Remembered as the murders that ushered in the end of the peace and love era, the brutal slaying of seven people transformed charismatic cult leader and career criminal Charles Manson into a celebrity. Fueled by a cocktail of psychedelic drugs, paranoid delusions, and vengeance, Manson would kick off this murder spree by convincing members of his group to go out and kill everyone in the Tate/Polanski household.
The home on 10050 Cielo Drive had formerly been owned by music producer Terry Melcher who had been introduced to Manson through his friend Dennis Wilson, who allowed Manson and his group to stay with him for a while. During this time Wilson and Manson worked on creating music together and Melcher showed an interest in producing music with Manson. Manson later claimed that he was slighted after he failed to land the record deal Melcher had allegedly promised him.
Manson was unaware that the home had been sold to film director Roman Polanski and his new bride Sharon Tate, nor did it seem that Manson minded that the victims weren’t his original target. The revolution, as revealed to Manson in the Beatles’ White Album, had begun.
We all know how this story ends. Manson and his group members would go on to commit more senseless murders in order to bring on the race war Manson’s delusional doomsday prophecies foretold. Manson and most of the Family members behind the murders remain behind prison walls to this day.
Though he’s now 82-years-old, it would seem that even behind bars Manson never gave up on his music. Since his incarceration Manson has made no less than 23 albums, all released independently with the help of friends on the outside. Either as a way to prevent further glorifying a man who ordered multiple murders on his own behalf or because no one knows these things exist, very few people have spoken about these albums.
With that said, it should come to no surprise that Manson quietly released a new album on February 26, 2016 titled Walking In The Truth. It doesn’t have popular YouTube videos associated with it, there has been no radio play, and there’s no pretentious critics claiming that they’ve been a fan of Manson’s work since the 1998 CD release of Lie. But what he does have is a small fringe group of fans and defenders who take the time to update his website and sell all of his latest works on the website Band Camp.
Manson’s latest album is as outsider as one can get and to the untrained ear they’re the musings of a madman. Undisturbed by musical trends, Manson falls back to the DIY sounds of blown out 1960s blues fusion garage rock that set the foundation for the generations of punk rockers to follow. Listening beyond these lyrical word salads, the limitations of prison walls shine through loud and clear. The low roar of guards and inmates are Manson’s only backup singers and the slamming of the heavy, cold, metal doors are the unsteady beats of this unedited, unfiltered frolic into insanity.
The first track begins our journey with “Boxcar Willie,” a song that Manson initially struggles to find his voice, before describing himself as “a good looking preacher” who “sounds like he’s misplaced.” Manson focuses in on the injustices he feels he has faced and his dreams of someday being free.
In “Mountains Of My Mind” Manson picks up where he left off, bellowing romantic nostalgia for the life and freedom of famous hobos, as well as his own memories of riding the rails across the country. These softly sung daydreams gradually descend into the low growl of angry protest against the “snakes” who hammered the wedge between himself and his life on the outside.
This musical embodiment of self-pity carries on throughout the album, along with Manson’s quest to find some semblance of freedom. Jumping between being the victim and being the victimizer in the tracks “Computer Brain Baby,” “Jigger Jam,” and “Kamikaze Dreamer,” Manson continues to express his loneliness and anger, while attempting to maintain his image as a simple dreamer who only wanted love in the world.
This erratic flipflopping briefly comes to an end when the true Manson we know comes out in “Little Kids.” Manson’s racist prophecies sputter out in a blend of nonsense words and delusions of grandeur, before stepping back into a malaise of self-pity.
“Summer Road/I’m On Fire,” Manson again resumes the role of a bumbling fool who is oblivious to the circumstances that put him behind bars in the first place. This is later balanced by Manson’s posturing and believed moral superiority over the listener, leaving only the bewildering uncertainty of whether they should feel sorry for him or fear him.
This eight track rollercoaster ride comes to a grinding halt with “Hello To My Friends,” boldly portraying himself the purveyor of truth. A harmless old man who only wishes to perpetuate his messages of peace and live a quiet life. Walking In The Truth‘s final track is his plea to the public to let him “walk on by,” and seems to cut himself off before he once again descends into another rant.
Manson’s raw and erratic freestyle rambling may not be winning any Grammys anytime in the near future, but for anyone looking for an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of a real life boogieman, then this album, in conjunction with other music Manson has produced throughout the years, would be the place to start.