Legendary rant: The message of Bill Hicks carries on
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK editor
“I’m here to sing you some songs for my mamma…”
And so it begins. At roughly an hour and 15 minutes, Bill Hicks’ definitive
statement, Rant in E-Minor, inundates the listener with the far-left screams of a
man utterly fed up with the society in which he finds himself trapped. And the
picture he paints ain’t pretty.
The images are as graphic as any nightly newscast. Pro-life warriors murdering
doctors. Cops storming trailer parks. Jesse Helms and Jay Leno killing
themselves. Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Dan Quayle urinating into Rush
Limbaugh’s mouth. Federal officers blowing fire into a Waco compound. It’s likely
more explicit than any NC-17 movie released in the past decade.
But at no time is it obscene. Sure, it’s not appetizing, but it’s funny as anything,
and it’s all geared towards proving his ultimate point: that we are all one and we
have to live with each other. That said, there are plenty of folks that he’s forced to
live with whom he can’t stand, and at no time does he feel like he should have to
stand by idly.
For instance, take everyone’s favorite topic: abortion. Hicks had no trouble laying
in to one of his favorite groups of people.
“Boy, I've never seen an issue so divisive. It's like a civil war, isn't it? Even
amongst my friends, who are all very intelligent; they're totally divided on abortion.
It's unbelievable. Some of my friends, for instance, think these pro-life people are
annoying idiots. Other of my friends think these pro-life people, are evil fucks. How
are we going to come to a consensus? You ought to hear the arguments around
my house: "They're annoying! They're idiots! They're evil! They're fucks!!" Brothers,
sisters, come together. Can't we once just join hands and think of them as evil-
And just in case his stance on the issue isn’t totally clear after that bit, Hicks takes
a moment to fill in any confused audience members:
“And by the way, a 3-month-old fetus in your belly is not a fucking human being,
OK? It’s a bunch of congregated cells. You’re not a human being until you’re in my
Rant in E-Minor was also his most representative record, as it fully displayed what
happened when he felt his audience betrayed him. As was common, some of the
folks who arrived at the club expecting a straight-up night of comedy didn’t vibe
with what Hicks was selling. When he picked up on that, he lost it.
“… You fucking redneck hillbilly piece of shit. Fuck America if that’s America and
fuck you too.” Then, just as quickly, he snapped back into the role of a self-
effacing comedian. “Hi! Hello, and welcome everyone. Welcome to my show of
hate. … ’Bill you do a joke that’s kind of funny and then you tell us you hate us!’
‘Where’s Bill going?’ ‘He’s going to comedy death!’”
His vitriol wasn’t saved exclusively for matters political and religious, either.
Society’s worship of money, as evidenced by Jay Leno’s commercials for Doritos,
also earned his ire.
“You don’t have enough fucking money? You’re that much of a fucking whore you
have to sell snacks to fucking bovine America?”
13 years ago on Feb. 26, Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer. 10 years ago, Rant
in E-Minor was finally unleashed onto the public. And, sure enough, the
president’s name is still Bush, the country is still at war, and there are still
thousands of injustices raging in the nation. Hicks’ words have as much power
today as they did more than a decade ago.
“Don't tell me this is the military that protects our freedom. Hey, ladies and
gentlemen, there ain't no one out there who's a fucking threat to us. They don't
exist. Oh, I'm talking now only of countries we don't arm first. All right, if you want to
split hairs, you’ve got a point.”
Hicks is gone, but his words are left to battle the evils of the world. Through all the
cynicism and anger, the seeds of optimism always remained. As wired and irate
Hicks sounded, he always believed in the love of life and nature. His anger
stemmed from what he saw as the wasted potential of the human race.
It’s in death that Bill Hicks reached the same level of his rock heroes – namely
Jimi Hendrix. And Rant in E-Minor serves as the same tribute to talent as First
Rays of the New Rising Sun did for the incendiary guitarist. The final masterpiece
was left to be assembled by those remaining, with only a loose guideline and the
spirit of his work left to piece it together.
He died without seeing the beauty of the world in full bloom. But, right up until his
final weeks, he fought to spread his message. He was more than a comedian; he
was a social satirist and a philosopher, and he truly believed the planet could be a
“It's time for us to create a new philosophy, and perhaps even a new religion, you
see. And that's okay, because that's our right. Because we are free children of God
with minds who can imagine anything, and that's kind of our role.”