365 Days of Mike Patton: “Midlife Crisis” (part 2), Faith No More (1992)

“Midlife Crisis” isn’t about a midlife crisis at all. Apparently, the song is about Madonna. That notion comes from Mike Patton himself.

“The song is based on a lot of observation and a lot of speculation. But in sort of a pointed way it’s kind of about Madonna…” Patton said, via an old FNM Q&A site. “I think it was a particular time where I was being bombarded with her image on TV and in magazines and her whole schtick kind of speaks to me in that way … like she’s going through some sort of problem. It seems she’s getting a bit desperate.”

As I wrote about earlier this week, I took a listen to “Midlife Crisis” at the end of a difficult day, so it’s kind of strange to read Patton also explain it this way: “It’s more about creating false emotion, being emotional, dwelling on your emotions and in a sense inventing them.”

“Midlife Crisis” was the first single released off FNM’s masterpiece of an album Angel Dust, and it’s the only song the band released that rose to No. 1 on the (modern rock) Billboard charts. It’s a pretty stunning accomplishment, but I bet if you asked 100 people who enjoy music what they remember about Faith No More, most, if not all, would say, “Epic” and (definitely) not “Midlife Crisis.”

To me, “Midlife Crisis” is good; it’s a song I enjoy hearing. But it’s nowhere close to my favorite. In fact, I just looked through Angel Dust’s track listing, and I would probably rank “Midlife Crisis” somewhere around No. 10 out of 12 songs. It’s not terrible. I mean, I’m not turning it off if it shows up on my song shuffle. But I’m not going out of my way to listen to it—unless, I guess, I’m having a tough day and I need some reassurance that my impending midlife crisis is an invention of my mind.

But man, other people just LOVE it. Consequence of Sound wrote that it was FNM’s best song, explaining, “This song has metal, pop, avant-garde, a musically united front with more facets than a diamond. It’s addictive and throbbing, your head on cocaine, your heaven and hell. It’s the Faith No More song. Angel dust, indeed.”

Guitar World even proclaimed FNM’s performance of it as one of the 10 greatest metal performances in late night TV history when Patton and company invaded Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in 1993.

Fair enough. Even if it barely cracks my top 10 on Angel Dust, I’ll still rock out to it. And apparently so do many, many others.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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

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