Released on: Generation Terrorists (Album #1) Columbia Records, 10 February 1992
The first of the arguably underrated final three tracks of Generation Terrorists, ‘Crucifix Kiss’ is also one of the most bitterly aggressive songs of the early period Manics discography. As indicated by its title, the target of the song’s bile is religion, and specifically Christianity. As a leftist band, the Manics’ ill will towards religious institutions is probably unsurprising and would manifest itself a number of times over the years but ‘Crucifix Kiss’ is the most focused assault on them in the band’s history.
Although there is nothing exceptional about the by-now-familiar barrage of furious riffs that make up the musical aspect of the song, the lyrics are definitely worthy of a close examination. One or two lines have often been singled out and used as a means to dismiss the song entirely; while “christen me Fuhrer Nazarene” is perhaps in slightly poor taste, it is also an interesting parallel with John Lennon’s comment that all people have Jesus and Hitler inside of them and that our task is “to work on the good part”.
In fact, most of the lines in the song contain within them some kind of valid criticism of Christianity. Line by line, ‘Crucifix Kiss’ confronts religion’s advocacy of passiveness, concentration of wealth, and suppression of free thought. The line “check your billboard for my tour” is most likely a reference to the heyday of cynical, corrupt American televangelism in the late 1980s which was more famously attacked in a 1991 single by Genesis, ‘Jesus He Knows Me’.
‘Crucifix Kiss’ is also notable for its explicit reference to the Bible; the lyrics advise listeners to read Luke chapter 6, and proceeds to ostensibly quote from it (“and if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometre, carry it two”). However, this passage about facilitating your own oppression does not appear in Luke 6. It has been suggested that the line is a paraphrasing of Luke 6 by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, but the line actually appears in Matthew 5 of the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible (“If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles”).
‘Crucifix Kiss’ can be seen as one of the earliest examples of the Manics’ increasingly focused and coherent lyrical style that would develop on both Gold Against the Soul and especially The Holy Bible (which itself was clearly strongly influenced by religious thought). A crucifix does of course appear on the album cover, being worn by Richey. Originally, the band wanted to use Pisschrist, an artwork by Andres Serrano, as the album cover. This features a plastic figure of Jesus suspended in urine, but proved much too expensive.
The opening quote is spoken by Patrick Jones and is taken from his poem ‘Torying’.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“believe in tomorrow / but not today”
Fuhrer – German for “leader”, used to refer to Adolf Hitler after he came to power in Nazi Germany in 1933.
Nazarene – term for Jesus, as a reference to his upbringing in Nazareth, now in Israel.
Blasphemy – term for statements or behaviours thought to show insufficient reverence for a deity or religious figure.