Songwriting Masterclass: Fred Durst
As we all know, Fred Durst is a genius who channels the rage of the lower class into simplistic and accessible compositions which are able to give solace to those oppressed by that wretched machine known as capitalism while sacrificing no elements of party anthems that anyone may enjoy.
“Break Stuff” is a prime example of Durst’s “personal as political” approach to song-crafting through its use of simple, easily understandable statements of rage which contain an esoteric message for the astute listener on the struggles and triumphs of that aimless rage the proletariat channels in their struggle for the fruit of their labor. Durst has divided his song into a three-act structure, much in the same way films are, which gives the song it’s progressive and energetic aesthetic that barrels through each verse and chorus and bridge like a train fueled by cocaine. Within these three acts, one could pick a line from each and dissect it to find the ethos of Limp Bizkit and their contribution to the social and political landscape of rock music today.
The first act of the song launches with no delay, landing us in medias res with a few guitar chords which use tritones to achieve a sound of dissonance that matches the dissonance between a complex message and a simplistic delivery. The song starts like so:
“It’s just one of those days / When you don’t wanna wake up / Everything is f*cked / Everybody sucks”
Here, Fred expresses the abject loneliness many creatives feel in being unable to fully express their vision or meaningfully collaborate. One could find a similar sentiment from Brian Wilson n The Beach Boys’ song “I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.” This loneliness, present throughout much of Durst’s canon, can also be read as a commentary on how an isolated and divided proletariat cannot hope to triumph.
The second act begins with a lyrics tour de force as Durst joins his own rage at a society that uses distinctions between high art and “trash” art to subjugate and oppress the lower class with the aimless rage of that oppressed class, lashing out at the jailers with no regard for consequence. Referencing the celebrity rumor-mill culture which satiates the masses while also being used as a beating cane to demean them, Durst states,
“It’s all about the he says/she says bullsh*t.”
The third act culminates in the lyrical pièce de résistance of the second bridge, the climax before the final chorus plays and credits roll. Durst starts in his signature simplistic style:
“Give me something to break / Give me something to break / Just give me something to break.”
The repetition gives Durst’s words an urgency and desperation hard to replicate. The use of the rule of three, broken by the slight change in the third line outlines that same dissonance present in Durst’s soul at the thought of joining the musical elite he once sought to dismantle. But it doesn’t end there. Durst threatens that same establishment that seeks to consume him:
“I hope you know I pack a chainsaw. (what?)”
He curtails his statement of absurd rage and anger with the disbelief that a listener or the target of that rage may face when confronted by one who is packing a chainsaw, effectively predicting the reaction to create a deep set of unease which builds as he repeats this technique twice more.
In conclusion, Fred Durst’s lyrical prowess cannot be overstated, nor can the effect Limp Bizkit had with their intricacies hidden within simplicities. As Fred Durst himself ends the bridge:
“So come and get it.”