1. “We Are the Dead,” David Bowie, 1974
I remember hearing this song in the Nineties, when I first moved to L.A. It wouldn’t have had the same impact on me if I’d heard it when I was a kid in Ohio — it felt like it was about the culture of Hollywood, the disgusting cannibalism. It was a great inspiration to me on Antichrist Superstar.
2. “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” David Bowie, 1982
A great song lyrically — very biting, very strong, very powerful. I never really liked this song on Let’s Dance, but I love the version on the soundtrack to the film Cat People.
3. “Straight Outta Compton,” N.W.A, 1988
I was in a completely different phase of music when I first heard this. I was living in Florida at the time, and I was trying to go against my environment, which was lots of 2 Live Crew and N.W.A — so I was probably listening to Jane’s Addiction, the Cure and Joy Division. But eventually I listened and I thought, “You know what? N.W.A is as punk-rock as anyone.”
4. “Cry Me a River,” Justin Timberlake, 2002
People underestimate how badass Justin Timberlake can be. Coming from a boy band, he probably wanted to break that mold and show people his darker side, and that’s “Cry Me a River.” In addition, I was told by my great friend Johnny Depp that he’d “buy me a liver” if I ever needed him to, so there’s that.
5. “Cocaine Blues,” Johnny Cash, 1968
It’s hard to pick just one favorite Johnny Cash song, but this is the one I listen to before I go onstage. I listen to the version that he played at Folsom Prison — the one where you can actually hear his voice crack. You can hear that grit in his throat. It makes it real.
6. “Hey Joe,” Jimi Hendrix, 1967
This song is similar to “Cocaine Blues” in that they’re both about killing a woman. It’s sort of like how we call tank-top shirts wife-beaters. It’s strange that that’s part of American culture.
7. “The End,” the Doors, 1967
I played some shows with the surviving members of the Doors a couple of years ago. I did “Five to One,” I did “People Are Strange” — but I would never do “The End.” No one touches that song. That’s sacred. Even though it came out earlier, “The End” really feels like it defines 1969, the year I was born: Altamont, Woodstock, the end of the Summer of Love and all that shit.
8. “I’m Eighteen,” Alice Cooper, 1971
One of the first songs that I heard by Alice Cooper when I was growing up. I listened to it because my mother, who loved Neil Diamond and the Bee Gees, also loved Alice Cooper. At the time, it didn’t make me think, “I’m going to be a singer.” But I could identify with it. It felt true, and it will always be true. Much later, I toured with Alice and I got to sing it with him, which was a childhood dream come true.
9. “Today,” Smashing Pumpkins, 1993
Billy Corgan and I became friends about 15 years ago, when I was working on Mechanical Animals and he was working on what would become Adore. Even before that, I always loved this song. People might think of it as a happy pop song, but it’s actually very dark. When he says, “Today is the greatest day,” it’s an ironic statement, and people don’t catch that.