Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Putting Holes In Happiness" Unraveled

On a very special request I did for a friend, I decided to unravel "Putting Holes In Happiness". And in the act of doing so I found out more things than I could ever imagine.

Amazing song, rather alusive video. It seems that the song title is an old concept that surfaced on a journal on MM´s website, back in 2003. Originally it was labeled as "Putting Holes Into Happiness" according to an essay he was working on for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with artist and photographer Gottfried Helnwein.

The journal entry is as follows:

First use of the term "Putting Holes Into Happiness"

"You came to see the mOBSCENE..."

I have just returned from seeing the film, IRREVERSIBLE, by Gaspar Noe. He is one of my favorites and the fact that a third of the audience walked out, is a testimony to its strength. Chances are this won't be shown in the USA.
I've been just busy preparing women, animals as well as songs for the tour, video and the short film that will be featured on the bonus DVD for THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE.

The details of our upcoming SCABARET will be revealed soon but for now take a look at some agitprop such as : ROLLING STONE, REVOLVER, KERRANG, THE FACE, BLENDER, METAL HAMMER and a few others that have invaded my privacy.

The images Helnwein and I created for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME are accompanied by my essay, entitled:

"Putting Holes Into Happiness." Kneel down humble men and become the height of our children. Let your heart crawl into your knee and realize that all knowledge lives through imagination. This is the nursery business, always get a photocopy.

Our cultures may continue to disintegrate but we just rebuild with abusement parks, filming the process and replaying it as situation comedy. We wear ribbons, hold hands, celebrate and concentrate on camps that train our kindergartens to shout out "star-spangled" banter.

We will medicate the lunacy of "degenerate" art with heavy doses of old-fashioned (original recipe) family virtues.

"Let's make sure all of these offensive forms of entertainment are shown publicly, and burned immediately as a warning to us all!"

In the meantime, try to stay conscious. We are sitting in the EMERGENCY ROOM waiting for the doctor, a newly elected aesthetician, to come and pronounce his diagnosis. The grotesque, malignant cancer that is our expressions and our views is no longer the disease. We are being told that the sounds and images of art are now the symptoms of the creator. We as the artists, are now considered unhealthy and incurable.

Let me remind you that the deformed scar of one man, is "love's pretty dimple" to me. The generation that lived through WWII accepted the concept of "total violence" as a solution to the world's problems. The mathematics of creative suffering and the milk of human violence are the formulas that our grandparents bottled and passed down to our parents.

These are the "traditional" values that have built "protective," moral walls around our children's world. And it is, indeed, a small world after all.


(photo courtesy of Perou)

[posted 3/3/2003 U.S.A.]

This essay has several different interpretations, one of them has to do a lot with the visual style of Gottfried Helnwein who is known for mixing images of children and imagery from WWII. According to this picture found on his site, says: ALBUM COVERS THAT NEVER WHERE, a supposedely alternative cover for The Golden Age of Grotesque. Judging by the date the album was released and the date of the journal post it makes sense to say that this was to be a highly controversial image for the US censors; thus, the picture resurfaced in the album art of Lest We Forget.

I was a Child 2009,photograph by Gottfried Helnwein

From here we could understand two concepts: "happiness" would be an alternative name for the innocence of a child while "putting holes" could be understood as a slang for "shooting".

Fast forwarding to January 5th 2007, the song which we are discussing was, according to Manson, was written on his birthday after breaking up with burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese. This was to be a major turning point in his career and personal life.

Let´s take a closer look at the lyrics:

The sky was blonde like her
It was a day to take the child
Out back and
shoot it.
I could have buried all my dead
Up in her cemetery head
She had dirty word witchcraft
I was in the deep end of her skin.
Then, it seemed like a one car car wreck
But I knew it was a horrid
Ways to make the tiny satisfaction disappear.

Since the songs were put together as a sort of personal diary it is the second song after "If I Was Your Vampire". Blonde sky could be referring to the sunrise. It´s surprsing to know that Dita is a natural blonde so it could also mean that he was referring her real self and not the public persona. The next part continues to play with the concept of the "inner child" in Manson that could have been compromised during and after the marriage. Take a look at this quote I found from the first installment of "The Crow":

"Childhood's over the moment you know you're gonna die."

"Word witchcraft" could be a loose reference to magic and the Occult where words repeated or pronounced in a certain way make things happen, in this case "a horrid tragedy".

When were you happiest?

About 15 minutes ago: I'm on medication and it's
starting to wear off. (The Guardian Q&A Marilyn Manson, interview 2009)

"Blow out the candles
On all my frankensteins.
At least my death wish
will come true.
You taste like Valentine's and
We cry,
You're like a
I should have picked the photograph
It lasted longer than you. "

The next part of the lyrics is addressing the other important part of Manson´s life which is of course his musical and artistic career. As he stated in several interviews he wasn´t himself and couldn´t create anymore. The "Frankesteins" could also be a nickname for the fans that sympathize or empathize with his persona or personal demons.

"I should have picked the photograph, it lasted longer than you.." This last part echoes with the one found in the 2003 essay (always get a photocopy) which can also be seen in the booklet next to this same song:

The word is written on top of a picture of his left wrist pointing to the spiral heart tattoo and what seems to be a series of waves which can be later compared to an electrocardiogram in the same booklet. Probably this is referring to the idea of heartbreak and make it last longer as an unconscious form of psychological torture.

"Putting holes in happiness.
We'll paint the future black
If it needs
any color.
My death sentence is a story
Who'll be digging when you
finally let me die?
The romance of our assassination
If you're Bonnie,
I'll be your Clyde.
But the grass is greener here and
I can see all of
your snakes.
You wear your ruins well
Please run away with me to hell."

Understanding the concept of innocence lost this next part is referring to the aftermath of a breakup which would be a deep depression followed by suicidal thoughts, along with fantasies that this relationship could have been something like being partners in crime.

"Blow out the candles
On all my frankensteins.
At least my death wish
will come true.
You taste like Valentine's and
We cry,
You're like a
I should have picked the photograph
It lasted longer than

Again, the lyrics play with the concept of nostalgia, holding on to "happy thoughts" like birthdays through a photograph. This could have been also resolved by painting several portraits of Dita.


"Putting Holes In Happiness" was slightly inspired by a movie made by German film director Fritz Lang named "M", starring Peter Lorre portraying a serial killer nicknamed "The Vampire of Dusseldorf". It was said to be inspired by true events. The killer´s victims where usually children. Since his crimes were so well planned eventually he is tagged with the letter "M" in his coat which would stand in German for Mörder.

The "M" on Manson´s back echoes the tragic events of Columbine as being accused of murder

Little Elsie sings a gruesome song: "just you wait a little while, the nasty man in black will come, with his little chopper he´ll chop you out."

This still which flashes for less than a second is shown in the video, along with other vampirical references.

The children included give the impression of also being German...

Manson makes a pose of holding a gun against the girl

Lisa Porter, the model

In the opening sequence of the video Manson holds a candle as a reference to the lyric "blow out the candles on all my Frankensteins".

Manson characterized as the killer in "M" seems to be linked to a recurring subject which has been observed throughout his career, specially since "Antichrist Superstar" or a sort of Frankestein effect in which the monster is threathened to be killed but at the very bottom he still has a heart.

Hans pronounces at the end of the movie, "One has to keep closer watch over the children. All of you." This also reminds us of the events of him being accused for the Columbine murders.


It was released as EP and its album cover features Manson´s eyes with heart-shaped pupils. These could also be the holes into happiness...

Around that time Manson also did several portraits of Evan, specially this one which is named "Someone Should Put Hearts Over Her Eyes" which bears similarities with the picture above.

In the "Rape of the World" tour the song was played against an animated background with the artist´s heart-shaped eyes emphasizing another idea that innocence lies in a child´s eyes.


As as a summary we included this video interview in Germany where Manson had a temporary villa which happened to be used for the album artwork in the blood covered walls.


Watch "Putting Holes In Happiness" for more interesting references ...

Hope this helps, thanks Judith!

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