Alternative rock wunderkinds Garbage, have made their career on inspiring, uniting, and entertaining their fans for over 20 years. Fronted by the eclectic and fiery Shirley Manson, Garbage has cultivated a diverse fan base over the years, many of whom have been with them since their more humble beginnings. While their music has addressed several issues and topics, Manson’s lyricism has always been one of the most intriguing aspects of their art alongside their unique production skills. Great lyrics can make a connection, compel emotions, and tackle even the most uncomfortable social issues deftly, and Garbage has managed to do all this and more over the course of their career. Now, two decades and six studio albums later, AXS takes a look at the top 5 best Garbage lyrics.
Garbage released their latest album, Strange Little Birds (2016) and with it delivered new material with the same energy and skill fans had come to expect from the alternative outfit. In “Empty,” Manson sings about getting lost in a relationship and trying to maintain some sense self. Sometimes the effort or idea that is put into an endeavor never comes to fruition and it can leave you feeling lost or like you’re flailing. The perception of failure and actually failing; however, are two very different things.
“I get tired of trying
Ideas die on the vine
And I feel like a fake
I lie awake believing
That somehow I keep failing”
4. “Breaking Up The Girl”
This modish, upbeat tune is from the Beautiful Garbage (2001) album. These lyrics encapsulate the spirit of making the most out of your life and not getting weighed down by the world or others. In a world where anything can happen, old age is a luxury not afforded to everyone, but living your best life and seizing the moment can make every moment that much better.
“In this dangerous world
There's an art to growing old
3. “#1 Crush”
This song comes from the B-side of the “Vow” single release and was later included on their greatest hits album, Absolute Garbage (2007). The song also made an appearance on the soundtrack of the 1996 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. In these lyric, and the whole song really, Manson is singing about the extremes to which one will go for love. How often do you sacrifice your own well-being to shield the ones you love?
“I will burn for you
Feel pain for you
I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart
And tear it apart “
2. “Sex Is Not The Enemy”
The message in this single from Bleed Like Me (2005) is glaringly clear. For years society and the government have tried to either criminalize, objectify, or monetize sexuality, especially female sexuality. The fact that being sexually liberal and not confining to society’s standards leads to things like “slut-shaming” is an incredibly short-sighted double standard, and here Manson is saying that she is owning her sexuality.
“No matter what they’re telling me
I won't feel dirty and buy into their misery
I won't be shamed cause I believe that love is free
It fuels the heart and sex is not my enemy”
1. “Bleed Like Me”
These lyrics come from the title track to 2005’s Bleed Like Me. It is a solemn and haunting sonic journey through the misery of a cast of characters. This comes from the first verse of the song wherein the character in question is obviously struggling with an eating disorder and the questions of whether anyone else feels the same way. The whole song addresses these kinds of issues and the need to have your pain understood.
"Avalanche is sullen and too thin
She starves herself to rid herself of sin
And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin
And she says:
Hey baby can you bleed like me?
C'mon baby can you bleed like me"