The Meaning Behind The Song: MidLife Crisis by Faith No More - Old Time Music (2024)

Introduction

In 1992, alternative rock band Faith No More released the single “MidLife Crisis” from their album Angel Dust. The song gained widespread recognition and became a hit, reaching the top 30 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. But what was the meaning behind this provocative song?

Table of Contents

From the title itself, “MidLife Crisis” suggests an internal conflict that typically occurs during middle age when individuals take stock of their lives and reassess their priorities. But the song’s lyrics and music video present a more complex interpretation that examines the nature of identity, power, and control.

Lyrics Analysis

The opening lines of the song set the stage for a narrative exploration of power and control: “Go on and wring my neck, like when a rag gets wet / A little discipline, for my pet genius.”

The image of wringing someone’s neck, a gesture that implies control and dominance, contrasts with “the pet genius,” who is typically regarded as highly talented and intelligent, but also submissive. The link between the two ideas implies a power dynamic in which someone in a dominant position seeks to maintain their control over a talented but potentially threatening subordinate.

The next verse continues this theme: “Realize that I don’t wanna be a miser, / Confide, wisely, you’ll be the wiser.”

Here, the protagonist acknowledges that he does not want to be miserly with his emotional expression but instead wants to confide in someone. The phrase “you’ll be the wiser” suggests that the protagonist has a valuable insight to share, and that being open and communicative will be mutually beneficial.

Throughout the song, the protagonist’s internal conflict is expressed through vivid and sometimes surreal imagery that suggests a struggle to integrate his various selves: “Pre-ordained / that’s what I am / and now, / that I’m a man / I must make my own life plan.”

This idea of being “pre-ordained” suggests that the protagonist has inherited certain expectations and norms from his culture and upbringing, but that as he approaches middle age, he must carve out a new identity that reflects his unique desires and values.

Music Video Analysis

The music video for “MidLife Crisis” is also an important part of understanding the song’s meaning. Directed by Kevin Kerslake, the video features lead singer Mike Patton in a variety of surreal and disturbing images, including a man calmly eating a fish’s eye and a woman ingesting a snake whole.

These images suggest a subversion of traditional gender roles and power hierarchies, as well as a rejection of the idea that people should conform to societal norms and expectations. The video also uses bright colors and frenetic editing to create a sensory overload that evokes the disorientation and confusion of a midlife crisis.

FAQs

1. What inspired Faith No More to write “MidLife Crisis”?

According to the band’s guitarist Jim Martin, the song was inspired in part by a friend who was going through a midlife crisis and struggling to come to terms with their own mortality. The band also wanted to explore the idea of power and control and how these dynamics can shape our lives and relationships.

2. What is the significance of the line “A little discipline, for my pet genius” in the song’s opening verse?

This line is a metaphor for the protagonist’s internal conflict between his desire for creative expression and his need to maintain control over his impulses and emotions. The phrase “pet genius” suggests that the protagonist sees himself as a highly talented but potentially dangerous force that must be kept in check through “discipline.”

3. Why did Faith No More choose to make such a surreal and disturbing music video for “MidLife Crisis”?

According to director Kevin Kerslake, the band wanted a video that would challenge viewer expectations and explore the themes of power and control in a visually provocative way. The video’s surreal and disturbing imagery was meant to evoke a sense of disorientation and confusion, which is a hallmark of the midlife crisis experience.

4. What is the significance of the image of the woman eating a snake in the music video?

The image of the woman eating a snake is intended to be a metaphor for the protagonist’s struggle to integrate his various selves and reject societal expectations. The image can also be interpreted as a subversion of traditional gender roles, as the woman in the video is depicted as a powerful and dominant force.

5. What makes “MidLife Crisis” different from other songs about midlife crises?

Unlike many songs about midlife crises, “MidLife Crisis” does not focus solely on the protagonist’s emotional turmoil or desire to recapture lost youth. Instead, the song examines the complex power dynamics that shape our lives and relationships, and suggests that true fulfillment and self-discovery can only come from challenging societal norms and taking control over our own destinies.

6. How did audiences respond to “MidLife Crisis” when it was first released?

“MidLife Crisis” was a commercial and critical success, and remains one of Faith No More’s most popular and well-known songs. It reached the top 30 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and has been covered by a number of other artists, including the Foo Fighters.

7. What is the significance of the song’s title?

The title “MidLife Crisis” refers to the internal conflict that typically occurs at middle age when individuals take stock of their lives and reassess their priorities. This crisis of identity can be a painful and confusing experience, but can also be a springboard for personal growth and self-discovery.

8. What is the relationship between the song’s lyrics and its music?

The music for “MidLife Crisis” is characterized by a driving beat and heavy bassline that complement the song’s lyrics, which are often surreal and provocative. The music also features a number of changes in tempo and dynamics that mirror the song’s narrative structure and reinforce its themes of internal conflict and personal transformation.

9. How has “MidLife Crisis” influenced other artists?

“MidLife Crisis” has been covered by a number of other artists, including the Foo Fighters, and has been cited as an influence by a wide range of musicians in the alternative and metal genres. The song’s powerful and provocative lyrics, as well as its innovative use of imagery and sound, continue to resonate with audiences and inspire new generations of musicians.

10. What is the message that Faith No More wants to convey through “MidLife Crisis”?

At its core, “MidLife Crisis” is a song about the importance of self-discovery and personal growth, even in the face of societal expectations and internal conflict. The song encourages listeners to challenge their assumptions and take control over their lives, and suggests that true fulfillment and happiness can only come from living authentically and embracing one’s unique identity.

11. Why do you think “MidLife Crisis” has remained popular more than 25 years after its release?

“MidLife Crisis” has remained popular because it speaks to the universal human experience of questioning one’s identity and place in the world. The song’s powerful message of self-discovery and empowerment continues to resonate with audiences of all ages, and its provocative imagery and sound continue to inspire new generations of musicians and artists.

12. What is the legacy of “MidLife Crisis” and Faith No More as a band?

“MidLife Crisis” and Faith No More have had a significant impact on the alternative and metal genres, and continue to inspire musicians and fans around the world more than 25 years after their peak. The band’s innovative use of sound and imagery, combined with their willingness to explore complex and provocative themes, have made Faith No More one of the most influential and enduring groups of their era. Their legacy continues to be felt in the music industry and beyond.

Conclusion

“MidLife Crisis” remains an important and enduring piece of music that speaks to the universal human experience of questioning one’s identity and place in the world. Through its powerful and provocative lyrics and innovative use of imagery and sound, the song encourages listeners to embrace their unique selves and challenge societal norms and expectations. As such, “MidLife Crisis” continues to be a vital and relevant piece of music more than 25 years after its initial release.

The Meaning Behind The Song: MidLife Crisis by Faith No More - Old Time Music (2024)
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