Next to Antichrist Superstar, Holy Wood is the album most examined for its references and meanings. In Holy Wood, Manson introduces his Mercury persona and is to sign off messages with 'The Third and Final Beast' under his name.
He has said he considers Holy Wood to be the first part of a trilogy completed in reverse, and refers to this creative work as the triptych. The triptych defines the band's musical and performance careers from 1996 up to 2001, signifying its importance to band and fans alike.
Holy Wood era themes and influencesSo much to look at - where to begin? Evolution, power, revolution, martrydom, alchemy, religion, freemasonry, celebrity, JFK, the media, the tarot, despondancy, resentment, rage and revenge.
The album was strongly influenced by the aftermath of Columbine in 1999 - its overall tone dictated by the moods created then - but, as Manson explains, that is only one aspect:
Whilst Antichrist Superstar depicted a nihilistic 'worm' character and his eventual role in Armageddon, and the glam-influenced Mechanical Animals had the rockstar Omega who became distanced and corrupted by celebrity, Holy Wood has the character Mercury and looks at aspirations and the beginnings of rage.
Well I like to think so.
The album's protagonist is 'Adam Kadmon', a name borrowed from Kabbalah, a form of ancient Jewish mysticism. Kadmon is a blueprint, held in heaven, for the first human.
Manson said of the record:
Holy Wood's lyrics have references to John F. Kennedy, Jesus Christ and John Lennon. Manson views these figures as revolutionaries who fell victim to mankind's obsession with, and focus on, violence.
But what is he saying, that we shouldn't at least try? Or is he giving a warning to modify your approach and tactics? Whoever is already in charge will not just hand everything over to someone else - or even share - just because that person has become famous and popular. You have to also become sympathetic to 'the system' (existing power structures) in order to bring any lasting change.
He says "...the record deals so much with the idea of revolution ... it discusses the failures of revolution and how you can't change the world - you have to change within yourself ..."
But I think you can do both sometimes, just not on your own.
If the message is that revolution itself fails as a method, then I agree. Trying to destroy what already exists can be counterproductive - reform is a more realistic option.
Kennedy, Christ and Lennon were certainly seen as too radical by the establishment of their day. They were populist; had bold ideas that threatened to transfer control and decision-making away from entrenched and secretive power bases. And so they made enemies, powerful ones.
The album track 'Lamb of God' was inspired by Jesus, Kennedy and Lennon, particularly the latter. MM: "Lamb Of God is my homage to John Lennon, which people will understand when they hear the lyrics."
'It's not just death that turns you into an icon,' said Manson, 'It's how many people are watching when you die ... Christ, Lennon, and Kennedy were all killed in such dramatic ways. I think that's half of why people have sainted them ... because they love violence, they love the drama of it all.'
'I'm really wrapped up in the Kennedy mythology. I think that's the one that has me the most.'
As his favourite conspiracy theory, it influenced this album and Mechanical Animals too.
The true circumstances around any of their deaths - Kennedy, Christ, Lennon - may never be known to us. I'd dearly love to learn the truth about Lennon's demise - was there more than one deranged person involved? But some truths may be too dangerous to know. Out of the three of them, he is the person who means the most to me.
Reading those words back, I realize they signify, that for me personally, John Lennon is 'bigger then Jesus'. It's a funny old world after all.
Holy Wood era timeline
15 December 1999 - the official marilynmanson.com website gets a new look and the Mercury symbol comes into use. At this stage, the new album title is given as: In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death.
Songs 'The Love Song', 'Disposable Teens' and 'Mon Enfant' (alias Mommy Dear) are previewed online.
14 February 2000 - Marilyn's Valentine's Day gift online is a cover of Charles Manson's song 'Sick City'.
9 May 2000 - Marilyn joins Trent Reznor (NIN) onstage at Madison Square Garden, NYC. They perform 'Starfuckers' and 'The Beautiful People'.
29 August 2000 - Marilyn collects Kerrang's Hall of Fame Award in London, UK. Britt Ekland is helped to the stage to present the prize. She had slipped on a piece of watermelon flung during a food fight.
Manson starts his own record label, Post Human Records, distributed by Priority Records. The band Godhead is his first signing.
9 November 2000 - in Florida, the band begin their Guns, God and Government world tour.
Marilyn Manson onstage
Monday 13 November 2000 - fans queue at Tower Records, 692 Broadway in New York, to be amongst the first to buy the Holy Wood album at the stroke of midnight.
Tuesday 14 November 2000 - Holy Wood album released in USA, and prior to this date in some other countries. It's also election time in America.
Release party: In New York, Marilyn Manson, Twiggy Ramirez and John5 perform a special acoustic set for a select audience. Fans get the chance to be there by being in the first 100 to buy the new album, or by winning invites from K-ROCK radio or from the website, marilynmanson.com.
Wednesday 15 November 2000 - in the afternoon, the band appear on MTV's Total Request Live before travelling to perform their concert in Philadelphia.
Saturday 25 November 2000 - At the show at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom, Ginger fractures his collarbone as he falls from his drum riser during the concert finale. Moby is outraged by Manson's antics. Clue: Marilyn was in the process of trashing the stage set when it happened. Ginger ends up at St. Vincent's Hospital that night, but is fit to play the next show in Detroit.
31 December 2000 - Marilyn Manson perform at MTV's New Year's Eve Bash 2001. Times Square studio I'm guessing.
Wednesday 23 January 2001 - the group do an in-store signing at the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street, London. They played London's Docklands Arena the night before.
30 January 2001 - Manson joins Eminem onstage in Germany during Eminem's song 'The Way I Am'.
14 February 2001 - Marilyn's Valentine's Day gift online is chapter 10 of his Holy Wood novel.
11 May 2001 - Manson delivers the Artist Keynote Address at NewMusicWest's Artists and Repertoire Session, at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Canada.I don't think he was actually there though, it was a video link.
26 August 2001 - Before his Reading festival performance, Manson talks to Steve Lamacq on BBC's Radio 1, mentioning the live DVD due to be filmed in Dublin on 5th September.
Tuesday 28 August 2001 - Kerrang Award for Best Album goes to 'Holy Wood'. Marilyn collects the prize from Rob Halford (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Two).
The whole band had a day off in London to attend the awards ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel and then a party at the Rock club afterwards. And Marilyn's soulmate Dita was there too.
31 August 2001 - MCD, promoters to MM's planned 5th September show, announce that the Dublin Point Theatre concert has been cancelled and the recording of the live DVD postponed. This is due to 'the film production company withdrawing from the project leaving the artist with no other option but to cancel the event'.
8 October 2001 - a specially arranged show at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, is filmed for a forthcoming 'Guns, God and Government' world tour DVD.
Little did we know then that this was to be Twiggy's last onstage appearance with Marilyn Manson.