Dave Mustaine is one of thrash metal’s most influential figures. His songs, albums, and guitar-playing style with Megadeth are the stuff of legends, and he has influenced many musicians. Most heavy metal fans know at least one Megadeth song that has struck a chord. Here are Dave Mustaine‘s 12 favorite songs of all time and what they have meant to him over the years.
From Dave Mustaine‘s fundamental position as a co-founder of Metallica to his progression as Megadeth‘s vocalist and lead guitarist. His complex guitar skills, thoughtful songwriting, and relentless perseverance have cemented his position as a true icon.
Mustaine’s guitar technique smoothly combines sophisticated melodies with searing guitars, resulting in anthems such as “Symphony of Destruction” and “Hangar 18.” His playing embodies the technical perfection and emotional depth that have come to characterize Megadeth’s sound.
Tracks like “A Tout le Monde” and “Peace Sells” shows his skills to portray complicated emotions with an honesty that resonates deeply with people.
Mustaine’s journey has been fraught with personal and professional difficulties. While leaving Metallica was traumatic, it spurred his drive to carve his path with Megadeth. Fighting addiction and surviving health difficulties, including a triumphant cancer comeback, demonstrate his undying perseverance and dedication to his profession.
Offstage, Mustaine’s support for mental health awareness and addiction recovery has proved his influence beyond music. His honesty about his difficulties has motivated countless people to seek assistance and support in their life.
Dave Mustaine’s Favorite Songs of All Time
Megadeth‘s frontman Dave Mustaine has shared his respect for the other metal musicians. And Mustaine picks his favorite songs of all time. Regardless, he also listens to different genres, but he loves metal and rock bands especially those who show their influence on him. There is no particular order on this list. Check out Dave Mustaine‘s favorite songs below!
Which songs does Dave Mustaine listen to?
- “Hangar 18”
- “Ride the Lightning”
- “Symphony of Destruction”
- “In My Darkest Hour”
- “Holy Wars … the Punishment Due”
- “She Wolf”
- “Peace Sells”
- “Sweating Bullets”
- “Anarchy in the U.K.”
- “Use the Man”
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Megadeth‘s frontman Dave Mustaine shared the top 12 songs of all time. Check out Dave Mustaine‘s favorite songs below!
1. “Mechanix” – (1985 – Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good!)
Dave Mustaine has always been very vocal about his time with Metallica and how he wanted to get back at them during Megadeth’s beginnings. In that regard, it’s unsurprising that “Mechanix” is one of his most precious songs and one that he holds dear when push comes to show.
The lyrics are about a guy working at a gas station and having a high libido. Nothing out of the extraordinary considering that it was the eighties, but the special part is that he wrote this song when he was with Metallica and was even part of one of the band’s demos. Regardless, Lars and company retooled the song for their debut, 1983’s Kill ’em All, and turned it into “The Four Horsemen”.
The song starts slowly but then explodes into pure Thrash Metal mayhem. Mustaine was also a considerable Punk fan in his early years as a musician and this song shows how much he loved the genre. A powerful musical statement and a perfect example of how much of a thrash metal maestro Dave Mustaine was in his prime.
Dave Mustaine talks about why he likes “Mechanix” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“‘Mechanix’ was a song that we played and one day I came to rehearsal with Cliff Burton and Lars goes, “Oh, fuck, man, we’ve gotta change this one part.” I’d been listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd in the car with Cliff and I figured, “OK, I’ll play ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ he’ll never know.” And he was like, “Fuck, man, that’s the greatest part ever.” And so I went, “Oh, my God. You’re kidding, right?”
So “Mechanix” with “Sweet Home Alabama” in the beginning is what we fondly know now as “The Four Horsemen.” James rewrote a lot of those lyrics for that particular song and “Jump in the Fire,” he rewrote those lyrics, too. Not quite as much, but he didn’t really like the sexual connotations in that song that much. So he changed it more about jumping into a pit where I said, “jump into the fire,” which I think is a little bit more of an innuendo. It could be anything that’s, you know… A pit is one thing.
The version of “Mechanix” I recorded with Megadeth was a lot faster than “The Four Horsemen,” that’s for sure. It’s nowhere near where we did with those guys, because by then I was already way pissed off.”
2. “Hangar 18” – (1990 – Rust in Peace)
Dave Mustaine is known for a lot of things and one of those is that he is a very good musician. 1990’s Rust in Peace record proved that and “Hangar 18” was one of Megadeth’s biggest hits. Fans all over the world still love this song and shows Dave’s virtuoso levels of songwriting.
According to the man himself, this song had been built up since his days before Metallica, with a band called Panic. He retooled it as the years went by until becoming “Hangar 18” in the Rust in Peace sessions. Drummer Nick Menza added the lyrics about aliens and Megadeth turned the song into a Speed Metal behemoth.
It’s one of the band’s most complete songs and has one of the best guitar work ever put to tape. Mustaine and Friedman were doing some outrageous work on this album and this song is a very good example of that approach. No wonder this song (and this record) has become a legend in the genre.
Dave Mustaine reveals for why he likes “Hangar 18” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“‘Hangar 18’ was something I had from the band I was in before Metallica, also. It was called “N2RHQ” and it was about an environment that was up on another planet. And as it morphed through going into Metallica and us deciding whether we were gonna do that song. I just waited to revisit it in Megadeth, just like in Panic, I had the song “Rust in Peace … Polaris” completely done; it was called “Child Saint” back at that time. And I’m sure that if I would’ve shown it to the guys, Metallica probably would’ve recorded that one also.”
3. “Ride the Lightning” – (1984 – Metallica’s Ride the Lightning)
Metallica let Dave Mustaine go before the release of their first album, leading to the formation of Megadeth. However, Dave’s former band still used some of the songs he wrote, and the title song for the 1984 Ride the Lightning album was one of them.
Regardless, the guitarist was very proud of how the song turned out. He has been vocal about his back-and-forth with Lars while writing it, with both musicians having their input in the music. It has become one of Metallica’s most underrated songs and a testament to what Dave Mustaine could have done with that band if he had remained there.
“Ride the Lightning” has a powerful main riff and the rhythm is quite catchy, making the song stick in your head from the get-go. It shows the combination of all the band members, especially with James Hetfield’s vocal delivery and lyrics about death by the electric chair. This, along with Mustaine’s input in the heavier sections, made it one of those Metallica songs that shouldn’t be ignored.
Dave Mustaine mentions why he likes “Ride the Lightning” by Metallica as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“I got over them using my songs a long time ago. You can obsess on shit like that or you can let it go, and nothing is gonna change it. You’ve got two great bands. We’re friends. Stuff happened. Fuck, I forgave Ellefson after suing me for 18-and-a-half-million dollars, I can forgive those guys for using my songs. And honestly if it hadn’t have been for that vehicle, what we started – and I mean we with a capital fucking W-E – you know, I think they did great. I’m really proud of them.
By the time we put out Killing in 1985, I had moved on. But I had all this stuff in my mind, in my catalog that I didn’t get a chance to show those guys. We were progressing down a very simplistic road with that band. I can’t remember who said it, but someone very prominent, very smart said, “Metallica is like to the Ramones what Megadeth is to the Clash.”
And I thought that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I saw another comparison “Metallica is Iron Maiden to Megadeth is Led Zeppelin” and I thought, “Hey that’s really a good way to look at it, too.” Because we are a little bit more twisty and turny.”
4. “Symphony of Destruction” – (1992 – Countdown to Extinction)
1992’s Countdown to Extinction was pivotal for Megadeth and Dave Mustaine. It turned the band into a worldwide juggernaut and gave them the commercial success they worked so hard for during their careers. So it’s not surprising that Dave has this riff-dominant masterpiece, “Symphony of Destruction”, as one of his favorite songs.
The main riff alone is enough reason to understand why Mustaine loves this. It has an almost hypnotic rhythm to it. His vocals fit pretty well with the vibe that the track has and flows amazingly. Marty Friedman and Dave were a fantastic guitar duo; this song is a great example.
The lyrics also show Mustaine’s passion for social commentary. No matter the era, the man always has something to say about society and politicians, which “Symphony of Destruction” does with gusto. The combination of incredible hooks with such a strong message has made it one of the most iconic Megadeth songs of all time.
Dave Mustaine shares why he likes “Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“‘Symphony’ was real simple. It came from a Time Life magazine commercial and the movie The Manchurian Candidate, ’cause I had just watched that. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be that person, to have been programmed in your subconscious and not know it and have a job of that importance and then someone just says a word and flips the switch on you and the fucking jig is up for everybody. That’s what “Symphony of Destruction” was about.
And then, during the chorus: I like to always have some positive stuff in there, so I included the Pied Piper, that old proverb, poem, whatever it was called, the story.”
5. “In My Darkest Hour” – (1988 – So Far, So Good … So What!)
It’s not surprising that Dave Mustaine has stated that this is one of his favorite Megadeth songs. The lyrics were dedicated to a woman called Diana he had dated for years, and the music was dedicated to Cliff Burton.
As many Metal fans know, Cliff was the bassist of Metallica and one of Dave’s bandmates when he was with that band. They had a strong bond and the instrumental parts of the song were inspired by Burton’s sudden passing in 1986.
It’s Megadeth and Mustaine at their finest. And fans have loved this song for years. It’s a combination of all the things people love about this band in a nutshell. Perfect to get fans into the band and to explain why Dave Mustaine has so many fans all over the world.
Dave Mustaine talks about why he likes “In My Darkest Hour” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“The “darkest hour” in the song is me knowing that I was alone. The lyrics are about Diana, my muse, the same woman I was dating around “Loved to Deth.” I wrote “Tornado of Souls,” “Trust,” “This Was My Life,” “99 Ways to Die” – those were all about her, too. I’m very, very happily in love with my wife, but there’s only been one other person who’s really gone to that depth inside my heart. And I think we all have that where we have a relationship with somebody we really fall in love with but it doesn’t necessarily always last.
That song evokes a lot of feelings. The first time I played it, Cliff’s mom and dad were at our show. I could do it in the studio and in rehearsal, but with them there, I could not get through it. You don’t even know where those feelings come from. It’s like, do I have these feelings? And then all of a sudden you do a song and we can’t control … It’s like, shit, those are real. I didn’t really have a chance to say goodbye. I mean, I didn’t even know where he was buried. So that kind of shows how that all went down. But I’ll see him in heaven. That’s the cool thing. At least I believe that.”
6. “Holy Wars … the Punishment Due” – (1990 – Rust in Peace)
Megadeth is a band known for their technical level and “Holy Wars…” is a great example. Mustaine’s story about their show in Ireland in the 80s inspired the first half of the song’s lyrics are very known. His love for The Punisher comics also forms the song’s second half of the lyrics.
The song is passionate, filled with technique, and rhythm changes galore. Mustaine also rips one of the best solos of his entire career. This song’s music video also introduced the world to the classic 90s Megadeth lineup, making it even more valuable for their careers.
It’s one of Megadeth’s more ambitious moments and shows the power of the Rust in Peace lineup. The Mustaine/Menza/Ellefson/Friedman is widely regarded as the band’s best-ever lineup and a song like “Holy Wars…” is a phenomenal example of what they can do at their prime.
Dave Mustaine speaks about why he likes “Holy Wars … the Punishment Due” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“I was really mad about what happened over there so I was really beating my guitar to make that riff come out. That’s why it was really fast.
The second part of the song, “The Punishment Due” – which comes in after the Middle Eastern part – is about Frank Castle from Marvel’s The Punisher. We timed that so that part would be at the end, “the could-be messenger of God.”
There’s so many people who act like that. So we tried to make a complete shift and make it really melodic, something really Beatles-esque with that sweeping pattern that went back and forth. The chorus was definitely like a Beatles pattern. One of the first music books I ever got was an anthology by the Beatles so I learned so many brilliant chord progressions from those guys. And that’s a song that has a lot of chord progressions that they use moving bass lines underneath a chord.”
7. “She Wolf” – (1997 – Cryptic Writings)
Megadeth didn’t have the best of times in the late 90s. The band lost their musical identity, and Mustaine desperately wanted a hit single. Thus, Cryptic Writings is a cynical attempt at a cash grab, although “She Wolf” has become a fan favorite.
Dave Mustaine has said that the lyrics were about a woman dating a friend of his who tried to seduce him. The song is pretty and straightforward for Megadeth’s standards, but it has a strong chorus and some great guitar melodies—nothing much to write about but one of those simple and effective Megadeth tunes.
Dave Mustaine talks about why he likes “She Wolf” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“I wrote “She Wolf” about something that happened to a manager we had at the time who I was really close with. He had just started dating this girl. I knew she was dating him because she had just broken up with her boyfriend, who was one of my friends who worked at MTV. And I had heard from my wife and Ellefson’s wife that they saw her back with her ex while she was dating my friend. We went down to Brazil and she tried to pick up on me down there.
When I got back to America I told my friend what happened, and she goes, “No, he tried picking up on me.” I was really, really mad. “How could you say that about me? You’re not even attractive.”
And I go, “OK, you’re it. I’m gonna lay you out.” So I wrote “She Wolf” about her.”
8. “Peace Sells” – (1986 – Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying?)
The 1986 “Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying?” album saved Megadeth. That was the record that saved the band when they were broke and were barely surviving, cementing their place as Thrash Metal gods. If it wasn’t for this album and the title track’s iconic music video, perhaps Mustaine would have been forgotten.
The bass intro by David Ellefson is the stuff of legends; the same goes for Mustaine’s lyrics. The song reeks of iconic moments and it’s one of the band’s most popular tunes. The riff in the chorus makes the entire song work and shows how Megadeth were ahead of their time.
Mustaine has gone on record saying that he knew this song was great when he wrote it. He also highlighted how this paved a new path for the band, going from pure Thrash to something more ambitious.
Dave Mustaine reveals why he likes “Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying?” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“I wrote it because I was tired of people mocking metal in general and mocking people who are metal fans. It was hard for me to watch the way we were stereotyped on TV, just as dumbasses. For the most part, I think that a lot of musicians are very intelligent and very talented. It’s a bummer the way people had been stereotyped.
I knew when I wrote that song that I was onto something because prior to that song, everything was just shred-festing and just playing really fast, aggressive stuff. But as soon as “Peace Sells” came out, it was like, “Wow this is really a song-song,” something that, unbeknownst to myself, would stand the test of time, something that would be my friend forever.
Never had I gotten that feeling from our previous songs. I never thought, “Hey, you’re gonna be playing this song every night for the rest of your life.”
9. “Sweating Bullets” – (1992 – Countdown to Extinction)
Mustaine’s creative peak was during the early 90s. The entirety of the 80s and early 90s saw the man crafting some of the best songs in Metal. His combination of intensity with technique was very unique and he also developed a knack for catchy melodies. “Sweating Bullets” could be considered as one of Mustaine’s greatest achievements.
It’s no secret that Dave Mustaine’s vocals are a divisive topic. Not everybody is a fan of the man’s singing, which has kept some people from even enjoying Megadeth. However, there is no denying that he has gotten a lot from his singing, and “Sweating Bullets” is a perfect example of this.
Dave has always been very vocal about his personal life and the obstacles he has overcome. Megadeth’s lyrics are mainly about Mustaine’s life and perspective. In that regard, this song shows a lot of his mental struggles and is done as satire, especially considering how he sings.
The musicianship is superb, with the band tight as ever and pulling some significant rhythm changes. It’s the kind of song that can define a band, and Megadeth enjoyed a lot of success with this tune’s music video.
Dave Mustaine shares why he likes “Sweating Bullets” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“My wife used to have this crazy friend who had anxiety and they would go to parties all the time. Her friend would freak out and get in the car and drive off and then I’d get a call from my wife and she’d say, “Eh, she left me again,” and I’d have to get in the car and come get her.
And you think it’d be the other way around having a rock-star boyfriend, at the time, that he’d be calling you to come and get him. So I wrote “Sweating Bullets” about her friend. She may have figured out that it was about her – my wife may have told her in a heated moment so her friend would hate me – but I’ve never named her. I don’t think my wife knows where the girl’s at now.”
10. “Anarchy in the U.K.” – (1988 – So Far, So Good … So What!)
Mustaine has mentioned this song as one of his favorites for a very simple reason: this Sex Pistols cover has a Sex Pistols member. Guitarist Steve Jones joined Megadeth for the recording of this cover and that meant a lot to Dave, who was a huge fan of the band for years.
Dave’s vocals fit pretty well with this song: his voice can do what Johnny Rotten did and add a thrash metal feel. The track feels raw and powerful, much like old-school Punk. This song also shows some of Megadeth’s earlier musical roots, which is always appreciated.
Overall, it is a straightforward cover and doesn’t change much from the original. It was an excellent achievement for Dave, and the song has become a fun fact in the thrash metal genre.
Dave Mustaine talks about why he likes “Anarchy in the U.K.” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“I’d met Steve Jones at this point but I don’t remember how, maybe through David Ellefson. I asked him if he would come and play on the record for us and I don’t know if he was trying to be funny or if he was trying to be rude but when I asked him what he wanted for doing it, he said, “Just give me a hundred bucks and some suction.” And I was like, “Surely you don’t mean me.” So I said “OK, we’re gonna give you a thousand bucks and a yellow pages. You can find it yourself.” And he came in the studio and had a cast on his arm and he had just been broadsided by a lady who broke his arm.
And in true Sex Pistol fashion, he came in and played over “Anarchy.” You can tell he’s the guitar that’s out of tune. It’s so rock & roll, man. It’s like, f***ing-A, there’s a living, breathing Sex Pistol playing on one of my recordings.”
11. “Use the Man” – (1997 – Cryptic Writings)
“Use the Man” was a minor hit from the 1997 Cryptic Writings album, but Mustaine has mentioned how special it was for him. The main reason for this is because of the lyrics and how it explores his drug addiction problems.
Mustaine has repeatedly gone on record saying how long it took him to leave drugs behind. It was a long road that he has shown in his songs over the years. This track is a power ballad of sorts and the lyrics explore how the drugs control the man and not vice versa.
The song itself has a rare structure in Megadeth’s catalog. It’s a ballad that doesn’t fit with the band’s overall ethos and never fully hit with the fans over the years. However, it also has an exciting place in Megadeth’s history because of its weird structure and how Mustaine shows some of his addiction struggles.
Dave Mustaine shares why he likes “Use the Man” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“When I was working on the record, I went to a 12-step meeting in a place right next to the studio. The guy who runs it told me he had something to show me, and he had this box and goes, “Check this out.” And I’m looking through it and he goes, “That’s Bob,” for lack of a better name. Then he told me that earlier in the day, a guy had gone to a meeting and then shot up and died at the halfway house and that this box was all his stuff. So he’s having me casually look through this stuff and told me it was a dead guy’s. I was like, “F***er.”
He was trying to get a message across to me and it worked – I’m still alive. I wrote the lyrics to “Use the Man” immediately. “I heard somebody fixed today/There was no last goodbyes to say.” There’s a proverb in China or Japan that goes, “First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes the drink, then the drink takes the man.” I thought, “The same thing could be said about the needle.”
First the man uses the needle, then the needle uses the needle, then the needle uses the man. And that’s where the title came from. These guys come out of prison, go to a halfway house, their systems have cleaned out, but they think they can use half as much and get twice as high. They don’t realize that their systems have cleaned out, and they O.D. So that’s what “Use the Man” was about. It’s a very, very sad song about people overdosing on drugs, and it was also inspired by Neil Young’s ‘Needle and the Damage Done.'”
12. “Dystopia” – (2016 – Dystopia)
Megadeth’s first-ever Grammy win, so it’s not surprising that Dave Mustaine has it as one of his favorite songs. While some fans may not rate it as deserving of the accolade, it’s more of a reward for decades of being one of thrash metal’s most incredible acts.
Be that as it may, “Dystopia” shows many of Mustaine’s social analyses compellingly. It also helps that the song has a guitar piece, the lyrics are excellent, and the melodies easily flow. It’s one of those songs that stick in your mind the moment you listen to them.
Dave Mustaine has had a long and successful career with many ups and downs. If anything, “Dystopia” serves as a reward for everything he has done for the thrash metal genre over the years and is the culmination of decades of hard work. The genre wouldn’t be the same without Megadeth and wouldn’t certainly be the same without Mustaine.
Dave Mustaine talks about why he likes “Dystopia” by Megadeth as one of his favorite songs of all time:
“The song is about loving my fellow man and wanting them – for us – to pull together and to really just try and not be so, just, angsty for one another. People are so quick to jump on somebody if they say something wrong or if they’re wearing the wrong thing.
We’ve got the fucking typo police on the net. My family was at the venue last night and some girls that were sitting next to them were making all kinds of terrible comments about them because they looked attractive. It’s like, why do we not love each other enough where we have to have jealousy for other people? What’s wrong with that picture? Why has that person not found someone that would make them feel OK that they would have to say shitty stuff about an 18-year-old girl. What the fuck’s wrong with you?”
What are your thoughts on Megadeth‘s frontman Dave Mustaine‘s favorite songs of all time? Let us know in the comment section!