Punk rock icons, streetwise cinema poets…or both?
Misfits founder Glenn Danzig wrote lots of memorable lyrics during his tenure (1978-1986) as front man of the New Jersey horror-punk quartet. Channeling his love of comics and horror films through gritty guitars, brawny bass and pummeling percussion, the future “Mother” author personified non-conformist cool and street corner machismo. Armed with a deep baritone that was equal parts Elvis and Jim Morrison, the devil-locked Danzig turned his mail-order music enterprise into an enduring cult phenomenon whose tunes have been covered by Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses, and whose grinning, skull-faced Fiend mascot still adorns T-shirts and denim jackets everywhere.
Glenn’s lycanthropic lyrics may never appear in literature anthologies alongside the epics of Shelly, Coleridge, or Emerson—but they sure do conjure surreal scenery, quicken the pulse, and give voice to that chip on your shoulder.
Here are five of the Misfits’ best lyrics.
5. “T.V. Casualty”
Written for the long-delayed Static Age album (but appearing on 1985 comp Legacy of Brutality), this nasty nugget finds Danzig’s apathetic antihero passing time with his television, which—in the days before You Tube, Netflix, and DVR binging—your grandparents called the “idiot box.” He wishes the powers-that-be would grant Marvel superhero Sub-Mariner his own cartoon show. Not likely back in the late ‘70s; the Atlantean sea-king was never as popular Spider-Man or Captain America. But in 2018, with Doctor Strange and Black Panther packing theaters, we wouldn’t be surprised if Savage Sub-Mariner were in pre-production.
“I wish they’d put Prince Namor on the tube
Hold on I think I have to puke
There’s a spot in the corner where I always go
I like to feed the flies that I know”
4. “Hybrid Moments”
Sometimes Danzig’s verses read more like an invitation or energizing cheer. Consider, for example, “Hybrid Moments,” whose earnest come-on beckons listeners to share their pleasure—and pain—with the band.
“If you’re gonna scream, scream with me
Moments like this never last”
3. “Who Killed Marilyn?”
It’s not as elegant as Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” but Glenn’s ode to Marilyn Monroe salutes the fallen ‘60s sex symbol with style…and ponders whether politicians, police, or Rat-Packers like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin might’ve had a hand in the starlet’s untimely demise.
“5:25 August 5th 1962
Found her lying on her bed
Her face all turning blue
Think it was an overdose?
Could it have been the Pack
Could it have been the Kennedys
Was it L.A.P.D?”
2. “Where Eagles Dare”
The Misfits could be vulgar, but they were always visceral…and invigorating. This carpe diem yarn challenges youngsters to self-actualize, be their best selves, and rise to every occasion instead of shrinking into one’s safe place like a schmuck.
“Let’s test your threshold of pain
Let’s see how long you last
I ain’t no god@mn son of a bitch
You better think about it, baby”
This Beware EP fight song reappeared on Collection II in 1995 and The Misfits’ coffin-shaped box set in 1996 (as did alternate versions of the above selections). Leave it to pugnacious Glenn to find just the right words to warn you about messing with him and his band. He promises he’ll drop you…but leaves you to imagine how he’s gonna do it.
“Inside your feeble brain
There’s probably a whore
If you don’t shut your mouth
You’re gonna feel the floor”