In response to my inquiry for the most genre-bending Beatles cover, Jay in Cincinnati remembers a truly unique, a cappella version of “Helter Skelter”:
Somewhere in the mid-1980s, I was working late ... really really late, after 3 A.M. late. Finally driving home, my brain competed with only two thoughts: staying conscious enough to survive the trip, and how good it would feel when I finally could collapse into bed.
The radio was on—nice and loud, to help me avoid nodding off, tuned to a small non-commercial station that played non-mainstream music. When this song came on, it must have been close to 30 seconds before I even realized it was a song I knew. It was so different—not just different from the original song, but from almost any kind of music I’d ever heard—that for my own safety I pulled off the road so I could listen. Nobody identified what I’d heard; they just kept playing more music. Sometimes on this station it could be 40 minutes before anyone came on to list what had been played.
There were no cell phones, there was no internet. When I got home, I did not go to bed. I had to get a phone book, look up the station’s number and call. I had to know. Unlike today, when hardly any radio station in America has a live person on the air overnight, someone answered.
I’ve since seen this group [The Bobs] in concert maybe ten times, occasionally planning family/friend visits to other cities based on when they would be performing there. They’ve done covers of other famous songs, sometimes as radically different as this, but also in versions more recognizable. Mostly they sing their own songs, which range from hilarious to weird to touching. Every time I see them do this song, it brings back that night.
Update from a reader in Bend, Oregon: