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Future of Music: Marilyn Manson

November 15, 2007 8:27 PM ET

What do you see as the most important issue facing the United States, or maybe even the world, today?
I think it's the possibility of devaluing things by empowering people to self-broadcast or bootleg or even import things from China. It started with the entertainment industry, but it's ended up translating into everything else. Things have become devalued to the point where people don't realize the repercussions, that they're devaluing themselves. It could end up bringing about chaos, a lawless situation.

Do you see anyone addressing this issue in a meaningful way?
I don't really know how you would deal with it. I think it's important to continually demonstrate the importance of being an artist. It becomes a moral value. There's an architect who built the building. There's someone who wrote the song you're listening to. Somebody made the movie and the book that you see or read. It goes back to my most important idea, that artists should be the ones to rule society because they shape society. But artists will always be suppressed and, for the most part, tortured and tormented in financial, emotional and sometimes physical ways. We're idealistic people who want to spend our time putting ideas into the world, which ends up fucking us over. I hate to play the martyr, but someone has to [laughs].

Are you optimistic about the future?
Ultimately, because I'm an artist, I can't ever consider myself a nihilist, so I suppose I'm optimistic. I decided to make music again at a time when I couldn't have had more obstacles. If what you do is being threatened as a profession, that could be scary. But that's the same reason why I walked out on stage many times after receiving death threats. I couldn't live without doing what I wanted to do. So at the same time I have to be willing to die for it.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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