Redrum Road: Buried Album Covers



Help! – 1965

The album referenced in the novel is 1965’s Help!, by way of the fact that the Overlook ghost band starts playing track 7, Ticket to Ride, at the ghost ball on page 352. The song ends “halfway” through, as the clock hits midnight, and the ghosts do their Poe-style call to unmask.

The two moments that seem to echo the album cover are when Jack is first stalking to the Gold Room, alone, flinging his arms around in frustration, he momentarily looks a bit like how Harrison is posed here. But I like the moment below better since Jack being dragged puts his arms up in the Lennon position for the most part, but as he gains consciousness, he starts weakly gesturing, and mimics the McCartney position a few times. In the larger Redrum Road analysis, Jack equals McCartney, so this would seem apt. Not to mention the fact that the album contains the song You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (track 3), which would make a good soundtrack for what Wendy’s doing here. Also, the ghost ball is the thing that happens right before this scene in both the film and novel, so, while Jack’s first Gold Room sequence could seem like a setup to the ghost ball, this scene takes place much closer, plotwise, to where the Beatles show up in the novel’s story.

(And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how Jack’s eyes are on the Corn Flakes box here. Corn Flakes were John Lennon’s favourite snack food, hence the reference to them in I Am the Walrus. In a moment, when Jack crashes into the stack of boxes, another two Kellogg’s boxes (Rice Krispies) will fall on him. Jack is locked in the storeroom at exactly 1:50:51 – that number will seem more significant when you get to the part about 51:51.)

The Beatles are standing in flag semaphore positions on the album cover, but don’t spell out “HELP” as one would suspect, but “NUJV”, as you can see on the chart below.

So Jack would be making the “J” symbol here, if the reference is intentional.

What’s more, there was a movie made by the same name, starring the Beatles, and acting as a loose excuse for the band to perform the music from the album, while parodying a James Bond movie (something The Shining likes to bury in its folds). Ticket to Ride is performed at 37:57-41:02 of the film, and in The Shining, these time codes refer to the moment (37:57) between the tenth and eleventh of Jack’s ball throws in the lounge (the tenth and eleventh tracks off Help! are 2:36 and 2:37 long, and Jack is throwing the ball at a Zapotec mural with four figures on it and room 237 behind it), which comes seconds before Wendy tells Danny that the loser of their chase will have to “keep America clean” (the poster for Help! features George Harrison asking the viewer to “Help! keep our city clean!”), and then to a moment (41:02) when something resembling a copy of Rubber Soul seems to be tucked under the Overlook kitchen television. Rubber Soul was the album that came out after Help!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2019-04-22-at-2.32.57-am.png

Also, the news broadcast Wendy’s hearing is about a woman lost in the mountains during a snowstorm, and the scene of the Beatles performing Ticket to Ride features them in the Austrian Alps town of Obertauern (“Overpass” basically, in English), playing around on sleighs and skis. I found this behind-the-scenes photo, which shows that they used a snowcat to get around which bears a certain resemblance to the one Hallorann uses to save the day. In that they’re virtually identical.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is attachment.php
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2019-07-17-at-3.21.54-am.png

And if this isn’t your first stop on the Beatles/Shining journey, it might interest you to know that when the treacherous Austin Maxi seems to run into Ullman during the Abbey Road Tour, Hallorann’s snowcat is on the opposite side of the film in roughly the same position (it’s headlamps are right above Ullman’s and Wendy’s heads in this shot).

And here’s a fun one: Help!, the movie, is 1:31:41 seconds long. And at partway through 1:31:41 in The Shining, the scene between Jack and Grady ends midway through the Overlook band’s performance of Home by Henry Hall and the Gleneagles, which started partway into 1:29:13, meaning this 3:10 song is cut down to…2:37/2:38, depending on how you count the seconds. So just as Ticket to Ride is cut short (by midnight unmasking) in the novel, Home is cut short by one of our most significant numbers, and one that refers to the room where a ghost did a rather mind-bending unmasking trick on Jack.

Or how about the fact that the word “help” only appears in the film once, at 51:51 when Wendy and Danny are watching Summer of ’42. Jennifer O’Neill in the film says “Ooo, marvellous donuts. Help yourself.” Danny begins to turn his head a second later and asks Wendy if he can get his fire engine. This is the fire engine that we know Danny owns thanks to his fandom for the TV series Emergency! – another one-word property with an exclamation mark at the end. But more incredible is the fact that the firefighter-paramedics in that show were from Station 51. So this “Help!” at 51:51 made Danny think of Station 51 and “Emergency!” That show is also referenced on page 172 of King’s novel, when Danny’s being attacked by a fire hose outside room 217.

Alright, that’s all I have to say for now about Help! Let’s look at the other albums.

Let It Be (1970)

I’ve covered this already, but if you read the seasonal photos on Ullman’s wall, in the proper order of the seasons–winter (northwest), spring (southwest), summer (northeast), autumn (southeast)–the pattern it makes, in correlation to this cover, gives you the same order as the Beatles on the Abbey Road cover: John, Ringo, Paul, George.

It’s also worth noting that this is the first cover reference to appear, and it’s of the last album released. And it’s stylistically linked to the 2nd last album released, which was the last recorded. (It also appears 16:45 before the start of the Abbey Road Tour, and it next appears beside Wendy 18:45 after the end of the Abbey Road Tour; this pairs perfectly with the recording/release pattern of the albums: Let It Be (recorded), Abbey Road (recorded), Abbey Road (released), Let It Be (released)).

Also, the photo for summer (correlating to Paul) reappears on the CAMERA WALK poster, which Danny’s first trike reveals was behind Jack the entire movie, though Jack is only seen in conjunction with that poster once, during his 0:25 moment of clarity.

Abbey Road (1969)

If you’re not sick of references to Abbey Road yet, bless your heart. Note the drum kit on stage between the ladder’s V. It’s similar to one of Ringo’s.

The Yellow Submarine (1969)

While I don’t see the actual cover referenced anywhere, again, this poster behind Danny in the games room (which I believe to be by Gene Hoffman), bears a near-perfect resemblance in tones, which flow in the same directions to the same areas of the body. Blue-orange-purple-red.

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

So, the BJ bear has a similar design concept to the Walrus and his eggman (though only a hare (Harrison), and a chicken (Starr) get referenced in the film). The closest thing to a walrus would be the elephant in Susie’s office.

And the same album appears in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, directly above the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack. The Beatles would’ve met with Kubrick roughly a year earlier (depending on when this scene was filmed; IMDb has 7 September 1970 as a filming date) to discuss the making of The Lord of the Rings. Lennon saw 2001 and was captivated to the point where he would watch it every week at some point. That came out mid-May in England, so the Beatles probably approached him later that year, or some time in ’69. Imagine if Kubrick pitched them with the idea of starring in Clockwork? Alex and his droogs are basically the Negaverse Beatles.

One more thing about Magical Mystery Tour: there’s an animate egg shaker tucked between a stack of books and the paper with the word “TRAPEZE” on the cover. The book it’s propped against is the same book that will later appear in Hallorann’s bedroom. Something with “Europe” in the title. Does this imply that Wendy, the doctor and Hallorann are the “eggmen”? I’m puzzled about this one. In fact, the meaning of this egg is probably one of the longest running mysteries for me.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

The complexity of interconnections between Sgt. Pepper and The Shining will require its own section (it’s not far below), but for now, just note that the crowd bears a similarity to the final photo. No other photo in the film has a crowd laid out like this.

Revolver (1966)

The black and white faces are similar to the face collage in front of Wendy’s face, on the support beam.

Yesterday and Today (1965)

This denied cover is about as graphic as the Grady murders, but even more unsettling thanks to the cheerful tone of the group. The fact that I’m Only Sleeping, We Can Work It Out, and Act Naturally appear on this release feels apt.

Rubber Soul (1965)

The art beneath the yellow lorry here is sadly not Rubber Soul (how perfect would that’ve been?), but you must admit there’s a resemblance. Also, a “yellow lorry” is referenced in You Never Give Me Your Money. Also, is that Norwegian wood it’s laying on…?

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

There’s no wall that perfectly captures the exact form of the album’s layout of 4×8, but in this 3×7 arrangement there’s at least one direct connection. See how there’s one face on the Beatles cover that isn’t one of them? That image is the 11th image counting from right to left, and from bottom to top, right? Well, so is the Jack photo here, which is, as far as I know, the only image on this wall to be manipulated. But it’s definitely the only image not to appear anywhere else in the hotel.

With the Beatles (1963)

We actually see Danny’s scream face four times. Once when he’s receiving the first shine about the hotel, and three while Hallorann is dying. Perhaps the shine was about Ringo (separated down on the cover), and the death of Hallorann was the other three. Ringo was the first to try to leave the Beatles. This image was also used for the album Meet the Beatles.

Please Please Me/No. 1 (1963)

Visually, this strikes me as the weakest one, but it does strike me as odd the way this shot was turned crooked, after the initial shot of Wendy finding the All Work pages was straight on. Yeah, I know, it’s because she’s looking at something else, I just find it an odd camera move. The song I Saw Her Standing There speaks well to what Jack’s about to do while Wendy’s doing this.

So that basically leaves The White Album as the only ones without a clear, arguable stylistic influence on the film. I will say that the film features quite a few large blank white walls in the Boulder apartment, one of which comes right after the film’s only total blackout image.

Click here for a much deeper dive on the Sgt. Pepper Album cover

Click here to read about other Beatles trivia that connects to The Shining