The Beatles Get Dark: Songs of Murder? Arson?


Run For Your Life The BeatlesIn 1965, the Beatles were still considered the Fab Four, a lovable boy band making incredible music and producing silly comedic movies like Help!   But on their landmark album, Rubber Soul, John Lennon let out some personal demons with the misogynistic death threat song, “Run For Your Life”.  Yes, the lyrics are tongue-in-cheek but check out the opening line: “Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to see you with another man”. And who can forget the catchy chorus, ““You better run for your life if you can little girl, hide your head in the sand little girl, catch you with another man, that’s the end’a little girl”. John Lennon was quoted years later that “Run For Your Life” is his least favorite Beatles song for its nasty theme.



Maxwell's Silver Hammer The BeatlesWhen you think about the edgy, dark side of the Beatles music, you’d assume those songs were written by John Lennon. But the “cute” Beatle who wrote all of the silly love songs added a vicious song about a triple murder on Abbey Road. Paul McCartney originally wrote “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” for the White Album, the pop friendly song describes a psychopath who smashes the head of anyone who stands in his way. First, it’s his girlfriend, Joan, then his teacher who kept him for detention. Lastly, as a judge is set to convict Maxwell of murder, just before the words “guilty” are leaving the judge’s lips, Max slams his hammer on his head, “making sure that he was dead”.




“NORWEGIAN WOOD” from Rubber Soul

Norwegian Wood The BeatlesWhile not to the same magnitude of murder, John Lennon describes burning down the house of a lover playing games with him. “Norwegian Wood” is one of the sweetest, calmest records the Beatles ever recorded. It’s the first pop song to ever feature the Indian sitar for the beautiful instrumental solo on “Norwegian Wood”.  Yet dig deeper in the lyrics and get a different emotion. The song was inspired by a John Lennon affair on his wife, Cynthia. He describes the liaison with a woman who invites him to her house late at night. But when he get there, she’s just a tease.  While she goes off to sleep in her bed, he has to sleep in the bathtub. When he awoke she was gone. Paul added the revenge theme to the song’s final lyrics, “She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh. I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath. And when I awoke I was alone, this bird had flown. So I lit a fire, isn’t it good Norwegian wood?” He set her house on fire! Not exactly the theme of Peace and Love the Beatles are best known for today.

HONORABLE MENTION: “Helter Skelter” from the White Album
The Beatles Helter SkelterAlthough not a song about a murder, the song became Charles Manson’s battle cry. The radical, high energy rocker was one of the most frenzied records the Beatles ever recorded. Charles and his “family” would scrawl the words “Helter Skelter” in blood on the walls of their murder victims. Charles was an infamous but huge Beatles fan, in fact, he claimed to be the 5th Beatle!  Many assume the song was written about murder but it’s simply a party record of letting all of your inhibitions go.