In a new interview with SPIN, Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine and James LoMenzo were asked about threats to artistic expression today, using the misinterpretation of the lyrics to the band’s 1994 hit “A Tout le Monde” and its true meaning as the launchpad for this topic.
Lyrical interpretation can be a double-edged sword. The subjective nature of interpretation allows the a musician’s words to resonate with people of all walks of life in different ways, helping to build a wide fanbase, but misinterpretation can also yield unintended consequences.
“It was basically about a dream I had where — my mom had died suddenly, and it was very shocking — and in my dream, my mom was able to come back to earth and say one thing only. And that one thing was, ‘I love you,'” Mustaine explains (transcribed by Metal Injection, “And I thought that would be great if I was able when I go to heaven to come back and say one thing to the people who I love – I would want to say, ‘I love you.’ I wouldn’t want to say, like, ‘Don’t touch that’ – you know, something stupid. I would rather it be something meaningful.”
For Megadeth, the Youthanasia track “A Tout le Monde” (which translates to “To Everybody” has come under fire in two high-profile incidents, one in the ’90s and another in the mid 2000s.
MTV elected to ban the music video for the power ballad, wrongly interpreting the lyrical message and visuals as those that glamorized suicide. In 2006, a man killed one person and injured 19 others in a shooting at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada before taking his own life. On the day of this shooting, the man posted “A Tout le Monde” on a blog, which led to many blaming Megadeth for the tragedy.
Mustaine continues, “Unfortunately, in Canada, there was some controversy around the song, but I handled it. I said I was not going to let that guy try and take my song away from the people I wrote it for. And that thing kind of went away – trying to blame us for that. It was much like the Judas Priest thing that happened a long time ago [referring to when Priest went to trial to prove they were not liable for the deaths of two young men who cited the band’s music as the reason they killed themselves]. But I think the song’s a beautiful song, and people love it.”
“One thing that I try not to do is tell people what the song means. I tell them what the lyric is, but I don’t tell them you have to have this interpretation,” Mustaine also notes, meaning that “A Tout le Monde” is perhaps a rare exception, at least in regards to what the song is concretely not about.
Watch the full interview below
Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine + James LoMenzo Interview With SPIN
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