Metallica Fridays (no. 14): Staying Out Of The Comfort Zone

i’m gonna be honest. i have been feeling pretty uninspired this past week, with a few mental bumps in the road- things i usually don’t talk about, unless asked. i’ve been getting better at doing some physical therapy and using the prosthetic, which is wonderful since it’s getting me one step closer to being more mobile. That said, i have these particular feelings and mental blocks that come and go… fortunately not transforming into the ‘unnamed feeling’ (which i HAVE experienced on this journey, and wish upon no one.

i didn’t really feel like playing music at all, but i wanted to do a ‘Metallica Fridays’ post. And i’m glad i did, because it actually helped me to get out of that space i was experiencing. (And of course as i go to post, tech issues ensued. So this post is late. What is new?)

i also kept focusing on how many mistakes i make. Even though i say ‘yes, this is a journey and mistakes are made and you learn from them’, i still cringe at them.

Then a thing happened. i saw MelSickScreamoAnnie (or Meliani) do a performance of ‘Fade To Black’ (a song that is difficult for me to listen to, for obvious reasons). This is a person whose skills on the guitar are phenomenal, and in this reading of the song she made massive mistakes. That was her first time performing outside of Indonesia, and to the performance, she said she didn’t “want to share at first because i made many mistakes… but i guess i shouldn’t really overthink about it.”

That put things in perspective. She is a far superior musician than i.


As i was thinking about what songs to do for this post, i (again) went through a concentrated listening cycle, and it really did assist in lifting my mood. Metallica’s music on one end, helps me to make sense of death (as i’ve stated in other posts) and speaks to mental health struggles i experience; listening to them though, doesn’t always necessarily make me happy. Sometimes it does though, and this week it happened to.

The longer i’ve returned to the drums (and playing instruments in general), the less i understand why people attack Lars. Is he the most technical? Of course not. And that’s okay. Dude ‘s penchant for arranging deserves way more credit. Also, the way he plays, very few people can capture his nuances. i know i certainly can’t, despite doing fills inspired by him, sometimes subconsciously.

i don’t care what anyone says. Lars is dope.

‘Atlas Rise’ is one of my favorite songs from the band; it is also my favorite song on Hardwired… To Self Destruct. At this point, you see how Lars combined the best of the ‘thrash’ and TBA/Load/ReLoad periods. The working title of this song was ‘N.W.O.B.H.M. A.T.M.’, and the influence of ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ bands is clear here. Thematically, the song (along with songs such as ‘Dirty Window’ and ‘Holier Than Thou’) is a continuation of addressing (inter)personal contradictions. The reading of the lyrics may not have the same youthful anger as ‘Dyers Eve’, but age and life’s experience give it a similar grit and rage.

And the harmony to the final ‘RIIIIIIIIIIIIIISE’, i love it so much. This is such a perfect Metallica song.

Every time i do these posts, i have to keep saying it- Metallica can write dope songs in their sleep. There is a reason why they are my favorite metal band. Welllll… several reasons. i know it gets heard by everybody and their mama, but ‘Sad But True’ goes hard. Tell me that song isn’t a head nodder.

Go ahead. tell me.

It’s another well-written track that has dope riffs and pensive lyrics that have been interpreted in various ways, from the narrator being personal demons (or the devil himself) to addiction. This is also the first song i ever heard, where i truly began to understand what people meant when they were talking about music production. Bob Rock did the thing. Cassettes are not known for having the greatest sound quality (and i wore out all my Metallica tapes); however, even on cassette this song stood out to me.

The Alesis obviously doesn’t do justice to the Tama Artstar II (my dream drum set), and i haven’t messed around with the midi enough yet to separate the drums to make, for instance, the kick louder. That said, i am not going to complain one bit. i’m playing drums, and it’s a great outlet and mental balancer.

Thanks Clyde, and thanks Lars.

Aaaaaaaand we have another music video, featuring Touré and Blue! These videos are always fun to make, and they lift my spirits. And i know y’all don’t wanna sit there and watch me play bass for 6 or 7 minutes… i hope you enjoy them as well!

i also hope i didn’t disrespect Cliff at all, with my bass playing. i didn’t do any of the runs he did in the song- i’m not that great of a player!!! ‘Seek And Destroy’ is a really fun song to play though! Doing these ‘Metallica Friday’ posts have also challenged me to do what i’ve never done before- play to Metallica songs. Even with this, i am out of my comfort zone. As with many other of their songs (not just the Justice album) the bass is mixed way low, so i did mix it a bit higher, but not enough to overpower the rest of the instruments.

Metallica Fridays (no. 13): Still Making Sense Of Death And Anger

Much of the time, the songs i choose for each week’s Metallica posts have a lot to do with where i’m at mentally at that time, or if the songs are relative to a particular experience. There are also plenty of times i wake up with random songs of theirs in my head.

The morning of making music for this post i woke up earlier than usual, with not only ‘Invisible Kid’ in my brain, but a particular arrangement of it in my head. i couldn’t go back to sleep, so i got out the guitar and began playing what was in my head, over and over… The tiredness hit me, so i went back to bed.

As the day went on, the song shifted into a whole other energy. i decided to use the drums as the foundation, and work around that. The energy of the end result actually ended up sounding more similar to Joy Division or The Cure than what i played in the morning.

The journey of songwriting…

i tried to sing the song in the original key (which is what i initially played on guitar). But that was painful to hear. i’m already not that great of a singer (but i do it anyway). So i guess i’m an alto or a contralto or something? i have no idea.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that i am a St. Anger fanboi. i appreciate it not only for its representation of a band struggling to find peace with itself in some way- creatively, mentally and spiritually; it’s also an album in which the subject matter is heavily identifiable to me. The album is an experience in catharsis.

i was that ‘invisible kid’ growing up. i was the shy, quiet kid that kept a lot of things inside, until they sometimes boiled over. Like a lot of kids in this predicament i had friends and hung out, and hid a lot of my feelings- until, again, they sometimes boiled over. i wanted love, but didn’t necessarily know how to receive it. Sometimes i’ve pushed people away by showing love in overwhelming ways. i can talk extensively and excitedly about particular things; however, to this day, when people ask me how i’m feeling i struggle with that, and don’t always know how to answer… so i am most likely to give short answers. i always need to be checking in with people, but sometimes the simplest questions seem intrusive, even when they’re not.

The push/pull the invisible kid experiences is very real… “I’m OK, just go away… but please don’t stray too far.”

(All instruments and vocals are by me.)

A few times in 2006 (in the midst of working on Death Magnetic), the band did live performances of ‘The New Song’ (aka ‘Death Is Not The End’). Of course, the various riffs heard in this working version ended up being portions of various songs officially released on the upcoming album, released in 2008- most notably, ‘All Nightmare Long’ and ‘End Of The Line’. It’s always exciting to see them perform new, unfinished and rare material.

Double kick is all over this song (what’s new?); and of course i only have one foot, so i had to work with what i got. People also might look at this song as not being the most difficult to play (and it’s definitely not the most difficult in their repertoire); however, it’s got that ‘Lars timing’ all over it. There’s a number of parts you have to remember.

i love the songs this working title developed into. i also love this unfinished version. Metallica’s songs speak an awful lot about death, but it’s not always about physical death. i didn’t think about it a lot prior to the accident. After it happened , their music helped me make sense of a lot that was going on, and helped in learning to truly make sense of death- of relationships, of particular feelings… of a leg.

Death really is not the end. Death must occur to give birth to a whole new consciousness.

‘The Unnamed Feeling’ is a tough one for me. The lyrics describe every single thing i’ve been through at various periods in my life.

i hate living with depression. i love myself and am grateful for life, but sometimes my brain just snaps and i either desire to, or attempt to end it all. i hate it. i don’t wish this on anyone.

i can’t convince people to love St. Anger as much as i do; i understand why people sincerely do hate it. But the album is a very healing one for me.

(Interestingly, the camera decided to fall during this song. i kept it anyway.)

j Plays The Hits!

It’s not like i don’t have fun playing the drums, but today we’re just having a different type of fun, just playing some straight 4/4 beats, and experimenting with variations in drum sounds. i would have to go a bit deeper into the MIDI in order to separate each drum (since each program represents the total set), but for now, i’m just using the different setups and tweaking it a bit in the Audacity settings, such as adding bass, reverb, etc.

While i’m clearly playing a gang of punk/hardcore (and Metallica) on this site, as i mentioned in a previous post, there’s a range of music out there… some of which i hope to be able to play well someday.

One of the artists i wanted to give light to today is one of my favorites of all time- Teena Marie. She was one of the artists i cried for when she passed in 2010, and i fortunately got to see her live some years before it happened. The one thing i am upset at myself about is that i actually had an opportunity to meet her, and i didn’t do it. She is a massive inspiration to me in that not only was she is a multi-instrumentalist; she was also a composer, arranger and producer. Just as the industry is want to do, she was presented with the limitation of being called an ‘R&B’ artist. However, the woman’s music represented a bulk of her sonic inspirations: jazz, classic pop, funk, classical, rock, soul, country and more. This five foot one-inch lady was a powerhouse.

…A powerhouse who, despite achieving some level of fame, was never respected in the ways she should have been. It was actually because of her lawsuit against Motown, that the Brockert Initiative (aka ‘The Teena Marie Law’) was born. With that, artists could be let go of their contracts when the label is just sitting there not producing anything. i remember a coworker (who was European and LOVED him some Teena Marie) telling me he got grief from other folks because they thought she was ‘too soulful’ (and if you’ve been paying attention, you know what that means). If you don’t know who Miss Mary Christine Brockert is, please go find her music, and have a wonderful day.

Here, i am playing to ‘Lovergirl’, perhaps one of her biggest hits (outside of ‘Ooh La La La’).

Another band i have seen live (and had a lot of fun too) was Tulsa, Oklahoma’s own The Gap Band. They named their band in honor of those who perished in the ‘Black Wall Street’ massacre- in fact, Charlie Wilson states, “(W)e’d have to talk about that, and where the name came from.” The massacre happened in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, and the GAP in GAP Band stands for the streets of Greenwood, Archer and Pine.

They started of as a more traditional funk band in the 70s, and became a bit more well known amidst their ‘electro funk’ period in the 80s. ‘You Dropped A Bomb On Me’ is perhaps one of their most well-known tracks (hence the title of this post). i always look at Charlie Wilson as coming from the direct vocal lineage of Stevie Wonder (just as Stevie Wonder took cues from the great Donny Hathaway). Aaron Hall came from the lineage of Charlie Wilson… and the dude i will not mention (who i guess, believed he could fly and stuff) was born out of the lineage of Aaron Hall. And so on.

i made a couple of changes in this version. i definitely used more toms than the original, and i also alternated between half time and traditional 4/4.

And i don’t care what anybody says. ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ is a good song. i know people think of it as a meme in this day and age; and while i’m not always a fan of ‘traditional pop’ in general, the Stock Aitken Waterman team did write a good song. They actually did write some good stuff (like Princess’ ‘Say I’m Your Number One’), but in general they wrote typical stuff that is just… meh. However (possibly because it straight up jacked the far superior ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams), ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ is the jam.

Of course, the OG song is straight up drum programming, so i had to figure out how i was going to play it. And of course, the end result (despite it being electronic drums), still sounded weird… because it’s supposed to model an acoustic drum set. So i did tweak things a bit in post.

And as a result you get… this.


Metallica Fridays (no. 12) Yeah! (and more thoughts and feelings and such)

Yes, i know today is Saturday. It took a while to do the editing, , so i’m posting this later than usual.

As i’ve probably mentioned before, i have a lot of music floating around in my head. So many things sound like music to me. So of course (because i needed to laugh) i put on one of those James Hetfield ‘Yeah’ compilations. As i’m sitting there laughing a rhythm popped in my head, and an idea was born.

i am a huge fan of house music; i’ve made a series of house songs and remixes before, and several beats were experimented on before the one which ended up here. Hetfield is (to me) one of the greatest voices in rock/metal, but his voice is musical enough to fit in various spaces. i’m not sure that strict metal fans would be into something like this, but hopefully folks will enjoy it. Though it took a while to create it was a lot of fun to make.

i have a feeling the most diehard of Metallica fans will know the specific footage, as well as where all (or most) of the ‘Yeahs’ come from. There is such an amazing wealth of ‘Yeahs’; if i were to put them all in a song, it would be a half hour song (at least). It was difficult to choose. i felt inspired by doing this one, i thought about what songs i could do for the other dudes in the band.

Stay tuned…

(All instruments and drum programming: me. All images and video courtesy of the internet)

i know i said ‘The God That Failed’ was the song that made me a fan of The Black Album (aka Metallica); however, ‘Through The Never’ has always been my favorite song on the album. i obviously always enjoyed it, but its significance holds a lot more to me since the accident. Not all of their songs are sad or angry (of course), but it’s one of the few Metallica songs that always put me in that happy place.

i have sketch of a tattoo inspired by the song. i have yet to get it because the person who regularly does my tattoos has been planning to custom make a piece for me.

‘Whiplash’ was a song i attempted practicing over the course of a few months, and was never able to get through it. What can i say? i’m a basic drummer. This was the first time i actually got through the whole song, and it was rough. My arms were killing me. i realize i didn’t always hit the crash on the ‘correct’ beat (and i know i messed up a couple of times), but look… i just tried to get through the song without falling over!

i’m already a pretty harsh critic of myself, but i have to say… the fact that i got through this song is an accomplishment. i usually can’t tell, but i actually realized as a result of finishing this song that my drumming, while not perfect (or on the level of my favorite drummers), is actually getting better.

‘Whiplash’ has one of my top 3 favorite riffs on Kill ‘Em All– the final one, with the 16th note ‘disco’ drums… i told y’all i was in love with the 16th note stuff in punk and metal. i love that they extend it during live shows. i also love the period when they did a tease of ‘Frayed Ends Of Sanity’ and ‘Wasting My Hate’ at the end of shows as well.

i game my arms a little break and kept it ‘back to (the very) basics’ for ‘Halo On Fire’, which is in my view, an extremely slept on song- the band only performed the song 90 times live. The song is one of their most cinematic, and in many ways, sorrowful.

Before the album version of the song i added a version of the intro they did during live performances, and added some keys there. That one was from 2018, in Stuttgart, Germany.

i know people like to clown Metallica for a variety of reasons, but if you actually sit and listen to their music, there’s something about it that is transcendent. There’s a reason they’ve been around for 40 years, and still going.


One of my favorite record labels coming up as a punk kid was SST, founded by Greg Ginn in 1978 (i definitely have my criticisms for Ginn, but one thing that is definitely a positive is that he loves cats). From Bad Brains (the greatest punk/hardcore band of all time), fIREHOSE, Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., Saccharine Trust, Negativeland, Screaming Trees, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden to so much more; the label had a variety of sounds, from straight up hardcore punk and reggae, to jazz-inspired and ‘avant garde’ rock, to country.

For this post i figured i would pay tribute to the label who inspired many a kid like me, and who sprouted more than a few bands who ended up being loved by many.

i’m gonna start with The Minutemen, one of my favorite bands of all time. i suppose you could technically file them under ‘punk’, but they were so much more than that. Like many other great bands they were heavily influenced by jazz, funk, ‘classic rock’ and a range of other styles. Mike Watt is one of the greatest bassists of all time (and happens to be criminally underrated), and ‘Joe McCarthy’s Ghost’ (the song i play here) is seen by appreciators of the band to be one of his greatest bass lines.

The Minutemen’s catalog is full of love songs to the people’s class, heavily and consistently critiquing capitalism, neoliberalism, fascism, and imperialism- so it’s a given as to why they are one of my favorite bands. The band ended upon the physical death of D. Boon (due to a car accident) in 1985.

i am not as good of a musician as George Hurley (drums), D. Boon (guitar/vocals) or Mike Watt (bass/vocals), but i hope this updated ‘2022’ remix/rework of ‘Joe McCarthy’s Ghost’ is respectful to the legacy of The Minutemen.

One of my favorite albums ever released on the SST label is the Meat Puppets’ Up On The Sun. They are one of those bands who, like many metal and punk bands, started out a bit more ‘noise/hardcore’ oriented, then by the next album started adding elements of the things they would be more known for (think Kill ‘Em All to Ride The Lightning). You definitely hear early on what they would come to be; however, in general, the first (self-titled) album (or their EP In A Car) sounds fairly different from the second album, Meat Puppets II, and NOTHING like the third album, Up On The Sun. If you know me well enough, you know i love me some early Meat Puppets. That said, i am a sucker for some wonderful melodies. From Up On The Sun on, that’s what they did.

i may actually post some more Meat Puppets stuff at some point; as for now, here’s me playing drums to ‘Seal Whales’, a pretty chill instrumental.

(The photo at the beginning, while beautiful, is not real. It’s a digital creation by Elena Vizerskaya. Fur seals are in the southern part of the world, and Beluga whales are in the north. Also… sadly, seals and whales aren’t exactly friends. To me, seals and whales are both beautiful.)

The first piece of vinyl i ever purchased (at the age of 15) was catalog no. SST 003- Black Flag’s Jealous Again, the six and a half-minute ep. The rest is history.

Here, i play to one of the songs from that ep (where Ron Reyes was on vocals), ‘Revenge’, as well as ‘Police Story’ from the Henry Rollins-era Damaged album.

Robo (que tocó la batería en esos dos discos) es uno de los mejores bateristas del hardcore/punk.

Now we have another great SST release (017 to be exact), Kill From The Heart by Austin, Texas’ own The Dicks. Staunchly anticapitalist/antiracist/antifascist and pro-LGBTQ+ (Gary Floyd had no problem battling anyone who opposed his existence as a gay man), The Dicks had the kind of energy i wish bands still had. They understood that where you stood mattered, because, even though people love to claim punk and metal is for outsiders, regardless of ethnicity, orientation, etc.; the fact that Floyd had to fight people at shows proves this is not always the case. The fact that folks who are not European still get told they don’t belong in these scenes prove this is not the case. The fact that people who aren’t dudes are more scrutinized for playing ‘heavy’ music shows this isn’t always the case.

As a person who fills out some of the checks on this list, it’s important for me to know what position a band takes on particular issues.

Also, The Dicks had no problem being associated with the sickle and hammer, in one way or another (just as The Minutemen wrote a song literally called ‘Sickles And Hammers’).

Word. Also, The Dicks have a love song to Marilyn Buck. Therefore i love The Dicks.

From Kill From The Heart we bring you ‘Anti-Klan’ (pt. 1), and ‘No Nazi’s Friend’. Something tells me that David Yow (of the Jesus Lizard) was massively inspired by Gary Floyd.

And finally, we have a different kind of SST- a little nod to ‘Sade’s Sweetest Taboo’ (or Sea Surface Temperature?), by Prince Rogers Nelson.

i am gonna be honest. When i first saw the cover of SST years ago, the punk kid in me was scratching my head. ‘Is Prince gonna do some punk? Look out now!!!’ But no… the song is in regards to the devastation that occurred after Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 (interestingly, that was Michael Jackson’s 47th solar return). The song is part gospel, part social commentary; not uncommon in Prince’s 35+ album catalog. ‘S.S.T.’ was released specifically to raise money to help those reeling from the disaster. All proceeds went to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund.

i was messing around, and felt the song sounded pretty good in half-time, so that’s what i did here.

So Much Music In The World…

People keep telling me that i know a whole lot about music, based on the variety of the music i like. Also, based on the time i did radio for 11 years i was able to host many of the other shows, from punk to house to hip hop to gospel, at the station. The truth is though, there’s way too much music out there for anyone to really know that much about it. There’s whole worlds, past and present, i have yet to see.

What i usually post here is merely an incredibly small section of music i listen to, and of course its minuscule compared to what i don’t know.

i also think about how people tend to listen to and experience music a little differently these days. A pretty significant percentage of people who consume and/or listen to music tend to do it digitally, so they may not interact with the music in the same way if it were a piece of vinyl, or even a cassette or compact disc. i’m not sure of how many people look at an album’s credits on their streaming services.

i know people listen to music in different ways in this day and age, but do people actually even experience music anymore? This is not a sarcastic or anger-ridden question; i sincerely want to know. Do people say, ‘Give me something that’s not hard or cold’?

Because that’s what Yoko said.

i know people make fun of/create memes out of Yoko Ono and still blame her for the breakup of the Beatles (despite counters from the actual band on that issue); however, she actually has some pretty cool music out there. Approximately Infinite Universe is actually a pretty good album. i also remember seeing her host a film exhibition years ago at (i think) the Whitney Museum, and i love how people were trying to impress her by name dropping, and she wasn’t having it.

‘Give me Something’ (from the Double Fantasy album with John Lennon) is a song i always liked too. When i first heard it i thought it sounded like Siouxsie And The Banshees. Given that i only have one foot, i can’t open and close the high hat. So to create that ‘effect’, i just combined the ride and high hat. Not as effective as the real thing, but it does the trick.

For this entry i combined some Detroit (MI) and Venice (CA) punk, with Negative Approach and Suicidal Tendencies, respectively. Both bands were pivotal in the early midwest and west coast hardcore scenes. NA’s ‘Pressure’ (from the Negative Approach 7″) is one of the shortest songs of all time (not beating Napalm Death’s ‘You Suffer’ though). ‘Memories Of Tomorrow’ and ‘Fascist Pig’ (from ST’s (self-titled) first album) are also fairly short, so i combined all three.

There’s nothing like some good ‘ol classic hardcore…

…And there’s nothing like some good post punk/funk.

This next song, ‘It’s Not Me’ (from the Step Off album) by ESG, actually had only bass and vocals. i decided to keep Renee Scroggins’ vocals, play the bass and add drums. It’s an entirely different song. i also have a fascination with ‘unrequited’ love songs and films. This song is from the perspective of the recipient of the love. Who hasn’t heard the words of that song themselves? Rejection is very painful, but it can also be seen as a lesson.

We end the post on an interesting note- literally. No, really. Listen until the end of the song.

‘The Ballad Of T.V. Violence (I’m Not The Only Boy)’ is the final track off of Cheap Trick’s first (also self-titled) album. (note: It’s technically not the final track (as it’s the last side on side A), but i always listen to the sides in opposite order. So it’s the final track to me. The sides of some pressings read as ‘side A’ and ‘side 1’, soooooo…).

Originally the song’s lyrics were specifically about serial killer Richard Speck, until the record label (Epic) requested they tone it down. The original lyrics must have been stress-inducing, because the reworked lyrics aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows. Many people probably think of the band as ‘arena rock’ or maybe even just ‘pop rock’. That said, they do have songs that are more harder leaning.

Metallica Fridays (no. 11): Bringing Back Some Memories…

i am not always a fan of reverb in music- unlike many, i actually enjoy the ‘drier’ sound of say, a Death Magnetic (no, i’m not even discussing the ‘loudness wars’ situation) or an …And Justice for All. Ride the Lightning was a massive recipient of the reverb, as was Master Of Puppets, to a slightly lesser degree. Hardwired… To Self Destruct to me was that perfect balance of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.

That said… i did a little bit of experimentation. i went ahead and added reverb to the drums, because the dryness of electrodrums obviously doesn’t fit every song. Everything is dialectical, and despite everything i said coming into this post, reverb does have its benefits.

The more i play these songs on the drums though, the more appreciation i have for Lars. The more i play this music, regardless of the instrument, i have more appreciation for the band. Taking in the music as a listener is one thing. Taking it all in as a person who plays music is another. And taking it in as a writer is a whole other level. It amazes me that these dudes were in their early 20s, writing on a level both complex and melodic.

‘Disposable Heroes’ (my favorite song on Master Of Puppets) is one hundred seventy-eight (178) beats per minute. Looking it up i saw a range of BPMs, but in actually using a metronome for the song, 178 came the closest… at least during the pre-chorus. Imagine seeing this for the first time live, like many did in 1985 at the Metal Hammer Festival (to me, one of their top two greatest shows of all time). It’s always exciting to see them do songs yet to be officially released, or works in process, like ‘Vulturous’, ‘Death Is Not The End,’ ‘Lords Of Summer,’ the songs of Beyond Magnetic or this song, prior to its release on Puppets the next year.

The song succinctly captures the dehumanization of those who are used as pawns in an imperialist war. It’s an incredibly haunting song with two perspectives: the exploiter and the exploited. i understood what the song was about as a teenager carrying this cassette around, listening to Puppets on repeat. However, i was a punk kid who loved the thrashiness of the song, and it wasn’t until i was much older before i truly took in the IMPACT of the song.

(No, i did not play the drums note for note- don’t come for me please…)

My greatest memory of ‘Escape’ is sitting around with 14 or 15 other people in a small room (after seeing Metallica on December 3, 1991 at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium), and listening to Ride The Lightning in full, pontificating on how Metallica was the greatest band in the world. i remember people in the room were going on about how Lightning was their greatest album, and i may have been one of the few who said Puppets was. It makes me laugh now, because i do wonder how many of the diehards still rock with the band today, or did they fall off after Load/ReLoad… or St. Anger?

‘Escape’ is one of two songs (as far as i know- the other being ‘Hero Of The Day’) that is written primarily in major key. For some reason, James Hetfield hates the song, and while they jammed on it briefly a few times (and jokingly played the intro) they only performed it in full once (at the Orion Music + More Festival in 2012).

It’s not as ‘deep’ as other songs on the album, but it’s still a good song.

Yo… In playing to ‘The God That Failed’, it led me to remember that when this album came out, this was my jam, for real. It was the song that got stuck in my head, before any other song on The Black Album. That bass intro, with that 4 on the floor beat, went HARD. It’s a straight head nodder. It was probably the one song that actually made me a fan of the album.

i also remembered that, despite Hugo Burnham, David Lovering, etc. being major drumming inspirations for me, it was THIS song that subconsciously influenced my playing as well, in my formative years as a drummer. Lars’ fills are dope on this song, and i realize that i used to also kind of play like this.

Even though ‘Fade To Black’ is technically the first ‘personal’ song (and ‘Dyers Eve’ is the first where you see the exploration of the broken relationship between parent and child), ‘The God That Failed’ is one of a couple on The Black Album that begin to explore the subject a bit deeper.

One Of These Things…

There’s so much music in the world, that it amazes me how people can only listen to one type or genre. Being a punk kid (and something that obviously influences my playing), i also know that if i only listened to that i would get bored.

And bored is not a word i particularly utilize in my vocabulary.

This is not to say that someone who only (or i should say predominately) listens to one type of music is a horrible person, or has bad taste. i’m just saying it’s something i don’t understand, especially when your favorite band most likely listens to a diverse range of music themselves.

In terms of my playing, as you have seen, i am pretty basic. So there is no way i would attempt to play to, say, a Billy Cobham song, without it totally sounding like a giant wreck. And he happens to be one of my favorite drummers of all time. So i do stick to stuff that’s a bit more doable for me. And even then, the drummers in the bands i cover are far more advanced than me.

i’m not saying any of this to complain… i’m saying this as a reminder that IT’S JUST A JOURNEY.

Sooooooooo… The first post we have today would be a musical reminder of this, from my favorite punk/hardcore band of all time, Bad Brains. i gotta remember to have that ‘Attitude’… that PMA, when i’m struggling to get better in this journey. i am DEFINITELY no Earl Hudson, but i hope i at least did okay. Playing music is a healthy outlet, in response to whatever trauma i’ve faced.

(i know that a lot of people understandably felt an immense amount of sadness upon hearing about Taylor Hawkins’ passing; i do know that if anything were to happen to H.R., i will be inconsolable. i just want to put that out there.)

The next song is one of those underrated proto-punk/garage rock inspired gems, ‘Social End Product’, by New Zealand-based The Bluestars. Of course, this song goes after my heart, with the line, “I don’t stand for the Queen/In a house where those traditions mean”. In a time when the Royal Family was currently doing apology tours in the Caribbean for colonialism (without actually addressing the rectification of its effects), these fellows in 1966 knew what was up. Of course the Sex Pistols, The Queen Haters and many others followed suit in their derision for the monarchy (as well as the neoliberalist policies and actions of Margaret Thatcher). But the Bluestars walked so all of them could run.

“I’ve been labeled as an angry young man
Because I don’t fit into the master plan
Under society’s microscope
I look funny but it’s no joke…”

We have another song from another one of my favorite ever punk bands, Bad Religion (i may actually do a dedicated post for them, who knows?). ‘All Good Soldiers’ is one of those songs i don’t hear a lot of people talk about. But it’s definitely up there as one of my favorites. i’m not an atheist, nor am i an agnostic (and i know that members of the band have mixed belief systems themselves); however, this song (as are many of theirs) is accurate.

This final post, you may be asking yourself ‘Why ever would you post this, in the midst of a bunch of punk songs?’ And to that i say, why not? Also… i would say, go back to the beginning of this post.

‘Somethin’ Deep’ is one of my favorite ever songs from Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan is also a drummer. She comes from a time when people were a lot less accepting of women drummers than they are now. Also, it was nice to just play a simple ‘pocket’ song.

Also… One of these things…

You finish it. Except know that it DOES belong.

Metallica Fridays (no. 10): Letting Go, And Getting Reacquainted…

Before we get into things, i just wanted to say that i reconnected with the folks i was in my first band with (you can hear one of our songs in the first ever post i made). It was a very nice surprise. It was over 20 years since we all spoke. Apparently, they found me through this site.

So whoever is sharing this site with others, i appreciate you.

Now, i’m going to say something else you all probably know (especially since i make these posts every Friday), but in figuring out what songs to do this week i kept thinking, ‘Metallica is so good.’ i know they are ‘technically’ a metal band; however, the musical and lyrical content are shaped in ways that are relatable to many.

The songs i chose this week, i think fit that description.

i realized that i covered songs from every album (not including EPs, collaborations, live or covers albums) for these posts… except for Hardwired… To Self Destruct. It’s strange that i have already covered every album (because it doesn’t seem that way), and it’s strange that i haven’t done anything from Hardwired (because i love that album, as i love them all). i figured that ‘Moth Into Flame’ would be a good first song. It’s one of a handful of songs that discuss the ‘dangers of celebrity culture/fame.’ James Hetfield spoke in interviews how the lyrics were inspired by seeing Amy Winehouse.

It’s not a life i wish onto anybody.

It’s a pretty sad song, if you really think about it.

Onto more sad songs… A lot of people dub St. Anger as the band’s ‘therapy’ album; however, i maintain that Load (my favorite Metallica album) and ReLoad (my 4th favorite of theirs) walked so St. Anger could run. So many of those songs are tales of self-reflection, addiction, regret and so many other struggles.

‘Low Man’s Lyric’ has been interpreted as being about so many things, but that’s (again) what makes the music of Metallica so effective. i was thinking about how i could ‘reinterpret’ the song… Firstly, i don’t have a hurdy gurdy (the one thing which drives the main musical theme of the song). Secondly, i’m not the greatest musician. Third, i don’t have the equipment to do a ton of layering in the way the song deserves.

i asked myself how i could translate the pain of the song into something on the keyboard. i hope i did alright. Everything (except vocals and drums) is me.

‘Mama Said’ is my 4th favorite Metallica song of all time. Again, i was wondering how i would do justice to such a great song. This one was incredibly hard to do though (especially since i’m not the greatest singer or musician)- this is one of those songs that make me cry. i did have a bit of a chuckle though, listening to Lars’ drumming. His drumming is unmistakable, and this was also during the ‘Bob Rock’ period, so the sound was pretty massive.

This song means a lot to me though, and i did get a tattoo (on my palms) inspired by it):

The tattoo has long since faded. But what’s left of it still a reminder to let go, and be still. In order to grow, you must let go. You have to be able to take the things you learned in life, and not be paralyzed by the heartbreak of ‘what could have been.’ You have to be able to stop wanting love from those who don’t have the capacity to give it.

Let go, and be still.

Everything here is me: vocals and keys.