AC/DC, “Problem Child”
While there is almost nothing in the AC/DC songbook that wouldn’t qualify for our list of man music, this one from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976) is particularly apt. “Problem Child” is a hymn to the onstage shtick of guitarist Angus Young, who liked (still likes, actually) to strut and gibber in a schoolboy’s uniform, even as he displayed, with his guitar work, the most developed sense of negative space in all of hard rock. Stamped with the hallmarks of classic AC/DC — the disco precision of the rhythm section, the witchy squawk of the great Bon Scott (RIP) — this is for the nasty little schoolboy in all of us. “I’m a problem child . . . my mother hates me!”
Cro-Mags, “Crush the Demoniac”
These Hare Krishna hoodlums from NYC had a terrible time trying to be spiritually attentive while simultaneously kicking everybody in the face. At their best, they rewrote the quest of the soul as high-speed hardcore opera, Quadrophenia for transcendental pit goons, with riffs like the harrowing of hell. No man can feel complete without that element of God-endowed righteousness, and “Crush the Demoniac,” from their underrated 1989 masterpiece Best Wishes, really hits the spot. To be sung while shaving: “No we won’t, no we won’t, no we won’t ever serve their demands/’Cause we know, ’cause we know, ’cause we know that the Lord has his plans!” Indeed, He does, and they involve violent, metaphysically tumescent manliness.
Nashville Pussy, “Go Motherfucker Go”
From 1998’s Let Them Eat Pussy, this derivative chunk of post-Motorhead crash ’n’ burn might not have made the list were it not for the splendor of its title. Show me the man who has not needed to hear, at the critical moment of his life, these three very words screamed violently in his ear, and I’ll show you a John Mayer fan. The Pussy, too, to give them credit, always bashed the hell out of this meager material — their headlong commitment, manifested also in a tawdry sense of theater (warthog sideburns, fire-eating, six-foot female bassist with runaway nipple), was a lesson to us all.
Black Flag, “Depression”
A man has his moods, we all know that — places where he must be left by himself, with only a whiskey bottle and some Seinfeld reruns, to brood over the chasms in his nature. And for the darker moments in maleness, nothing is more applicable than the black-hole narcissism of 1981’s Damaged, a classic of LA punk rock, of which “Depression” is the prime cut. The sound is a sulphurous flail of guitar, cymbal, and malfunctioning ego, and the pace is that of a dog chasing its own tail. “I ain’t got/No friends to call my own/I just sit here . . . all alone!/There’s no girls that wanna touch me/I don’t need, I don’t need . . . YOUR FUCKIN’ SYMPATHY!” Take that, concerned bystanders!