365 Days of Mike Patton: “Dead Goon,” Mr. Bungle (1991)

If you like disturbing Mr. Bungle themes and lyrics, “Dead Goon” could be exactly what you want to hear. It’s the final tune off Mr. Bungle’s self-titled debut, and at 10 minutes long, it’s a big of a slog.

But it’s worth listening to at least once. Especially if you like hearing a first-person account of a person who accidently kills himself due to auto asphyxiation.

If you can get past the early passage that sounds like a comedy tune performed by Les Claypool and a carnival barker, the song opens into something special about two minutes in.

And honestly, I kind of forgot about it. This song comes so late in the album, and I enjoy so many other aspects of the record that I almost never listen to “Dead Goon” on purpose. But I should, because Patton’s voice is pure and that bass line is funky.

And then it gets carnival-y again (it actually sounds almost the same as Disco Volante’s “Platypus”). And then back to the soft vocals I really love. And back and forth.

The song is almost really great. But it’s hard for me to go from extreme to extreme and back again in the span of a few minutes. Sometimes, I love that aspect of Mr. Bungle. This one, though, is a little jarring. And then there’s that creaking rope at about the 5-minute mark—which, now that we know what the song is about, is an interesting detail.

The lyrical content isn’t the only thing that disturbed Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn about this tune. As he explained on his website, “Dead Goon” was a pain. (For the record, I’m taking his explanation as serious, though he could totally be joking or playing it a little tongue-in-cheek.)

Wrote Dunn, “This bass-line was written by drummer Danny Heifetz (no bassist in their right mind would dream it up ). You will notice that it is basically two chromatic scales starting an octave apart (C#) and collapsing (one ascending, one descending) to a unison (F#). If you play this line on piano with one finger from each hand you will realize what a ridiculous concoction it is. On bass, however, it’s not so easy. It took me a long time to figure out how to play it, and a very short time to forget it.”

If you’d like to see a YouTube cover of that bass line, this dude has you covered.

Previously from Mr. Bungle:

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

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