Charles Manson and His Hauntingly Strange Musical Past
    • WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 04, 2017

    • Posted by: Jack Labbe

    The 82 year old Charles Manson has been in the news recently as reports came in yesterday that he had been transferred to a hospital after falling ill. The former California cult leader has been serving 9 consecutive life sentences for his role in the murder of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate, at the end of the summer of 1969. This string of murders and the highly publicized trial that followed shocked the country for years to come.

    Charles Manson has since become a household name, but before these acts took place he predicted he would be famous for a different reason. Before the trials and the murders Charles Manson was known to some only as a subpar songwriter, involved in the late 1960's folk and California Sound movement. He had successful friends like Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys who, impressed by his songwriting talent, introduced him to Terry Melcher, a notable music producer involved in deeply in the music industry. Dennis also helped Charles record a number of songs in his brother/bandmate Brian Wilson's home studio in Los Angeles. These recordings have survived the years and give us a glimpse into the demented mind of Charles Manson.

    "Look At Your Game, Girl"



    This track is one of Charles's most well thought out songs. Most of his music seems to just ramble for a few minutes until it sputters out, but "Look At Your Game, Girl" at least plays on the theme of a girl lying to herself until good old Charles Manson comes to save the day... This song was actually covered by Guns N' Roses. I can only imagine because Axel Rose and Slash think they're the most edgy rockers of all time.

    "People Say I'm No Good"



    You can tell just by the title that this is one of the creepier songs he put out. In hindsight, lyrics like "Everybody says you're no good / 'Cause Charles you don't do / You don't do like they think you should" and "I don't care / I don't care what they say / Just let 'em sit there and burn" gain a more sinister meaning. If only Dennis Wilson took this as a moment of "If you see something, say something."

    "Never Learn Not To Love You (Cease To Exist)"



    This track was originally written by Charles Manson and named "Cease To Exist" before it was reworked by Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys. It appeared on The Beach Boys' album 20/20 and after Manson got word that Dennis changed some of the words, the title, and subsequently gave himself sole writers credit he threatened to murder Dennis. This quickly ended Manson's relationship with The Beach Boys.

    "Helter Skelter"



    While Manson did not write this and had no real relation to The Beatles, he claimed that the murders that the "family" carried out were inspired by The Beatles White Album. He claimed that there were instructions in the music, particularly the song "Helter Skelter," about a race war that was about to come. This story was used as intent for the prosecutors to explain why these senseless murders took place.

    Charles Manson's music is interesting in part because of the fact that it is not worthy of an objective appraisal. Who's to really say if these songs are good or bad? It is impossible to detach these songs from the infamous trial. However, based on the music that has been released, it's fair to say that he wouldn't have become a household name without the trials. It is worth listening to because it provides us with an intimate glimpse into the mind of a crazy man, getting ready to strike. Maybe if his music career wasn't a failure, he wouldn't have gone on a murderous rampage. One more ear monitor problem with Mariah Carey and we should keep her on a watch list.
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