I used to listen to Marilyn Manson, getting two of his albums before I readjusted my tastes in an effort to get closer to well…never mind that. However, upon seeing a clip of Manson do “Fight Song” on Bowling For Columbine, as well as some pointedly intelligent things he said to Michael Moore, I decided to get Lest We Forget, which had most of his popular songs. What I remembered were fierce metal sounds, roaring screams of outrage, packed with energy that makes Metallica sound like Savage Garden, and his scathing attacks on hypocrisy and decadence of the rich and supposed Christian righteousness.
“Love Song” is closely related to Columbine, allegorically about how if we care enough about each other, we won’t need to rely on three bulwarks of hypocrisy. “Do you love your guns? God? The government?” asks the father to a bullet who has a crush on a little pistol.
In “The Fight Song,” he implies how things are staged in the celebrity biz, that showbiz cuts stars’ wrists and claim death was on sale. Notable lyric: “The death of one is a tragedy, but death of a million is just a statistic.” Other cuts against establishment celeb world is “This Is The New Sh-t,” on how new entertainment is packaged. The mimicry of those marketing the new sh-t is funny: “Babble, Babble, B-tch, B-tch/Rebel, Rebel, Party, Party/S-x, S-x, S-x, And don’t forget the violence.” It comes down to giving the enslaved people this new sh-t even if they don’t need it, but they’ll want it anyway: “Are you m——–ers ready for the new sh-t?/Stand up and admit tomorrow’s never coming/This is the new sh-t/Stand up and admit/Do we need it? NO!/Do we want it? YEAH!”
His penchant for covering 80’s songs is demonstrated by a new track, “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode, whose fuzz and industrial drumming sounds place it more in the Mechanical Animals era. “Tainted Love” from Not Another Teen Movie, with its bleeping synths and fuzzy glam wall of metal guitars, gives another version, that of My Ruin, a run for its money. His best known cover is that of a slowed down Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” which he did on the Smells Like Children EP, and which made a brief appearance in Life As A House.
The brisk attack of “Beautiful People” from Antichrist Superstar showed him baring his teeth against the hatred and contempt shown by those with more money and prestige on those who don’t. He uncovers something horrible when he screams: “Hey you, what do you see?/something beautiful and something free?/hey you, are you trying to be mean?/if you live with apes man, it’s hard to be clean.” Yeah, there are plenty of people who live with apes, all right.
The more glam stuff from Mechanical Animals, like “Rock Is Dead” also on The Matrix soundtrack, is still great, especially where he belts out the line of “f— all your protests and put them to bed.” The droning dirge of “The Dope Show” with its attack on the Hollywood set, where drugs are available to those famous ones, makes me wonder if there’s not class and looks discrimination in drug use, as the rich and handsome are the ones who can afford them more.
Of the material post-Mechanical Animals, “mOBSCENE” from Golden Age of Grotesque is the one of the hardest-driving and best songs he’s done, and the female cheerleader chorus singing “be obscene, be be obscene!”
“Disposable Teens” is a condemnatory anthem against lies and the perceived sell-out of the previous generation, with vitriol such as “I’m a teen distortion, survived abortion” and “never really hated a one true god/but the god of the people I hated/you said you wanted evolution, the ape was a great big hit/you say you want a revolution, man
and I say that you’re full of s—.”
Pretty extreme stuff where Manson’s slashes against the establishment are done with a ferocious mixture of metal and bestial roars. Yet I already see some notable omissions. From Antichrist Superstar, the title track and “1996,” which Senator Joe Lieberman condemned-one of my reasons for getting AS in the first place. And what of his cover of Bowie’s “Golden Years” from the Dead Man On Campus soundtrack, as well as his version of AC-DC’s “Highway To Hell” from Detroit Rock City?
I close with these lines from “Fight Song”, an anthem for many to follow, lest we forget: “But I’m not a slave to a god that doesn’t exist. But I’m not a slave to world that doesn’t give a sh-t.”