Whether you like them or not, it’s hard to deny the fact that The Beatles made a huge impact on pop culture like none other before or since. And when we think back on the band, we often think about their positive, upbeat music. Peace, love and all that other hippie mumbojumbo from the 60s are generally associated with the Fab Four. Just listen to “All You Need Is Love” — that’s pretty much how a lot people remember the band.
Yet, they also had moments that were pretty dark. Songs that were not exactly a bowl of good fun and surreal gibberish (the latter is some of my favorite of their work). And no, not all the dark tunes are attributed to John Lennon (he just wrote a majority of them, not all of them).
So here are five songs by The Beatles that brought their music to a dark place. But they sang them almost always very, very cheery.
1. Run For Your Life
There is something rather shocking for a Beatles song to begin with the line “I’d rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man.” When I first heard this when I was in high school, I was a little taken aback due to how angry and viscous Lennon sounds spitting out the lyrics. This song certainly went against the grain of their image at the time as well. A good song, but holy cow it ends “Rubber Soul” on a dark, creepy note.
2. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
This little ditty is about a serial killer who bashes people’s skulls in with a hammer. Also, it came out around the time the Manson family was in the news for gruesome murders and it was beginning to be known they were obsessed with The Beatles. Obviously a coincidence and really bad timing. It’s a creepy song, and not one of their best.
Pretty much a cry for — help, yeah not the best pun there. Pretty much Lennon’s feelings of depression at the height of their popularity. He originally wanted to do it as a ballad — and he allegedly re-recorded it after the Beatles broke up as one, though I’ve never been able to find it — but he ended up turning this song of depression and isolation into a pop hit that a lot of people probably don’t realize is a pretty sad song.
4. Think For Yourself
George Harrison could be quite an angry person. This song just sounds like a giant middle finger to someone. Just a real snarky break-up song.
5. Eleanor Rigby
This is a pretty creepy, weird song from McCartney. It uses some eerie orchestra work, and the lyrics are dark, twisted and pretty much the opposite of what people would call a “typical Paul McCartney” song. Well, the album “Revolver” has a lot of dark, twisted songs on it and because it’s so weird like that, it remains one of my favorites.
There are others I could include — just the creepiness of “Revolution 9” showed just how twisted The Beatles could be at times — but I think these are great examples of times the band went to the darker areas in their songwriting.