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31 DAYS OF FAITH NO MORE: “HELPLESS”

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Spurred by a lazy crossword clue in The Onion (36 down, four letters: “Faith No More’s only hit”), MetalSucks contributor Anso DF dedicates every single day in August to celebration and exploration of the San Francisco alt-metal greats. Here we prove that history’s greatest band landed more than one commercial hit (crossword answer: “Epic” natch), we revel in FNM’s embarrassing wealth of winning album tracks (themselves often fit for chart topping), and we dip into the staggering best of the b-sides (ditto). Along the way, we survey the context of FNM’s big break (amid similarly seminal acts Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, and Ween) to post-Nevermind, panic-based music commerce in which the brilliantly versatile, fearless powerhouse band operated until their 1998 demise. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Song “Helpless”

Written by Patton (L); Patton, Bordin, Gould (M)

Released 1997

Appears on Album Of The Year album

Produced by Roli Mosimann (Swans, Wiseblood), Billy Gould

Guitars by Jon Hudson

Key lyric ”I even tried to get arrested today/But everyone looked the other way.”

Single? Almost. “She Loves Me Not” and “Helpless” were slated as fourth and fifth AotY singles; each was shelved.

The climate To love Album Of The Year-era FNM is to find poignance in really slight, quiet verses. And in choruses where a few words are stretched across a lot of beats. And in totally unshowy keyboard and guitar parts. And in disassociation, disaffection, and doooooom. See: “Helpless.”

Awesome song elevated to supra-awesomeness by wow awesome lyrics! A man first stands at the ocean, then in a garden, next on the street, and finally before a fountain. At none of these places is he of any consequence, nor does really relate (“I wonder why”), but he’s not all grunge/fatalist cuz he appreciates all those inanimate things that he encounters. That’s to say he sees how the world works and wonders how and when his life will work likewise. Cough okay I sound like a freshman poetry class. Let’s just move on to the next section. See you down there.

Didja know? I chuckle at the thought of “Helpless” getting released to rock radio as a single. I mean, what programmer would rotate a song with that mournful, late-occurring chorus? And that culminates with a guy screeching for help (not, like, metaphorically either)? And whose third pre-chorus finds the singer opting not to sing but to whistle? Yeah “Helpless” would sound rad between a lite beer jingle and DJ Woody McBoner’s Drivetime Panty Raid.

–ADF

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METALSUCKS’ 31 DAYS OF FAITH NO MORE

11 “Helpless”

10 “Smaller And Smaller” (read)

9 “Digging The Grave” (read)

“From Out Of Nowhere” (read)

“Last Cup Of Sorrow” (read)

6 “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies” (read)

“Caffeine” (read)

“Falling To Pieces” (read)

“Stripsearch” (read)

2 ”Ricochet” (read)

1 ”Land Of Sunshine” (read)

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