Coma White

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"Coma White"
"Coma White" cover
Promotional single by Marilyn Manson from the album Mechanical Animals
Released September 20, 1999
Format CD
Genre Hard rock[1]
Length 5:38 (Album version)
4:23 (Music video edit)
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Marilyn Manson, Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Zim Zum
Producer(s) Michael Beinhorn, Marilyn Manson
Music sample

"Coma White" is a song by the band Marilyn Manson. It is the last track from the album Mechanical Animals. Despite only being released as a promo single, a video was shot in the wake of the Columbine tragedy controversy surrounding the band, and it also provided a preview of the Holy Wood project. The video generated significant controversy and became a highly requested clip on MTV. It is considered a fan favorite, and one of Manson's most critically acclaimed songs off one of the band's most critically acclaimed albums.

Track listing[edit]

  • EU promotional CD single
  1. "Coma White" - 5:41
  2. "Coma White" (acoustic version) [Appears on the Bonus Disc of The Last Tour on Earth sold for a limited time in the UK] – 5:33
  • US promotional CD single
  1. "Coma White" (radio edit) - 4:21


The song is considerably gentler than much of the album it concludes, Mechanical Animals. It starts with an acoustic guitar-sounding riff played mostly on the B string; after the riff is concluded once, a simplistic drum pattern and very minimalist bass line supports it, and the lyrics begin after the riff is played a second time. The last repeat of the verse section includes a few distorted guitar overlays that build to the chorus, a straight-up set of power chords that follows the previous bass line (which now plays something completely different). There is an accompanying keyboard effect playing during this section. After this a bridge plays consisting of one guitar playing an extrapolation from the chorus, with a second overlaid guitar playing the bass notes of each chords at a very high pitch. The verse then repeats, although there is now considerably more keyboard effects that do not feel "musical" so much as ambient sound. The chorus then plays twice, followed by the bridge. It is played once with just the rhythm guitar on the very left of the soundscape, a second time adding the high guitar on the far right, and a third with the full band and lyrics repeated from the verses. The rhythm section then plays the first half of the chorus before the guitar kicks in to finish it, then the chorus plays three more times. The last time it is played, another layered guitar bit based on the G string is added; this progression continues after the rest of the chorus ends, looping itself until it, and the album, fades from perception.

Referring to "Coma White" and "Great Big White World" Manson told the Los Angeles Times, "The color white comes up a lot. It kind of represents to me the numbness I had. That numbness is manifested in all the people who want to suck the life out of you when you become a rock star."[2] One analysis held that the song "describes a girl that Manson loved and compares the girl to a drug, so the singer isn't sure what he's on or whom he's in love with."[3]

While originally intended by Marilyn to be the fourth and final single from the Mechanical Animals album, its release in such a format — including radio airplay — was pulled following the untimely JFK Jr. controversy which involved the video.[citation needed] The manufacturing of the CD-format of this single was underway when the release was scrapped.[citation needed] Until recently, it was believed that all copies of the CD had been recalled and destroyed. However, it has been confirmed by Discogs that there is at least one copy of the CD left, and is currently in the possession of a user in Poland.[citation needed] The bonus disc featuring two renditions of "Coma White" and two B-sides of the Mechanical Animals album that comes with the limited edition of the 1999 live album The Last Tour on Earth is the product of this scrapped single.[citation needed] The song is featured as downloadable content for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock as part of the "February Mega Pack". The track is also available on the Japanese version of Manson's compilation album Lest We Forget.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Samuel Bayer and premiered on MTV on September 13, 1999.[4][5] The video generated controversy as it featured a reenactment of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy (though shot in dim lighting, unlike the actual shooting's occurrence in broad daylight). Manson and his then-fiancée Rose McGowan play JFK and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, respectively. Its debut release was through the band's official website, and was delayed twice until mid-September due to the Columbine Massacre and the death of JFK Jr.

The video is oddly "clean" given the gore of the actual events. The director, Samuel Bayer, says there was no blood used during the filming. "We didn't feel like it was appropriate to actually act out the assassination."[6] One Canadian reviewer remarked that the video, which was expected to shock, was "More Fellini-esque death march than blasphemous rewrite of history, [and] it caused little commotion."[7]

The video is also notable for the appearance of the late, 7 foot 6 actor Matthew McGrory.


The release of the video was hampered by two coinciding events: the Columbine High School massacre, and the coincidental John F. Kennedy Jr. plane crash.

In a statement released by his publicist, Manson said the video used the Kennedy assassination "as a metaphor for America's obsession and worship of violence. My statement was always intended to make people think of how they view and sometimes participate in these events." Further, the video "is in no way a mockery. In fact, it is a tribute to men like Jesus Christ and JFK who have died at the hands of mankind's unquenchable thirst for violence."

He said that when he filmed the video, "little did I know that the tragedy at Columbine and the accidental death of JFK Jr. would follow. But it was telling to see the [news] media shamelessly gorge itself on these events, which ultimately made my observations in the video even truer than I had originally imagined."

MTV Total Request Live host Carson Daly read the statement before MTV debuted the video; subsequently, the station would offer Manson's insights on its Web site and several more times on the air. "Coma White" would become one of the station's most requested clips.[8] Kennedy family representatives declined to comment on the video.[9]

While the story shown is unrelated to the song’s lyrics, the video's contents foreshadowed some of the themes on the band’s next album, Holy Wood.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Shafer, Joseph (April 8, 2015). "The 10 Best Marilyn Manson Songs". Stereogum. Retrieved June 26, 2015. A host of devils occupy various similar details in what is otherwise a straightforward hard-rock ballad. 
  2. ^ Darron Hargreaves. "The fuss over Marilyn Manson." Daily Yomiuri. October 15, 1998. pp. 7.
  3. ^ Lon Medd. "Music Review: Marilyn Manson." Michigan State U. Wire. September 30, 1998.
  4. ^ "Marilyn Manson Announces First Leg Of World Tour". VH1. 2000-09-22. Retrieved 2011-04-03. 
  5. ^ "Marilyn Manson Explains JFK Imagery In Video". VH1. 1999-09-14. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  6. ^ McLean, S. "JFK Shoot a Bloodless Act." Courier Mail. March 2, 1999. pp. 12.
  7. ^ T'cha Dunlevy. "Shock video." The Gazette. 20 November 1999. D1
  8. ^ Alona Wartofsky. "Marilyn Manson as JFK: Metaphor or Mockery?" Washington Post. September 18, 1999. Y2
  9. ^ "ARTS & TV in Brief; Manson's new video low: Re-creating JFK's death." Boston Herald. September 23, 1999. pp. 060.