A Most Gruesome Soundtrack to John Wayne Gacy | Playlist
John Wayne Gacy ranks among the most infamous serial killers ever. Numerous musicians have written songs depicting his hellishness.
John Wayne Gacy lived a double life. To the naïve world until he was caught, the serial killer was a productive citizen. Notably, he dressed up as a clown, Pogo, for kids’ birthday parties. Okay that didn’t end up being harmless, but it seemed so to most. The real Gacy was a monster through and through. His house – particularly the crawlspace – was the site of utter horrendousness. Disgusting, gruesome, and devilish don’t give the man the proper respect he deserves for being such a bad man. The nine featured songs on this particular playlist provide a most gruesome soundtrack to Mr. Gacy.
Many of the best songs come in the hands of dedicated singer/songwriters. Sufjan Stevens is a master at his craft, hence why he delivers the perfect song about John Wayne Gacy. On the first verse of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” he paints the deceptive, eerie picture, while he summarizes his despicable, repulsiveness on the chorus.
“Twenty-seven people / Even more, they were boys / With their cars, summer jobs / Oh my God / Are you one of them?”
Stevens ‘goes for the kill’ on the second verse, describing the killer being “on his best behavior” when he dressed as a clown, but ultimately “He’d kill ten thousand people / With a sleight [slight] of his hand.” Perhaps the second chorus is the most disturbing:
“And in my best behavior / I am really just like him / Look beneath the floor boards / For the secrets I have hid.”
Sinister Slaughter/Behind the Walls of Sleep, 2000
Macabre, a death metal band formed in the 1980s, tackles the infamous John Wayne Gacy. Macabre graced a previous list about a different serial killer, one Jeffrey Dahmer (“Apartment 213” and “Freeze Dried Man”). “Gacy’s Lot” appears on Sinister Slaughter, initially in 1993, but reissued in 2000 as Sinister Slaughter/Behind the Walls of Sleep.
Without the lyrics in front of you, it’s near impossible to decipher what Macabre are singing. A close examination of the lyrics finds the band speaking of his atrocities.
“The police unveiled a gruesome find; the product of John Gacy’s crimes / They found a lot of dead boys in the plots left to rot on Gacy’s lot / So they dug up the lot and tore down the house to look for the / Boys that were buried about / Twenty-eight boys were found on the lot filling his living / conditions with rot…”
Naturally, the music is dark, characterized by its jagged, angular guitars. Vocally, finesse isn’t part of the script, but Macabre paints the horrific picture of Gacy successfully.
Divine Providence, 2011
Providence, Rhode Island indie rockers Deer Tick get in on the Gacy action with “Clownin’ Around.” “Clownin’ Around” appears on their 2011 album, Divine Providence. The first verse of the song perfectly captures the secret life of the clown, in all its perverseness.
“Though I’ve walked down a crooked path / That don’t mean it wasn’t cursed / My feeble heart was filled with wrath / My poison mind with thoughts perverse / And the devil is living in my basement / I’m trying hard to hid him from my wife / And I know someday I’m gonna have to face him / But for now I keep my secrets with the night.”
Amazingly, “Clownin’ Around” is in a major key. The overall sound can be described as pleasant, while the lyrics are eerie. Even so, drummer Dennis Ryan sings with an exuberance, which only amplifies the magnitude of Gacy’s sins. Naturally, there’s talk of pretty boys, the infamous crawl space, and the descent of the murderer into hell. One of the best touches is the clown music that appears at the end of the record. Fitting.
“Can I pick you up from school? / Can I take a walk with you / Pogo the clown is the man / With the funny red nose / Let me touch your virgin flesh / Why do I get soaking wet / Don’t run away little boy / Because your mammy won’t know.”
Sheesh! Hubert Kah seems to nail the actions of John Wayne Gacy perfectly on “Pogo the Clown.” “Pogo the Clown” serves as the opener on the German synth-pop band’s 1986 album, Tensongs. The aforementioned lyrics only touch the surface – it gets worse.
“Come here my child / Feel the last of my disease / Just one more game / Take the red or pink balloon / so erotic in your mouth / Provocative and sensuous / Tell me why you lie so still / I won’t hurt you I won’t kill / Pogo the clown is the man / Who will take off your clothes / Feel the whip on naked skin / Driving him insane again.”
Ugh! Disgusting! Musically, “Pogo the Clown” is up tempo, with a hella danceable beat – yeah, it’s disturbing. Furthermore, the record is set in a minor key (for a majority of the time), and, expectedly, it’s quite enigmatic.
Master of Brutality, 2001
Japanese metal band Misery are no stranger to providing the soundtrack to serial killers. Also appearing on our Jeffrey Dahmer playlist (“Room 213 (Jeffrey Dahmer)”), their 16-track effort, Early Works Compilation, is filled with representative killers including Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Berkowitz. “Master of Brutality (John Wayne Gacy)” appears on their 2001 album, Master of Brutality. In addition to the title track referencing Gacy, other songs turn to Ed Kemper, Peter Sutcliffe, and Herbert Mullin.
The song opens with a news reports about the indictments made against Gacy. Meanwhile, malicious guitars begin to construct the brutality prescribed by “Master of Brutality.” Not only musically does Church of Misery capture the evil, but also lyrically. No, they don’t offer an incredible amount of lyrical depth, but they capture the cold-hearted devilishness without question. Among key lyrics are, “And I bury you under my feet / Blood turning to black / Beneath my skin.” Later, the misery gets even more miserable:
“You can smell of blood red / You can’t hear their cry / You can see the bodies / Harmless victim.”
Soul of a New Machine, 1992
“Suffer Age” commences with the element of mysteriousness – what’s new? Ultimately, Fear Factory set up quite an unsettled vibe to say the least. A sense of stability eventually develops, but it’s temporary, never feeling surefire. It’s fitting given the horrific actions of Gacy. The band characterizes J.W.G. perfectly:
“Unbelievable atrocity / Hateful monstrosity…”
Yep, that’s about the size of it. Prior to that description of the sinister clown, the death metal band “sings”:
“Compressed youthful voices / Suffer age / Below John’s floors / Spoilage / Lingering death / Gagging your fears / Dead in horror / Grizzly facial stare.”
Fear Factory certainly lives up to its name. That’s some hella scary stuff indeed.
Bathory lay claim to the most graphic song on this list. “33 Something” is chaotic from the jump – madness exemplified. The band gets right into it – perhaps too much into it.
“Forcing his way into your ass / John Wayne Gacy is near / Flesh will rip and blood will flow / This death comes in your rear.”
Yeah…graphic. It gets worse:
“One of 33 Something / All who were raped and bled / The last thing you will ever hear / Before you’re f*cking dead is… / Drink my cum, take my rum / Blooded hole, twisted soul / Eat my shit, suck my dick / Writhe in pain and die insane.”
Raw to the nth degree. Equally chilling, though less explicit is how Bathory sums up the experience with the serial killer.
“Once you’ve played with Mr. Gacy / There’s no way out, no release / In the attic is hell, then in the / Basement you’ll find peace.”
Only Tools and Corpses, 2003
British death metal band Gorerotted were something else. To say the least, the song titles from their 2003 album, Only Tools and Corpses, are hellish. Some examples include “Zombie Graveyard Rap Bonanza,” “Fuck Your Arse with Broken Glass” (ouch!), and “Can’t Fit Her Limbs in the Fridge.” These song titles make “To Catch a Killer,” our highlighted record, sound tame. It’s not.
First of all, “To Catch a Killer” doesn’t just focus on John Wayne Gacy. There are sections dedicated to Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Fred West, and John George Haigh. For our purposes, however, we’ll focus on Gacy, who appears first on this crazy song. The lyrics are as follows:
“My name is John and I dress as a clown / Thirty-one bodies I’ve buried underground / A construction worker I like building flats and pulling rabbits out of hats / But under my make-up I’m a mischievous man / Killing as many boys as I can.”
Gorerotted may be insane themselves, but they paint an accurate picture of J.W.G. Employing a dual-lead vocalist line up – Ben McCrow and Jason Merle. Sigh, it’s double the darkness.
Gacy’s Place: The Undiscovered Corpses, 2004
“Breaking down the walls / At Gacy’s Place / Trying to touch my balls / At Gacy’s Place / Trying to make me scared / At Gacy’s Place / Trying to make me aware / At Gacy’s Place.”
Fittingly, The Mentally Ill sing us out with “Gacy’s Place,” recorded in 1979. The punk rock band makes one thing clear on this frenetically-paced, barely decipherable record: “They’re f*cking your kids.” Yeah, the band repeats the phrase a lot. F*cked by Noise offers an excellent write-up about the significance of this particular punk record.