The Beatles track Henry Rollins called “one of the best songs ever”

After the idyllic sounds of the 1960s, rock music was about to get nastier in the next decade. Becoming sick of the constant hippie ideals being shoved down people’s throats, the next generation of rockers brought heavier types of music, whether that meant intense sounds like heavy metal or more cerebral music like prog rock. While punk rock came to tear everything down, Henry Rollins was looking to create anger personified in his music.

Ever since the first wave of punk came and went with acts like The Clash and the Sex Pistols, that left a massive hole for people like Rollins to start making their hymns of self-destruction. Operating in the same realm as the Ramones, Rollins wanted to create a band that took the intensity of punk and paired it with the scariness of Black Sabbath.

While classic rockers like The Who garnered a certain amount of respect among the punk crowd, The Beatles had no place in the same genre known for putting safety pins through their cheeks. For all of the songs about destruction and anti-singing, half of the punk faithful were busy rebelling against what the Fab Four had created.

However, Rollins did have a soft spot for The Beatles. Coming to them at an early age, Rollins was shellshocked by how nice the band’s songs were at first, telling Dreaming The Beatles, “I thought The Beatles made children’s records because they were friendly, and their faces weren’t scary like my father’s.”

Taking a deep dive into their back catalogue, Rollins still feels that one of their best songs comes from Sgt Pepper, explaining: “‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’ is one of the best songs ever. It always felt like something really fun was gonna happen, and you didn’t have to be scared. I cannot overexplain to you how much of my life I spent trembling in fear of everything. [But] records never threw a ball at your head.”

Then again, ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’ is one of the more avant-garde songs on The Beatles’ magnum opus. Looking to capture the sounds of a carnival fairground, John Lennon worked with George Martin on various tape loops, creating a cacophony of different sounds that turned into the swirling track during the song’s midsection.

Even though Rollins had a companion in this music, it wouldn’t take long before he started making his way towards heavier fare. Around the same time, Rollins got more acclimated to the sinister sound of The Doors. When discussing hearing the LA band’s debut album for the first time, Rollins knew he had discovered something heavier, remarking in Classic Albums, “‘This is the end, beautiful friend?’ What’s he talking about? Is he talking about death? That’s not like ‘Ob La Di Ob La Da’. What’s going on here?”.

After sinking his teeth into punk rock and heavy metal, Rollins found his calling to create music as an outlet for his anger. Assembling Black Flag, Rollins created the most feral punk rock he could, from tracks that felt too fast for their own good on Damaged to slowing things down to a sludgy crawl on the album My War. Rollins may have scrubbed the stench of The Beatles off when playing punk rock, but no one ever forgets that unparalleled feeling of finding a friend in music for the first time.

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