This is a little different than previous posts, and I promise to pick up with Side two of Please Please Me on Wednesday. However, as writer, director and producer of this blog, I reserve the right to change things up a little bit. And today, I present to you "The Top Five Most Violently Misogynistic Beatles Songs."
I don't mean for this list to reflect negatively on the Beatles as people or a musical group, but they came from different times, and were known to have personal issues that came through into their songwriting. John especially, had Mommy issues, and some really unnerving control issues when it came to his lady-friends. Nonetheless, I love all these songs, and consider several of them among my all-time favorites.
Without further ado,
5. "Getting Better" Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967
“I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved.”
Well, we start out with an admission by Paul McCartney of physical violence towards women. However, "Getting Better" doesn't rank higher because the singer admits that he was wrong to hit his girlfriend and is 'getting better' at not doing it. Progress!
4. "Maxwell’s Silver Hammer" Abbey Road, 1969
“Bang clang Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head/Bang clang Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead.”
In this case, only two out of the three known victims of Maxwell's hammer are female, but the man himself is known to have a fan club ("Rose and Valerie, screaming from the gallery, 'Maxwell must go free!'"), like many real-life sexual predators.
The chorus of the song, quoted above, is the actual act of murder, and even first-time listeners find themselves singing happily along by the last refrain. Which is, of course, terrifying, if you think about it.
3. "You Can’t Do That" A Hard Day's Night, 1964
“Please listen to me if you wanna stay mine/I can’t help my feelings, I go outta my mind/I’m gonna let you down, and leave you flat/cause I told you before/you can’t do that."
It was hard to pick a worst lyric for this one, since the whole thing is just one big threat. A close second was the opening line, "I've got something to say that might cause you pain, if I catch you talking to that boy again." John is railing against his hypothetical girlfriend (he was married at the time), saying that it will ruin his reputation if she so much as speaks to another guy, and that he will be forced to "let her down" and "leave her flat."
This song was originally going to be in A Hard Day's Night, the film, and footage was shot of the band performing it, but due to run time issues, it had to be cut. Producers also suggested that perhaps it was a little too "menacing" for the Beatles target audience: teenage girls.
2. "I’ll Get You" She Loves You (B-side), 1963
“You might as well resign yourself to me.”
"I'll Get You" starts out innocently enough, asking the listener to "imagine I'm in love with you," which is what just about every teenage girl in the world was doing already anyway. It goes on from there, however, to say that there's really no point in resisting, because YOU WILL BE MINE, in the end. The "resign yourself" lyric is pretty depressing, although probably an accurate representation of how many relationships worked back in the day.
I've mentioned in this blog already that "I'll Get You" is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and I enjoy the veiled threats just as much as any other part of the composition.
1. "Run For Your Life" Rubber Soul, 1965
“I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.”
That's the first line of the song. The rest of in continues in this vein. John Lennon, "a wicked guy, born with a jealous mind," will track you down and kill you if you're not willing to spend the rest of your life with him. This is the last track on Rubber Soul, and what a way to go out. This, also, is one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs. Great for Karaoke.
Did I miss anything? Let me know.