Monday, March 2, 2009

The Top Five Most Violently Misogynistic Beatles Songs

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

Worst Lyric:
“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

Worst Lyric:
“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

Worst Lyrics:
“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

Worst Lyric:
“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

Worst Lyric:
“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.


Unknown said...

I have definitely noticed ALL of these before...the "dead little girl" lyric jumps out at you, but I don't think some people notice the other ones. I have rewound "It's Getting Better" to people who call themselves Beatles' fans countless times to illustrate just how cruel the song actually is. Seriously, Paul, what's up with that? Okay, I'm psyched your discography is back. Pardon me if I'm a frequent commenter.

Elise said...

Oh man, you know "Run For Your Life" is possibly my favorite Beatles song. And the fact that's it's so incredibly evil makes it that much better. It's seriously the happiest song ever about domestic violence!

Unknown said...

And then there's the ultimate stalking tribute: "No Reply".

josh said...

Listening to "No Reply" and having the lyrics really register is what brought me to this article. It's interesting to consider the effects these subtle and not-so-subtle justifications of misogyny and domestic violence may have been having for the past 5 decades.

Unknown said...

Lennon wrote the "cruel to my woman" line, not Paul. Lennon was a domestic abuser.

nijulinjuly said...

John Lennon said that "Run For Your Life" was actually his least favorite Beatles track, mainly because of the lyrics. George Harrison liked it a lot though. Check out the Mandarin version by Lara and the Trailers, 1967. And if you speak Mandarin, lemme know what she's saying! Is she threatening to kill a boy?? ^.^

Ben Simon said...

Don't forget "I'll Cry Instead":
"And when I do you'd better hide all the girls
Cos I'm gonna break their hearts all 'round the world"

takeasadsongandmakeitbetter said...

Don’t forget: “She ought to think twice/she ought to do right by me” that one’s more subtle.

. said...

Aside from domestic violence, there’s also the incredibly graphic, “Rocky Raccoon,” where a guy pretty much premeditates murdering a girl’s boyfriend (it isn’t even clear if she was ever Rocky’s girlfriend to begin with, just that he fancied her) and winds up getting shot and I’m pretty sure dies due to an incompetent drunken doctor.

. said...

And there are other songs about terrible issues in society like the homeless “Mean Mr. Mustard”, the attractively-built, drag queen “Polythene Pam”, the parental gender switching in “Obladi Obladah”, and probably several others I can’t think of at the moment.

DiscoverPeaceOfMind said...

George hits Helen Shapiro 1.44

Little Child is a song for pedophiles.