Faith No More don’t do romance. They don’t do love songs. They don’t do personal.
Certainly in the Mike Patton era, the lyrics to Faith No More songs have largely eschewed the personal – and indeed the biographical. Both the music and the lyrics are instead created as scenes rather than personal sketches or deep revelations into the soul. Mike Patton told Rock Hard in 2015:
“I like creating fictional characters and trying to appropriate their psychology…They are little films. To be totally frank, I do not know exactly myself what some of my lyrics say because I try before anything else to follow the music. When I discover a new song, I imagine the sounds and the notes on top. Only then do I try to find the words which come the closest as possible to what I have heard in my head.”
So finding traditional love songs in the Faith No More oeuvre is not a straightforward task. Nonetheless, with the help of some covers, here’s a top 10 for Valentine’s Day.
10 Spanish Eyes
A cover provoked by Bill Gould’s spell of listening to San Francisco oldie easy-listening station Magic 61, Spanish Eyes was originally recorded by Al Martino in 1965 and is a reworking of a song called Moon Over Naples released the same year. The FNM version was released as the B-side of Ricochet on most UK and European releases in May 1995. The song was recorded, like all King for a Day B-sides at Bill Gould’s studio – and is one of the only Faith No More recordings to feature Dean Menta on guitar. It has never been played live.
(More here from FNM Followers / photo by Patton Mad)
9 This Guy’s in Love with You
“Who doesn’t love some Burt Bacharach?” asked Mike Patton as he introduced this cover on the band’s 2015 BBC Radio 1 session. Patton adores the classic composer – “If you don’t like his stuff, you don’t know shit” he told Kerrang in 1997 – while Roddy Bottum added at the same BBC session: “Its a song with a real twist. He’s such a crafty songwriter. We’ve always loved this song and this is the first time we’ve ever recorded the song.”
For a song which became such a staple of their live show, Faith No More did not play This Guy until right near the end of the 1.0 era – on 16 September 1997 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.
8 The Crab Song
Chuck Mosley‘s lyrics tended to the autobiographical much more than Mike Patton’s. Certainly, Faith No More, while often hitting the depths of misanthropy, have rarely sounded so out and out melancholic as on this track. Written by Chuck (lyrics) and Bill and Mike Bordin (music), the track was released on Introduce Yourself in 1987 and has remained a live favourite ever since. It is emblematic of IY era Faith No More: Chuck ad-libs, moody synth wash, plangent bass, dramatic segue into all-out thrash. And the perfect Valentine’s Day lyrics:
“Hurts, hurts, hurts like a like a motherfucker
Love, it hurts, it kills, like a sonofabitch”
Here’s a very early live version – from 1985
7 Glory Box
Our final cover. Faith No More, like the rest of the world, couldn’t resist trip-hop in the mid-1990s and offered up this perfect cover of the sublime Glory Box from Portishead’s Dummy. FNM even went full-on Bristol on their 1997 release Album of the Year with Stripsearch the perfect trip-rock song (Bill Gould Keybord magazine 1997: “The loop in the beginning made such a difference. Before we put it in, the song sounded more like Queensryche. But after the loop, it sounded more like Portishead or something. It gave it a darker, different slant. It didn’t sound like a rock band anymore.”). Anyway, here’s the iconic version of Glory Box with Patton bathing in all of Santiago’s spittle at the Monsters of Rock Chile in 1995, the last of the 13 times they would play the song live.
Seemingly a reference to the Kosovan capital, the final song on Faith No More final pre-split album was a fitting farewell and another stunning evocation of mood. That came mostly in the music but the lyrics also suggest a parting of lovers:
In every flower bed
In every marriage bed
I’ll be with you
I’m watching you
5 Be Aggressive
Probably more of a sex song than a love song per se, the lyrics for this famously homoerotic Angel Dust track were penned by Roddy Bottum before he came out as gay in 1993. I’ll include it as a love song purely for this line which at least suggests temporary infatuation:
“You’re my flavor of the week”
4 Underwater Love
A metal-based Onion-style satire site once claimed that a woman in Wisconsin had tried to get this song banned due to it apparently encouraging children to become mermaids. The song, of course, makes no such allusions but does contain just enough darkness beneath its oh so shiny surface to make such stories credible. In a rare early explanation of his lyrics or perhaps a bluff, Patton told Kerrang! in 1990: “Underwater Love was basically about murdering someone you love.”
But in the spirit of the day that’s in it, we’ll imagine that these lyrics have a more romantic meaning:
It’s wonderful how the surface ripples
But you’re perfect and I cannot breathe
Forever longing to make you mine
But I can’t escape your stare
Hold me closer, keep me near
My underwater love
Hold me closer, keep me near
I’ll never get enough
Here’s a a 1988 demo version – with significantly different lyrics
The band have not played the song live since November 1992.
3 I Won’t Forget You
The lyrics initially read like the sweet and sentimental ballad of a loser in love. Mike Patton’s brutal and pained delivery suggest something more menacing, with the metaphorical hell of abandonment the most innocent explanation.
You never love someone
Only what they leave behind
And I won’t forget you
I Won’t Forget You is a Patton/Gould composition recorded during the King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime sessions. It appeared on Who Cares a Lot, the awfully titled compilation from 1998, and it has never been played live.
2 From Out of Nowhere
Probably Faith No More’s finest pop moment. Track one from The Real Thing is a song that could and should have propelled them to mainstream success months before Epic finally did. Keyboard-led, hooky, catchy, those Patton vocals and eventually some Jim Martin crunching adornment, it is The Real Thing in three minutes, 21 seconds.
Obsession rules me
I’m yours from the start
I know you see me
Our eyes interlock
Jim and Faith No More Followers have everything you ever need to know about the song here so I’ll not add much more , only to extract these quotes from Roddy Bottum and Mike Patton on the song’s meaning.
Roddy: “It seems to be about a chance meeting, and how chance plays a role in interaction”,
Patton: “Jello shots, hermetic philosophy, Ptolemaic cosmology… you know, your average commie/junkie jibber-jabber.”
Here’s the band “performing” the song on UK TV institution Top of the Pops in 1990.
1 She Loves Me Not
Regarded by reviewers as either cheesy or soulful when it came out in 1997 on Album of the Year, the straightforward romantic soul of She Loves Me Not was initially met with ambivalence by the band themselves.
The track was written by Bill Gould, Mike Patton and Mike Bordin, and Bill gave their take on the song to Keyboard magazine in 1997:
“This song almost didn’t make it on the record. We almost didn’t even record vocals for it because it’s so different from all of the other songs. I wrote this song, and I was almost embarrassed to play it for anybody in the band because it’s so soft – but at the same time it’s a good song. It’s like a Boyz II Men song of something. I didn’t play it for anybody for, like, a half a year, and then finally I played it for Puffy. He thought we should give it a try, so I gave it to Patton, and he said, ‘I wrote words, but they’re pretty over-the-top.’ But we went forward with it, and he really sang his ass off.”
Some of those over-the-top words:
I’m here, alone
On the the telephone line
I’m right where you want me to be
And I’ll wait alone and never ask why
Ill be where you want me to be