Why hello there, Filthy Dreams cult followers! I mean, readers…READERS! I swear, this website isn’t just an elaborate scheme to indoctrinate you into our tacky and trashy ways to create a camp cult utopia somewhere in the wilderness like…hm…Sweden! I hear they’ve got good psychedelics. I’m ready to deck myself out in flowers, and burn some bear skin-sporting people up in Ikea-made structures. Hey, it’s all for the next harvest! It’s eco-friendly! Or better yet, we could overtake a pearl-clutching semi-Trumpy small town like the Rajneesh, and horrify the locals with the loud animalistic yet erotic sounds of our free love. The options are endless.
Like John Waters wrote in his final chapter of Role Models, who wouldn’t want to put cult leader on their tax form? He’s certainly not alone. Though John has never quite made the transition from cult filmmaker to cult leader (though he’s certainly skirting the edge of that possibility with the yearly Camp John Waters. I’m not sure I’m ready yet for filth-themed spirit activities, but that’s just me), he’s been outdone by Kanye West. Apparently not satisfied with giving the world his iPhone passcode while in the Oval Office or jumping on tables singing the praises of head space strango Elon Musk, Kanye West’s recent transformation into a Yeezy-sporting and selling Jim Jones has been a spectacular thing to witness. First, there were his A-list only Sunday Services, hocking exclusivity and wacko religious fervor to the Hollywood set, which then expanded into inflicting his capitalist Peoples Temple onto the masses.
Clearly the next step in this cult madness had to be an album, which dropped last week after many delays entitled Jesus Is King. While the album certainly deserves a longer Filthy Dreams dive into this benchmark in our contemporary trash religiosity, Jesus Is King follows in the footsteps of many cult-related musical forays. For some reason, releasing an album is a tried and true cult pastime, one that I’ve always wanted to blast at parties. Imagine the shocked horror of party guests when they realize the song they’ve been grinding to is that old standby Charlie Manson! Look, even psychotics and sociopaths can carry a tune!
But, for some sad reason, these murderous, unhinged, or at best, unsettling cult musical classics have never made it to party playlists. What a missed opportunity! But, missed no longer. This Halloween, I wanted to give some special attention to the special sonic sounds of cults, which would be perfect to alienate…I mean, entertain! your party guests. If Midsommar taught us one thing, we all want to join a cult. So this year, transform your Halloween party into an experiment in group hysteria and madness. See who cracks first! Serve Flavor-Aid, the true chosen drink of Jonestown! See who can creepy-crawly the best! Or just see how fast you can clear a room with any of these musical numbers!
1. Kanye West “Closed On Sunday” from Jesus Is King
With an uber-sincere guitar-strumming beginning with the low hum of a choir that probably didn’t know the theme of this song, a naive listener might think “Closed On Sunday” wasn’t, in fact, about blessed chicken. I’m talking, of course, about homophobic chicken shack, Chick-Fil-A. But, they would be sadly mistaken. This isn’t exactly your Kirk Franklin classic gospel album. “Closed on Sunday…You my Chick-Fil-A” deadpan announces Kanye, begging the question: Who is his Chick-Fil-A? Is it Kim K.? I can’t imagine she’d want to be compared to some greasy phobe chicken! Is it Jesus? Is Jesus like waffle fries? Would Jesus have liked waffle fries? Where can I get some waffle fries that aren’t tossed in the fryer by bigots? When I first saw the lyrics passed around online, my brain wouldn’t let me believe that it was true. But, it was. Hallelujah! He has risen and brought fast food! In his looney ramblings, Kanye also announces that “Jezebel don’t stand a chance.” Huh? And if that weren’t enough, the final screeched “Chick-Fil-A” into the abyss is transcendent, only because you know Ye is completely serious about it. It’ll have you laugh-crying into your secretly purchased sweet tea.
2. Peoples Temple Choir’s “Down From His Glory” from He’s Able
Speaking of Kanye, didn’t he really miss a grand opportunity to give a much-deserved shout-out to his cult leader forefather Jim Jones by naming his album Ye’s Able, after the Peoples Temple Choir’s classic record He’s Able, rather than that dull as dust snooze-nomer Jesus Is King? Maybe Kanye didn’t want to admit what we all really know, He’s Able slaps way harder than Jesus Is King ever could. I’m not even joking. Traditional gospel inflected with a bit of 60s and early 70s rock n’ roll, He’s Able is only deeply unsettling once you realize that many of the unlucky yet quite talented musicians on this record would end up scattered around the jungle only a couple years later thanks to a psychotic Hoosier Father with delusions of grandeur, a serious drug problem, and some quite frankly iconic sunglasses. And ok, the fact that He’s Able is likely more about Jones than Jesus is a tad worrisome. However, this observation about the shocking quality of He’s Able doesn’t exactly extend to Jones’s own appearance on the record, bellowing out the standard “Down From His Glory” with pill-infused reckless abandon. Sure it’s not the best song, but it certainly is the most startling, which makes it a perfect party tune. See who will succumb first to a fanatical religious fervor! Even better, use some of your party prep leftovers to pretend to cure cancer in your guests who aren’t really sick, just like Jim used to do! Talk about a parlor trick!
3. The Manson Family “Sings The Songs Of Charles Manson”
If He’s Able stuns with its quality, the Manson Family’s sing-songy album “The Manson Family Sings The Songs of Charles Manson” pulsates with pure psychopathic energy. Now this is what you’d imagine for a cult album: off-key on-edge collective lunacy straight from Spahn Ranch. You can just imagine their wide glazed-eyed stares. After Manson’s own release Lie, the family got together in 1970 during the murder trials to record a love letter to Charlie in his own words. Now, this was made at the same time those legendary Manson girls were showcasing their grand performance on the most coveted stage in America, by that I obviously mean, the courtroom. Luckily, our fellow ghoul John Waters was there to observe the action, which gives some insight into the time in which this demented album was recorded. As he writes in Shock Value, “One of the killers referred to the trial as ‘this play,’ and it was obvious from the start that they were out to get sensational reviews. The girls would first make sure the photographers got a scary shot of them as they made their split-second transfer from police van to courtroom as they sang Charlie’s songs…As they entered the courtroom, they always flirted with the spectators and after a few days began to wave at me. I’d wave back, but a mean police matron with a blond beehive hairdo would bark, ‘No personal communication!’ and I’d slump back in my seat.” And yes, since I know you’re wondering, Squeaky does contribute. Do I have specific song recommendations? Well, sure. My personal favorite is “I’ll Never Say Never To Always” (24:31), which sounds like a nursery rhyme for the criminally insane.
4. Charles Manson “Garbage Dump” from Lie
Though I’ve always loved the Manson girls more than Charlie himself who always came off like a hippie bore to me, Manson’s magnum opus “Garbage Dump” certainly deserves a nod this Halloween and a spin on the jukebox. Remind your party guests to reuse and recycle! I mean, talk about the trash aesthetic. Huh…wonder why Charlie’s musical aspirations never took off?!
5. David Koresh “The Rising Sun” from Songs for Grandpa
See, I told you all the cult/cult leaders had albums (with exception of Heaven’s Gate’s Marshall Applewhite, which, let’s be honest, is a missed opportunity. I would have loved to hear some intergalactic black and white sneaker space jams, but that’s beside the point. UPDATE: Apparently Herff Applewhite did record albums before his Heaven’s Gate days). Probably the most unlistenable of the bunch is Branch Davidian leader/mullet-haver David Koresh’s thin-voiced whine on his bizarrely titled Songs for Grandpa. Hell, I’d be stockpiling weapons too if I had to listen to this for too long, but that doesn’t mean it’s not perfect for your Halloween party this year. I mean, no party should end unless the U.S. government wages a full-blown inferno assault on your gathering!
6. Westboro Baptist Church “Santa Claus Will Take You To Hell”
Sure, sure, sure. I know what you’re thinking: why give space to these “God Hates Fags” phobes? Say what you will about the Westboro Baptist Church, their song parodies, baffling bastardizations of pop tunes such as Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” which they transform into “Whorish Face,” are gleefully perverse. And in case you’re wondering, the song goes, “You just got your whorish face (Show your filth to everybody).” Has a certain ring to it, no? Doesn’t it just sound like a song that would be sung in the damned town for Mortville in John Waters’s Desperate Living? Hell, those clowns may as well have made a Filthy Dreams anthem. But that’s not the song I want to highlight here, dear Filthy Dreams ghosties, because it’s Halloween, and that just means Christmas is right around the corner! I’m ready to dive headfirst into holiday mania! Deck the halls! When the Spirit of Saint Nick moves me, I always want to listen to something sweet, saccharine and homey–you know, songs that are perfect to settle in with the whole family in front of a crackling fire. Songs like “Santa Claus Will Take You To Hell”! Reminding others of their eternal damnation is obviously what the holidays are about, so why wait until after Halloween?
7. The Deplorable Choir “No SMOKIN’ Gun”
Content warning: This is the scariest one yet. I’ve always said that Trumpers are a cult. All the signs are there: a charismatic (ok..debatable) leader, followers who will parrot his obvious lies and crackpot falsehoods to anyone and everyone with no concern for truth, reason, or just a personal sense of shame, bizarre dogmas shouted at random (“Lock her up” Who even is her anymore?), and bad fashion choices (I mean, those red hats gotta go). And the Trump cult even has its own musical accompaniment. Sure, there were those creepy children dancers at Trump’s 2016 rallies, but I’m talking mainly about the YouTube sensations The Deplorable Choir–three white ladies (and sometimes a male extra from Deliverance) caterwauling propaganda in the form of country music. Yikes. Look, I’d much rather hang with the Manson Family than these blond broads singing songs about “God and Guns.” I’d certainly feel safer. While their songs like “Vote Republican” are perhaps more notable for their importance in this golden age of American trash we’re enduring, I have a special place in my heart for “No SMOKIN’ Gun” because I like my music to tell me that no, our President didn’t, in fact, collude with a foreign government (he did). It’s basically “But her emails” in a song. One of my favorite lines asserts that “General Flynn will be free!” You sure about that?