for the
big shiny belt that says 'Greatest American Novel.' Sadly, even though I
know both Bonham and Bartleby would've been delighted, I could not allow for
the wordless poem. Note 'instrumental poems' are not allowed.

An exception would doubtless have been made for "Dueling Banjo's" if the tune
(though wordless) were called Deliverance, after the book and movie, great both.
I would have been willing to scribe the tune note for note like this:

dinga ding ding ding ding ding ding ding
dinga ding ding ding ding ding ding ding
dingadingadinga-ding, dinga dinga deow...

But it ain't called Deliverance, it's called Dueling Banjos. Be on the lookout
for a future MP Edition containing the Dueling Banjos. For now, enjoy the ones
I did select: Helter Skelter, of course, and the aforementioned Born Free
(it's better than you think). 'Stand By Me' gets in on a technicality, and
Carrie via a Stephen King coincidence with a trashy 80's hair band ballad,
and For Your Eyes Only fills out the edition. Email me with other Book-Movie-
Song combos to see them included in a future episode.

Vote 'em up.

Helter Skelter by The Beatles
====================================
When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

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.

Helter skelter, helter skelter, Helter skelter.

Will you, won't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out helter skelter, helter skelter, Helter skelter

Look out, cause here she comes.

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

Well do you, don't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out helter skelter, helter skelter, Helter skelter
Look out helter skelter
She's coming down fast
Yes she is
Yes she is.

Stand By Me
====================================
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah

Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Born Free by Andy Williams
====================================
Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free, where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free

(Stay free, where no walls divide you)
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free

Carrie by Europe
====================================
When light goes down, I see no reason
For you to cry. Weíve been through this before
In every time, in every season,
God knows Iíve tried
So please donít ask for more.

Canít you see it in my eyes
This might be our last goodbye

Carrie, carrie, things they change my friend
Carrie, carrie, maybe weíll meet again

I read your mind, with no intentions
Of being unkind, I wish I could explain
It all takes time, a whole lot of patience
If itís a crime, how come I feel no pain.

For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton
====================================
For your eyes only, can see me through the night.
For your eyes only, I never need to hide.
You can see so much in me, so much in me that's new.
I never felt until I looked at you.

For your eyes only, only for you.
You'll see what no one else can see, and now I'm breaking free.
For your eyes only, only for you.
The love I know you need in me, the fantasy you've freed in me.
Only for you, only for you.

For your eyes only, the nights are never cold.
You really know me, that's all I need to know.
Maybe I'm an open book because I know you're mine,
But you won't need to read between the lines.

For your eyes only, only for you.
You see what no one else can see, and now I'm breaking free.
For your eyes only, only for you.
The passions that collide in me, the wild abandoned side of me.
Only for you, for your eyes only.