Thursday, May 18, 2017

Metallica Showed Me Subtext

There was a time in my life when it never really occurred that song was trying to tell me anything other than the single story.

Granted, I was much younger then than I am now. This was when I was very much into Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin.

Naturally, those bands are a pretty big deal, but none of them really said anything that was outside of what they sang.

Years later, I would get into Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, and Metallica.

Even though subtext is still my personal Achilles Heel, I can tell you that Metallica's songs were about something bigger than just moving you for the moment.

In the Eighties, when they came up, that wasn't a really big deal. The Ronald Reagan Era, i.e. the plastic life of lies and treason, was in full swing when Master of Puppets came out and George H W Bush was still maintaining Reagan's policies in 1989 when ...And Justice For All was released.

While Metallica was singing about how men were wasted on the battlefield, Ozzy Osbourne was preparing to sing about transforming into a werewolf or getting high. Though, honorable mention goes to Killer of Giants.

Poison's Look What The Cat Dragged In was also really broaching some serious territory with Talk Dirty To Me. Surely they were the spiritual successor to Dylan and Hendrix right?

(Note: I love Poison and there's nothing wrong with singing about good times.)

Listen to the title track of their 1989 record though, and you'll be thinking about it afterwards. Then thinking of the high profile trials that came, and one really did wonder if the halls of justice were painted green.

Especially since Ronald Reagan and Oliver North seemed to land on their feet over selling arms to Iran....our enemy.

During the First Gulf War...Disposable Heroes really said a lot to me.

There's no shortage of Metallica songs that could be looked at through the lens of history, either at the same time or around it.

It's not necessarily about bleak the world is, but how musicians had forgotten that they were singing all the news that wasn't fit to sing, sorry Phil.

Metallica was a gateway for me.

Before hearing Metallica and all of those nights reading the lyrics as I listened to the CDs and cassette tapes, it nothing ever really occurred to me.

After all of that, it was easy to see that there was a wider world and Metallica had helped me enter into it.

So many other bands meant so much more to me after hearing them. It was kind of like that scene in White Men Can't Jump. I had to hear what they were saying more than just listening to the bitchin' guitar solos.

It feels like what Metallica gave me was far greater than all I have given to them. My joke had always been that I was a music buff when I was 8. It's true, there was a lot of music in my life back then, but it was just about pretty sounds.

In just over a month from now, I will be attending my first stadium show and seeing Metallica, most likely for the third and final time. They came into my life nearly thirty years ago and my fanhood as never withered.

There were rocky passages in the Nineties and the Oughts, but Metallica always turned it back around. Perhaps my eyes can be blind to their faults, but Metallica's music has been a constant wellspring of joy in my life.

And Master of Puppets... it's the only album I've purchased on cassette, CD, and vinyl.

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