My traveling companions on last night’s trip to drop a friend off at work didn’t think too highly of me listening to “The Metal Show” on my favorite radio station, WDBX-FM. Of course, a bad headache doesn’t normally incline one to seek out black metal, does it?
I ended up channel-surfing, and caught the opening notes of Metallica’s “The Unforgiven,” a song I surely listened to many times in junior and senior high school, and on a “classic rock” station no less! It stung a bit to see my adolescent faves lumped in with Bad Company and Foghat.
My first thought– “Crap, I’m old.”
Yes, I used to be a little metalhead. I wore through a few copies of Master of Puppets, and could sing along with pretty much every Metallica song… and most of Megadeth’s, too. With my limited funds for purchasing tapes; Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and these two bands provided more than enough listening material, especially given that this was around the time MCA went beserk and started releasing those “Ultimate Experience” tapes and re-issues to confuse me!
I’m getting sidetracked. Suffice it to say that I spent a lot of time listening to Metallica. I can barely recall my first job as a golf course lackey without simultaneously conjuring the bored, sweaty hours spent picking up balls on the range while lugging my mom’s yellow “Sport” Walkman around– those crummy hard plastic ear bud torture devices jammed deep into my ear canal, channeling James Hetfield’s desperate growl straight to my brain. Most of all, I remember rewinding the solo from “Shortest Straw” over and over, unable to believe in Hammett’s incredible finesse. The rest of the time, I flash back on the lyrics of “The Unforgiven,”
“They dedicate their lives / to running all of his /He tries to please them all / this bitter man he is…”
My life sucked. Sue me for having an overworked sense of drama! Between working for a pervert, lacking the confidence to assert myself, and generally being a social outcast; I’m surprised I didn’t take the Judas Priest route and “do it”.
Anyhow, I knew I was getting older; there have certainly been plenty of signals. Megadeth signed to Sanctuary Records, who seem to specialize in bands with one foot in the county fair… then Metallica released a steaming pile apparently featuring Lars Ulrich playing his electro-snare/anvil… and then AC/DC actually came back as a pre-teen t-shirt phenomenon– how weird was that? I mean, this is the T-shirt Butt-head wore, right?
I guess I just hadn’t found a convenient frame of reference yet to judge the “now” alongside the “then.” For whatever reason, hearing Metallica on a classic rock station did it for me. And while I congratulate them on finding another radio teat offering the endless flow of royalty manna, I’m not exactly thrilled with the feeling that I’m an old-timer.