Symbols of the 60s: the Christ figure, the Rock Star, the Revolutionary. The aftermath of the 60s: Lucifer claims his celebrants, life sentences are given out and the aftermath of the Summer of Love is evident.
These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them. I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.– Charles Manson
–Manson’s Interpretation of the Beatle’s Helter Skelter
Lyric: 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
Significance: A reference to the Family’s emergence from “the Bottomless Pit,” the underground Death Valley hideaway where the group will escape the violence of Helter Skelter
In British English, helter-skelter not only has its meanings of “confused” or “confusedly” but is the name of an amusement park slide, which this portion of the lyrics suggests is one of the term’s surface denotations in the song. There is nothing to indicate Manson was aware of this meaning.
Lyric: Look out… Helter Skelter… She’s coming down fast… Yes she is.
Meaning:The upcoming explosion of race-based violence is imminent. These are the “last few months, weeks, perhaps days, of the old order.”
Even to someone unaware that helter-skelter is the name of a slide, the song’s mention of a slide might have indicated that the “she” in this part of the lyrics is someone who, literally or otherwise, is riding on a slide and “coming down fast” (i.e., “helter-skelter”, or “out of control”). In My Life with Charles Manson, Paul Watkins makes clear Manson construed “she” as a reference to the words “helter skelter” themselves. It is Helter Skelter — which, in America, at least, can be the noun “confusion” — that is coming down fast, i.e., is imminent.
In trial testimony, Gregg Jakobson, who first met Manson at the home of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson in May or early summer of 1968, described a mural he had eventually seen at the Spahn Ranch, where Manson and most of the Family were residing at the time of the murders:
Jakobson: There was a room called — it was an old saloon in one of the [ranch’s] old [movie] sets.
Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi: Among the front buildings at the ranch?
Bugliosi: Right off Santa Susana Road there?
Jakobson: Yes. And there was a big mural in day-glo colors. It glowed with blue light. It depicted Helter Skelter, and it was written.
Bugliosi: The words [Helter Skelter] were written?
Jakobson. Yes. And there was a picture of the mountains and the desert and Goler Wash, and so on, and Helter Skelter coming down out of the sky.
Bugliosi: Something like a map?
Jakobson: It was more like a mural that covered the whole wall. It was rather impressive.
Manson also hears the Beatles whispering to him to call them in London.
I can’t dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven’t got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me … but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you. –Charles Manson.
–Open-mindedness is the sovereign virtue of the 60s. However, as the travails of the Manson Family demonstrate, open-mindedness can be a weakness.
People of all walks of life were searching for an answer. Religion, spirituality, the occult, drugs, film, rock music and art satisfied most. For the most desperate, though, violence and revolution were the only drug strong enough to shake them from their torpor.
I’m the kind of guy who considers Neil Young to be a better authority than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Lo! The lyrics to Revolution Blues, his take on the Family:
Well, we live in a trailer
at the edge of town
You never see us
’cause we don’t come around.
We got twenty five rifles
just to keep
the population down.
But we need you now,
and that’s why
I’m hangin’ ’round.
So you be good to me
and I’ll be good to you,
And in this land of conditions
I’m not above suspicion
I won’t attack you,
but I won’t back you.
Well, it’s so good to be here,
asleep on your lawn.
Remember your guard dog?
Well, I’m afraid
that he’s gone.
It was such a drag
to hear him
whining all night long.
Yes, that was me with the doves,
setting them free
near the factory
Where you built your computer,
I hope you get the connection,
’cause I can’t take
I won’t deceive you,
I just don’t believe you.
Well, I’m a barrel of laughs,
with my carbine on
I keep ’em hoppin’,
till my ammunition’s gone.
But I’m still not happy,
I feel like
there’s something wrong.
I got the revolution blues,
I see bloody fountains,
And ten million dune buggies
comin’ down the mountains.
Well, I hear that Laurel Canyon
is full of famous stars,
But I hate them worse than lepers
and I’ll kill them
in their cars.
–Charles MANSON, the predominance of planets in the Southern hemisphere prompts you to take action, to draw attention on yourself, and to make your actions and what you have in mind visible to everyone. Sometimes, without giving a single thought to, and to the detriment of, a richer inner life and a deeper and wiser reflection. Action and communication are inevitable in your opinion, and you tend to think that the only thing that matters is what is seen! This is not always true, and it is up to you to progress through the development of inner qualities such as meditation, solitude and imagination so as to become stronger.– [Taken from an Internet astrological reading for Charles Manson]
When the Beatles’ White Album came out, Charlie listened to it over and over and over and over again. He was quite certain that the Beatles had tapped in to his spirit, the truth — that everything was gonna come down and the black man was going to rise. It wasn’t that Charlie listened to the White Album and started following what he thought the Beatles were saying. It was the other way around. He thought that the Beatles were talking about what he had been expounding for years. Every single song on the White Album, he felt that they were singing about us. The song “Helter Skelter” — he was interpreting that to mean the blacks were gonna go up and the whites were gonna go down.
— Former Manson follower Catherine Share, 2009 documentary Manson, Cineflix Productions et al.
–And finally, my main man David P.’s view on Charley and the Family: