November 6, 2013 – This list is inspired by the ListVerse.com list “10 famous songs that are really dirty” where I learned there is more to Beatle’s hit “Ticket to Ride” than I thought. Here is the story behind that song, and four other Beatle songs you may or may not know:
- Ticket to Ride – So, it’s just not another love song. Apparently “ticket to ride” is a double entendre and refers to the term John Lennon used for the medical cards German prostitutes carried to show they were clean. Do you believe that? Lennon had a pretty interesting sense of humor, so it’s plausible.
- Norwegian Wood – One of the most beautiful Beatle tunes, and another so-called love song, is more proof of Lennon’s outrageous wit. The song is actually about a misled and angry man who burns down a woman’s house because she doesn’t sleep with him. Nice message, huh? But the sitar is amazing.
- Why Don’t we Do it in the Road – The lyrics of this song are pretty self-explanatory, right? To think I used to defend it when my parents disapproved and say “it” could mean anything. Why don’t we play pick up sticks in the road? Why don’t we knit a sweater in the road? The possibilities are endless. I recently discovered that it was about Paul suggesting that the Beatles record their next session at Abbey “ROAD” studio where they would have more privacy because “no one will be watching us…”
- She’s a Woman – Supposedly this is the first Beatle’s song to contain a drug reference. The line in this song, “turns me on when I get lonely” is said to come directly from their first marijuana experience in 1964 with Bob Dylan. I assumed it meant sexually, of course. The same phrase was used years later in “A Day in the Life” when Lennon crooned, “I’d love to turn you on”. That reference I understood.
- Helter Skelter – Most people recognize this song as an anthem for Charles Manson and his gang, who saw it as a sign to commit several horrendous murders. In reality, Paul says the group wanted to make the raunchiest, loudest, and most ridiculous rock and roll song. Helter Skelter referred to a fairground ride popular in Great Britain, in which people could climb inside a tower and slide down a spiral on the outside. The lyrics, “When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide where I stop and I go for a ride” sort of cements that.
There are also controversial Beatle songs that didn’t make this list because they’ve been talked about so often everyone must know about them. For example, at the end of “Strawberry Fields”, it was said that John mumbles, “I bury Paul”, which coincided with the whole “Paul is Dead” conspiracy theory of the late 1960s. In truth, it is said he actually mumbled “Cranberry Sauce”. It does sound a lot like the Paul reference, though.
Also, the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” being an acronym for LSD controversy is widely talked about, yet John said he wrote it about his son’s school friend, Lucy who drew a picture of herself in the sky. Out of the mouth of babes.
With the large Beatle music library, I’m sure I missed many key songs shrouded in controversy. I love a good theory now and then, so feel free to add your choices in the comment section.