A Song's Alter Ego

by Kenneth Rayman on November 4, 2017
Have you ever heard a song you like performed acoustically and been blown away? To me, it can give the song an entirely different vibe, flow, and even enhance or change its story. The greatest example of this overall, in my life, has been in hard rock music. Music by bands that you may associate with imagery that you find distasteful or not compatible with your beliefs can have a transformative effect.

One of my first ever creative writing posts was on Marilyn Manson. I grew up not liking him; not because of the imagery, but his rendition of “Sweet Dreams” was too loud. I never knew the subject of his lyrical content or his standpoint, just the image that society placed on him. My first Manson song was “Coma White.” I expected to hear lyrics with vivid grotesque imagery but what I got was a story of societal pressure pushing someone to self harm and asking the one engaging in self harm to take a look at what they are doing to themselves based on someone else point of view that shouldn’t matter.

I would later find out that Marilyn had a traumatic childhood experience, that mirrored my own, with religion and I listened to more of his music and thought critically about the imagery. I began to see the double imagery that he creates that tells one story to his detractors and another to his fans and those that have the same pain as he and I. When I watched his biography on A&E he revealed his dark depression that almost killed him and they played an acoustic version on the lead single “Leave A Scar.” His art took yet a new form and I was amazed how the removal of any electronica took his lyrics and gave them new life.

The same goes for the band Staind and their singer Aaron Lewis. They were once regarded, erroneously, as satanic. Their music was heavy and fast paced with scratchy, screaming vocals. But a hidden track on their debut album, “Excess Baggage,” showed a different side of their music. Their next album was anchored by an acoustic live performance of a song that Aaron didn’t think would be a hit. The song that made me stop and rewind, though, was the acoustic version of “Fill Me Up” on Aaron’s solo stage tour that sounded like a completely different song in itself; then his original “Vicious Circles” that was part of his transition to Country music was a story of pain that was or can be turned to beauty referencing Van Gogh’s paintings and his own torment.

Maybe it’s my creativity or it’s my love of being analytical about my passions but I have had personal development come from some unusual places that benefited me greatly. I will post the Marilyn Manson article I wrote a long time ago here later to illustrate my point on him and personal development more precisely.