10 minute Charles Manson interview from September 11, 1967
Here’s the first known audio recording of Charles Manson during his recording stint at Universal Studios. The interviewer is probably Corey Allen (and the second guy Gary Stromberg).
Interviewer: Everything is beautiful?
Charles Manson: If you love it.
Interviewer: If you’re all alone, you have to think of four walls.
Charles Manson: You know what? The way out of a room is not through the door, partner.
Interviewer: The way out of a room is not through the door?
Charles Manson: No. You just go to a bigger room.
Interviewer: Would you mind repeating that again?
Charles Manson: The way out of the room is not through the door. Because then you just go into another room, which leads into another room, which leads into a bigger room. And you’re still inside your cage, man
Interviewer: And you’re still inside your cage?
Charles Manson: Yeah, that’s not the way out. The way out is to be willing, man.
Interviewer: Willing to do what?
Charles Manson: To give it all up. And love every bit of it as being perfect.
Interviewer: You think that’s important, huh?
Charles Manson: Now, you assumed the beings of—
Interviewer: No, I wanted to get closer to you.
Charles Manson: Wait a minute.
Interviewer: I just wanted to groove.
Charles Manson: Wait a minute.
Interviewer: I feel the vibrations, man.
Charles Manson: Yeah. You feel this: you feel your conditioning coming on and exactly what you feel is— I tell you what exactly— you assumed the beings of a social worker, now. And you will say “hm, what next after that?”
Interviewer: No. I am the furthest thing from a social worker. But to me everything is beautiful, also. But to me when you said, “Four walls in solitary confinement is beautiful.” It was hard for me to groove with that for a minute. Like I can say, “Yeah, this room is beautiful.” You know? I can say a lot of rooms are beautiful. But when you take four concrete walls, man, and put them together— they ain’t saying much.
Charles Manson: Mmmhmm.
Interviewer: That’s what threw me for a minute. But I’m not playing social worker, because I would never do that.
Charles Manson: Yeah, well, okay.
Interviewer: Yeah, I am not thinking in that vein at all.
Charles Manson: Yeah, well you know, uh, I can’t see where you’re at. Generally, I see where most people are at immediately.
Interviewer: Do you?
Charles Manson: Yeah.
Interviewer: Well, you saw where I was at the other day, didn’t you? I thought you saw where I was at.
Charles Manson: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a nice place to be. It was a groovy experience— it is. I wouldn’t want to get all hung up in it.
Interviewer: I’m not hung up into it either. I’m not trapped in it, did you know that?
Charles Manson: I believe it. I believe anything you say. You can never lie to me. I believe all. You’re perfect. You can never do any wrong. Anything you do is just— my goodness. Yeah, there are no mistakes.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s a wild way to, uh—
Charles Manson: Each song that I’ve been doing is just one mistake right after another. I just take the mistake and groove on it and it becomes something else. And I do this (strums guitar) and make another mistake. And I just keep making the same mistake and it becomes another beat. You can get all kinds of beats by making groovy little mistakes.
Interviewer: When did you take up the guitar? Before you went into prison, or after you got out? Or while you were in?
Charles Manson: While I was in.
Interviewer: You took it up while you were in?
Charles Manson: Yeah.
Interviewer: And composed songs in prison?
Charles Manson: Yeah, most of them today I just compose them right here.
Interviewer: What kind of songs did you compose in prison?
Charles Manson: Uh—
Interviewer: Play one.
Charles Manson: It’s kind of embarrassing, man. I have to get in somebody else to do that.
Interviewer: No, don’t be embarrassed. Just play something.
Charles Manson: Alright. (Plays a riff and stops) No man, I can’t play that.
Charles Manson: Because, just, uh, you know.
Interviewer: Is it a hang up?
Charles Manson: No, it’s not a hang up, man. I can play. I just hate— (strums guitar again and stops)— no, I can’t.
Interviewer: What do you feel like playing?
Charles Manson: Nothing.
Interviewer: Nothing? Okay, let’s talk then.
Charles Manson: You know what? We go some places— I tell you what I generally do— this is kind of crazy. We go around and visit a lot and we go in people’s house— (tape cuts)— waste for it, that’s all. That’s a joke. Check this, man—
Interviewer: What? The air of confidence?
Charles Manson: No, you’re born with the survival instinct to be selfish. Even old J.C. said spare the rod and spoil the child, you dig? So, the first thing that happens man, is that they start giving you their thoughts. And making things out of you that they want to make out of you. And by the time you reach thirty, you are exactly what they want. You are a free soul standing in a cage who has to die because he was taught that he has to die and he has to eat because he was taught. Everyone must eat, why you’d be insane. Then they say, “Don’t go insane.” And they say, “Let me help you.”
Interviewer: Do you read a lot?
Charles Manson: No. I don’t read at all.
Interviewer: You don’t read at all?
Charles Manson: Uhuh. I was lucky. I got out of the rays early. I was so smart when I was a kid that I learnt that I was dumb— fast.
Interviewer: That’s beautiful.
Charles Manson: That’s the way it is with everyone, not just me. You’re taught that you can’t. They even teach you the words— they give you the words. Take all of the words away and don’t think in right or wrong, just think in truth. You know? The answers are there. The sound of one hand clapping is simply the sound of one hand clapping. There are no big answers. All of the big colleges that we’ve been building is taking people the other way. The smartest people in the world are really the most cut off. It’s the common people, man, with the soul that really moves, you know? And it reflects.
Interviewer: In other words you you think that progress is not good for mankind.
Charles Manson: Progress? There’s no such thing as progress, there’s only change. You dig a hole in the ground and you build up a city and you fight a war and you call it progress?
Interviewer: You call it change.
Charles Manson: You call it change. And it’s a beautiful game and it’s a perfect game. And whoever wants to continue playing General and going out and killing themselves, well my goodness— I wouldn’t want to play that game myself. But if they want to play it, I love them for it. If they want to go over there and kill each other.
Charles Manson: The only reason they are over there is cause they want to be. They can use any excuse, and they can say, “But… but… and… maybe…” But it boils down to, man, just one thing: as long as there’s hate in your heart, there will be hate in the world. You can’t fight for peace and you can’t capture freedom. And it’s just a simple old thing, man, that any baby can figure out if we didn’t put cancer in his mind.
Interviewer: Then love is the total answer?
Charles Manson: If someone beat you with a whip and you love the whip, what’s he doing? He’s making a fool of himself. Old J.C. said, “Turn the other cheek.” It’s a simple thing, man. It’s heaven right here, Jack, right here.
Interviewer: Charlie, is that what you were like when they put you in prison? You made it a beautiful place?
Charles Manson: It always was.
Interviewer: I’m not playing social worker.
Charles Manson: It always was. I was playing the game of the bad guy.
Interviewer: Playing for what? I was just asking.
Charles Manson: No. That’s alright. I play the bad guy.
Interviewer: Because I don’t know. I have to ask.
Charles Manson: I play the bad guy, other people play the good guy.
Interviewer: You played the bad guy?
Charles Manson: Why, certainly. I played the criminal. I played the game with myself. Nobody did it to me.
Interviewer: While you were in, you didn’t play it?
Charles Manson: While I was in I didn’t play any game.
Interviewer: You didn’t play the game.
Charles Manson: No. I didn’t play any game.
Interview: What did you play?
Charles Manson: Music. They were trying to get me to play their games, but it just didn’t work.
Interviewer: But how did you spend your time away?
Charles Manson: My time away? My time away? There is a way, isn’t there? Far away. How many nights and days?
Interviewer: Are you trying to forget it— is that what you’re trying to do? Are you trying to forget it ever happened?
Charles Manson: Forget what ever happened? I’m glad for everything that happened. Everything just happened perfect. It did, really.
Interviewer: Everything happens for the best, right?
Charles Manson: I picked the right mother. My luck is great, because my father didn’t stick around— I picked him too. Boy, he was a gas.
Interviewer: When did he cut out?
Charles Manson: Oh, he cut out early in the game. He was pretty keen. He didn’t want to get hung up, either. Pick yourself off the shelf, you belong to nobody. You belong to yourself— that’s your conditioning.
Interviewer: Sing that, Charlie. That thing— take yourself off the shelf. That’s a song, isn’t it?
Charles Manson: Yeah. It won’t be the same way. It won’t be the same song.