Monday, July 9, 2012

Song of the Day: Faith No More, "Midlife Crisis"

What if David Lynch managed a rock band?

David Foster Wallace once took a shot at defining the word "Lynchian" as "a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former's perpetual containment within the latter." To me, that's Faith No More and "Midlife Crisis."

The song is from the record Angel Dust, named for the dehumanizing drug with a pretty name. The album cover, a lovely image of egret, opens up to display a cow hanging from a meat hook. Watch for the white horses in the video above, then stick around to see what they're doing.

See if you can also catch snippets of Simon & Garfunkel in the intro and the Beastie Boys in the bridge. Other than a New York base, the two don't have much in common, but they're snug together inside Faith No More's original score.

As with all FNM songs, I can't figure out what this one is about. They've always been more concerned with the sounds of the words in the melody than the meaning behind the lyrics, so don't try to make head or tail of couplets like "You're perfect, yes, it's true, But without me you're only you/Your menstruating heart, It ain't bleedin' enough for two." Just hear how they roll off Mike Patton's tongue, with the range of a choirboy and the lungs of a demon.

One of my favorite moments in any song I've heard comes right after the pause at 2:38. With brilliant aptitude, the band layers the vocal melodies from the verses and chorus on top of each other in perfect synchronization. When writers gab about how musicians see the world differently from the rest of us, this is what they should be talking about.

Two summers ago, I caught Faith No More's U.S. reunion tour and fell into ecstasy. I screamed along to every word while gearing up for my favorite moment of "Midlife Crisis." After two-and-a-half blissful minutes, the band drew out the pause almost longer than I could stand. They returned with "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder instead.

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