Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot” Lyrics Meaning
“Hey man, nice shot” can be deemed an ambiguous term, to some degree. In fact when most of us hear an expression like that, the first thing to come to mind would probably be a sport like basketball, soccer or snooker whereas ‘shooting’ is practiced.
That would logically be part of the reason why, according to Richard Patrick, some people deemed this song controversial upon discovering that it’s actually about suicide. Or let’s more realistically say that the title, all things considered, is obviously an act of sarcasm.
Furthermore, many were under the impression, due to the fact that this track came out just a few months after Kurt Cobain’s own shocking suicide, that Filter was more or less trying to capitalize on that tragedy.
What has been revealed, even though to this day many people still believe that Cobain is the subject, is that “Hey Man Nice Shot” was actually inspired by a much-lesser known individual in R. Budd Dwyer (1939-1987).
R. Budd Dwyer
Dwyer was a Pennsylvania politician who got caught up in a corruption scandal and accordingly was on the verge of receiving a hot plate of justice. But prior to being incarcerated, he decided to dumb out in full. He not only committed suicide but he did so on live television, i.e. at a press conference that he personally called.
So at that time, footage of Dwyer blowing his brains out was circulating on TV, and one of the people to view this was a young Richard Patrick. Needless to say, Patrick was of course profoundly affected by it.
And you will note that Dwyer’s suicide was in 1987, almost a decade before this track dropped. So, once again according to Patrick, he actually wrote this song in 1991, i.e. long before Cobain’s death.
Lyrics of “Hey Man Nice Shot”
With the above out of the way, there are three aspects of this piece that should be further noted. First is that there are no proper nouns used in the song anyway, as in who the addressee is never being specified.
Second it is that none of the lyrics point directly to suicide. In fact in this day and age, it could be easily interpreted that the addressee is rather someone like a murderer, i.e. a person who took another life and not his own, since the vocalist is communicating with him in a way that would imply he’s still alive.
This brings us to the third aspect, which is that, at least based on some lyrics (i.e. the first verse and outro), it is obvious that the addressee is someone whom Richard looks up to.
So with that in mind, it’s understandable why some people may be convinced that the subject is Kurt Cobain, regardless of what Patrick says, unless maybe he, as a rock musician, has some type of unusual desire to associate himself with corrupt politicians.
In any event, we do know that the writer himself has verified that this piece is about suicide and furthermore that of R. Budd Dwyer. But even with that understanding in tow, some sections, such as the second verse, remain challenging to decipher. However, said passage also does imply that this song is not about Cobain but rather someone who committed suicide in front of others, who of course were significantly affected as a result.
But the lyrics are so metaphorical that how exactly they were affected isn’t specified, outside of witnesses being imbued with “a new kind of fear”.
We’ll conclude by saying that as far as suicide songs may go, “Hey Man Nice Shot” isn’t the clearest, nor is it the most sensitive per se. But the vocalist does express some remorse, which is basically that he did use the opportunity to meet the addressee while such actually existed.
Filter and “Hey Man Nice Shot”
It is possible that you’ve never heard of Filter before, even though this act, which hails from Ohio, has more or less been around for three decades of this writing. The band was co-founded by Richard Patrick, who was down with Nine Inch Nails for a few years just prior to the formation of Filter.
Filter’s heyday was circa the band’s early goings of the 1990s. For instance, “Hey Man Nice Shot”, which Reprise Records issued as their debut single on 18 July 1995, is one of the bigger hits in their catalog – for instance having peaked at number 10 on the US Alternative Airplay chart.
This song more recently generated quite a few headlines, in September of 2022, when it was covered by the aforementioned Nine Inch Nails alongside Richard Patrick.
This track’s music video was directed by one Kevin Kerslake.
R. Patrick wrote “Hey Man Nice Shot”. He also co-produced it with his Filter co-founder, Brian Liesegang.
You can find this track on the band’s first LP, which is 1995’s “Short Bus”.
There is another song that came out earlier in 1994 that uses the same guitar line as “Hey Man Nice Shot”, that being “Ungod” by Stabbing Westward.