Have you ever seen lion cubs wrestle? Humans are no different, especially boys. We go through a period where we behave like badasses even though the overwhelming majority of us aren’t. We carry around weapons and puff out our chests and talk about all of the ass we’re going to whup. Most of us outgrow this — the rest stretch Tapout tee-shirts over their guts and puff out their supple man bosoms.
I got my lion cub training from books, movies, and music. Here are some cuts about fighting from my personal playlist:
“Rumble,” Link Wray: As far as I know this is the only instrumental ever banned from radio play because it was too dangerous. It’s still one of the coolest songs that you’ll ever hear.
“Rumble In Brighton,” The Stray Cats: Brian Setzer lovingly echoes Link Wray in this totally boss rockabilly rave.
“Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting),” The Who: I don’t know that The Who brought anything particularly new to this cover of Elton John’s original, but Roger Daltrey lends a tough guy credibility that Reg couldn’t.
“Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J: Full disclosure — this cut and “Jack the Ripper” off of the Less Than Zero soundtrack are as deep as I go in the LL Cool J discography. Cool song, though.
“I’ll Hit You Back,” Jane’s Addiction: From the new album, The Great Escape Artist. For years “I’ll Hit You Back Music” has been the name of Perry Farrell’s music publishing company. I’m glad to see him extend the idea into a song. The album is a must-have — get to it!
“Get In the Ring,” Guns N’ Roses: I’m in the camp that believes Use Your Illusion would have been better as a single album. “Get In the Ring” is one of the songs that wouldn’t have made the final cut. A bitter rant by Axl, but at least it’s a bit funny in a “Charlie Sheen Goes Batshit” kind of way.
“The Fight Song,” Marilyn Manson: Where’s my Tapout shirt? I need to kick some booty after listening to this.
“Street Fighting Man,” Rage Against the Machine: You’re right — there’s no improving on The Rolling Stones original, but RATM bring some testosterone to the party. Besides, this is “Deep Cuts,” after all. I have to at least pretend that I’m trying to bring the nuggets.
“Beat It With Your Fist,” Frank Zappa. Uncle Frank was talking about fighting, right? Right?
“Black Superman,” Derrick Morgan: There’s only one way to wrap up a list of songs about fighting — pay tribute to The Greatest. There are lots of versions of this track floating around, but Derrick Morgan’s has always been my favorite. If you were a kid during the Seventies you remember just what a black Superman Ali truly seemed to be, and you might even remember this song.