Metallica Fridays (no. 15): Letter To Lars?

So much has happened since the last post: i finally received a vinyl copy of Kirk’s excellent Portals EP, as well as restringing Jerome with some new Hetfield strings. They are some heavy gauged strings (11, 14, 18p, 28, 38 and 50)!!! The average gauges on the lightest strings are 9s or 10s, and the heaviest ones on average tend to be 46s. I did some restringing and a bit of playing before i went to rehab, and they didn’t seem that bad; perhaps it’s because i play a lot of bass? When i play around a bit more, i may be telling a different story… One thing i can say is that they sounded nice and crisp. i love that new string sound. Also being used to lighter strings, when i went to tune Jerome, i found out i ended up initially tuning way too sharp. These strings are hardcore.

But alas, we are here again with another ‘Metallica Fridays’ post. And there is always a song (or two or three) that speak to me enough for me to highlight it.

And as usual, i gotta pay respects to Lars. You can find me talking about him all throughout these posts, so i won’t go too far into it here. i will keep saying though: For anyone to sit and listen… i mean actually sit and listen, and say that Lars is a bad drummer, i will never understand. i am learning these songs in a whole different way as a player, versus the act of passively listening. If this band were to have ever, in any point in time, gotten a more technical drummer, it would be a whole different band. This actually happened in 2004 (at the Download Festival (aka Donnington), when Lars was briefly hospitalized. In his place were Dave Lombardo (one of the greatest drummers of all time), Joey Jordinson (who i was not that familiar with, but the little i saw of him, i saw that he was an excellent drummer), and Lars’ drum tech, Flemming Larsen. It was amazing to hear them play with Metallica at extremely short notice. They knew their stuff- and i love that Lombardo was about to play the bridge (album version) of ‘Battery’! However, the vibe was entirely different. it wasn’t bad… it was just missing… Lars.

i keep thinking about how Lars sees different rhythms in his brain, from whatever riffs Rob, Kirk and James present. People ask how he’s credited with writing songs, despite him not writing the riffs. The dude has a major hand in arranging where those riffs go, so a songwriting credit is absolutely proper. i wonder how many of his fills are experimentation during the recording process, versus actual construction. i always wonder why he chooses to hit the crash at a specific place you would never think to put it.

For example, the opening cymbal hits in ‘Hell And Back’ (from the great Beyond Magnetic). The opening hits seem so counterintuitive in a way. But they work. They totally work.

i absolutely love this song. They only played it 16 times, during May, June and August of 2012. While (again) it’s always stated that Metallica lyrics can be interpreted in various ways (with very clear exceptions), ‘Hell And Back’ to me is a very clear reading of someone experiencing addiction. You understand the negative implications of the addiction (or dependency); however, the familiarity is comforting, and… dependable. Be it food, sex, alcohol, narcotics… the struggle is real.

i will say though, when i first heard the song i thought James was singing “she’s rachet but she comforts me…” as opposed to wretched. i was like, ‘whatchoo know about rachet, Papa Het??!!’

If they pulled this one out at the 40th i would have screamed. Interestingly (and sadly), they did NO songs from Beyond Magnetic at the 40th.

…And we return to the source. The first Metallica song i ever learned/played on the drums.

‘Blackened’. Why would this be the FIRST song to learn… one of the most difficult in terms of timing, for a person who hadn’t regularly played the drums in over 20 years, and never previously played a Metallica song? Because it’s my favorite song of theirs.

This time though, it’s a live version… the infamous ‘Seattle ’89’ version. i would always try to play it and could never get it (because it was so much faster than the album version, and of course there’s no click track so the timing isn’t straight). It’s also a song i haven’t played in a couple of months i think, so i always want to return to it, because it’s ultimately a barometer for how i am doing in terms of my progress. i still mess up in a spot or two, but it’s WAY better than it was even a couple of months ago. So there’s that.

And now…

i will continue to admit i was wrong, when it comes to Some Kind Of Monster, the 2004 documentary charting not only the recording process of St. Anger, but the band’s struggle to just hold it together. i had no idea what to expect when i saw it in the theater back then, but i absolutely hated it. Like many (who loved and/or appreciated the band at the time) i couldn’t understand why a bunch of dudes in a band would sit and film themselves arguing. i was 27 or 28 years old then. Of course, 18 years later (and having lived a much more eventful life) i understood exactly why they did it, and i’ve come to appreciate the film for the brilliance it is. it’s become one of my favorite films of all time.

i was going back, listening to older episodes of Metal Up Your Podcast (the great podcast that extensively discusses Metallica), and they were discussing the root of the experiences had in the film- (bassist) Jason Newsted’s departure. i then felt inspired to recreate one of my favorite scenes in the film. i know that people tend to look at it as a meme; however, i see it as an examination of a mental downward spiral. Music (and being in a band) was such a crutch for these individuals that they seemingly never really built a relationship outside of that.

The film showed how important therapy actually is.

People were saying that Lars was pretending to be upset by Jason’s departure. i saw it as disbelief. He seemed on the verge of tears- which is how i kind played the scene. To me, Lars’ face was saying one thing, but his voice was saying another.

i acted out the scene, sent it to a few people then realized it needed some music. i kept listening to the words, and played drums around that. Then played guitar and bass around the drums. i wanted the music to capture some level of that downward spiral. After that was done i wanted to see what it was like if the words were said in anger, as opposed to shock or disbelief. With that, i ended up filming another scene, then made a side by side video. It’s interesting to see the two emotions together.

Jason was the bird who could not be caged, and he was ultimately right in leaving. i consider him to be a major teacher for the band, because he was a catalyst for them to do some major self-criticism. That said, i really did want to give Lars a hug in that scene. Jason was correct in leaving, but you could see that Lars was truly hurt by it.

i love that they are all on amicable terms now.

(This song is dedicated to Clint and Ethan, the hosts of Metal Up Your Podcast.)

And herein lies my 50th letter of appreciation to Lars. Thanks for so many classic moments, duder.

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.)


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.


Let me tell you something… If someone tells you that Ramones music is easy to play, they are lying. The simplest-appearing things are the most deceiving. All those downstrokes (though easier on bass than guitar) are hard on the wrist, and the constant fast 16th notes on the drums are an arm workout. i was pretty much just doing power chords too (i didn’t focus on the barre chords, so don’t beat me up too much!)

i got into a whole bunch of bands at the same time. i saw no problem being into both (the) Ramones and Metallica, and also groups like De La Soul. The first person to introduce me to (the) Ramones was the dude named Anthony. While my sister hung out with the popular kids in high school, i hung out with mostly the misfits, punks and metalheads. Anthony was the biggest Ramones fan i knew at the time. He was absolutely obsessed with them. i think he played drums and went to band class.

i ended up getting their albums on cassette and bringing them to school, when people asked me if Howard Stern was in a band (If you don’t know what Howard Stern OR Joey Ramone look like, go look them up now, then come back to this). Interestingly (or not) (the) Ramones were a massive staple on Stern’s show throughout the 80s and 90s. So yeah, while i KNEW of them, saw them on the tv and movies and even heard their music over the years, i never was FAMILIAR with them until i met Anthony.

So thanks guy, wherever you are.


(The) Ramones are a strange one. They absolutely (very publicly) hated each other. They were famous, on major labels and sold out stadiums, yet remained underground at the same time. They were on total opposite ends of the political spectrum.

22 years may not seem like a long time in comparison to other bands celebrating their 30th and 40th years together… But that’s a long time for a band like (the) Ramones.

(i’ve met two out of four of the OG Ramones- Joey and Dee Dee. Interesting times…)

My favorite Ramones song of all time is ‘I Don’t Want You’. i know people tend to gravitate towards the faster, classic, ‘edgier’ songs, but the Joey-leaning (and penned) songs are among my favorites. The bridge always breaks my heart: “I want you, I want you to stay/But I guess it just can’t be that way…”

i am doing everything here: guitar, bass, drums and ‘attempted vocals’ (shout out to a Mr. Kirk Hammett).

My other favorite song of theirs is ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’. This version posted here was recorded either 2014 or 2015. i think when i recorded it, i think i remember the mics being hot, and i totally forgot to check.

‘Chasing The Night’ is another Joey penned song (along with Dee Dee and funk/rock bassist Busta Jones). This is another one of those ‘deep cuts’ that tends to get skipped over. There’s a version floating around where drummer Richie sings; however, i’m drumming to the album version.

One of my favorite things about (the) Ramones is that the bass tends to be higher in the mix- especially in the earlier recordings. You started hearing less of that, from Road To Ruin (perhaps my favorite Ramones album, and also the inspiration for my favorite punk/hardcore band, Bad Brains) on. In many guitar-centered bands, the bass is usually buried. Whenever i record i do my best to mix things as evenly as possible, so nothing is prominent over another thing. That said, ‘Go Mental’ has a bass line that needs to stand out. So it is a little higher in the mix here, than it is on the album. Their lyrics are much darker than a cursory listen lets on.

i’m just playing bass here.

Leave Home is probably my second favorite Ramones album, and i wanted to open the final song with a little ‘easter egg’ before we got into the actual song, ‘Chain Saw’! i DID NOT attempt vocals in this one, so you got the original here. i did however, play drums, guitar and bass.

i am no Joey, Tommy, Dee Dee, Marky, Richie, CJ, Johnny (or Clem Burke). But i hope you enjoy!

(This one’s dedicated to Derek, the biggest Ramones fan i currently know.)

Going Back, Yet Moving Forward…

Despite being half a century in a few years (which is weird to say) and experiencing massive things as an adult, i’ve done my best to live life as simply as possible. i’ve never really been that interested in all those things you’re expected to be into at my age- the long career where you begin to identify with your job, ‘investing’ in a house, the so-called ‘2.5 kids and a dog’… i actually quite like being an adult, and have no desire to relive my youth. i just don’t support the societal expectation and limitation that adulthood entails.

There are definitely things from my childhood that make me smile when i think about them though.

i saw Rainbow Brite And The Star Stealer in the theater when it came out. It was released just after i turned 9. i honestly don’t remember anything about the plotline; i do, however, remember the song that played during the end credits. i do remember the film credits being similar to the end credits of the tv show- Rainbow Brite riding the horse (Starlite), with a rainbow palette constantly moving in the background. i guess i remembered wrong, because while the credits DO have a rainbow palette constantly moving, it’s the credits themselves that are rainbow.

i absolutely looooooove ‘Rainbow Brite And Me’. Yeah it’s sappy and the synth drums are bad, but i don’t even care what anyone says. i’m absolutely sure the machines behind the Rainbow Brite franchise are horrible (the Hallmarks, the Mattels, the DIC enterprise, etc.) but that song makes me cry of happiness.

And rainbows themselves are some of the most beautiful things on earth. There should be more songs about rainbows. Kermit is wrong- there’s not enough of them.

Still in the ‘land of synth drums,’ i decided to play around with another memory of my youth- The Facts Of Life. The theme was one of many co-written by Gloria Loring, Alan Thicke and Al Burton, and was sung by Loring. Like many theme songs, there’s a longer version (which i am playing to here). Again, though i watched the show a lot as a kid i don’t remember a lot of what happened. One thing i do remember was the introduction of Geri as a primary character for a while. It was really cool to see someone with cerebral palsy living their life on a popular tv program, because as i mentioned in another post, you don’t see to many folks in the disabled community as primary characters in popular culture in a way that’s not pathologized.

And heeeeeeere’s where we get out of childhood and more into teenager-ism, with Wire. Pink Flag is one of my favorite ‘post punk’ albums, and ‘It’s so obvious’ is a pretty great deep cut. i was thinking of playing it on drums, but i decided to just play it on the (still unnamed) bass.

Metallica Fridays (no. 8): ‘Take Hold Of The Chance…’

As i keep saying, Metallica for me is a very different experience as a ‘middle aged’ person who has experienced… what i guess you can call life; versus a teenage kid trying to figure it all out. Obviously, teenagers experience life as well (some more involved than others), just as there are older people who haven’t lived much at all.

i think back on my life though, and i think about the places i’ve been and the people i’ve met- realizing how much i’ve actually done in my life. Despite being heavily introverted i’ve had a desire to always see, do and learn new things, that require interacting with others. i would always go on adventures, going on long, random bicycle rides or walks to wherever the universe took me. Though it’s a scary thing to do, i mustered up the courage to talk to strangers at shows or on the train.

i’ve been called weird my whole life, up to this day. i have never let that stop me.

There are so many things i aimed to do; my plan has been to enter a triathlon (either full or half) by the age of 50 (i have 4 1/2 years to go currently). Before the accident i was training in jiu jitsu and getting better at pullups. These are still goals i have, but perhaps i’ll do that triathlon at 52 instead of 50; or i’ll get a black belt in jiu jitsu in 15 or 20 years instead of 10. For sure, i am a disabled person and i recognize my limitations; that doesn’t mean i’m incapable of living life as full as i can.

And heeeeeeere is where we have music…

Everything is dialectical. As i keep saying, one positive in regards to everything regarding this accident is that it rekindled my relationship with playing instruments. And it shifted my relationship to the meaning and experience of Metallica.

i mean… i never in my life played a Metallica song in my life on any instruments until i became an amputee, and their music is not particularly easy to play, for someone like me. i had to fight through that fear of ‘not being as good as others’ who not only are far superior musicians, but also who have played their music far more often. The first step in getting better is just doing it. If people laugh, that’s expected. But they must remember that they also started in the same position, before they got better.

Exhibit A (for me anyway): ‘My Apocalypse’. i’m a person that picks the smallest thing apart sometimes, and there were sooooooooo many imperfections here. My hands were also sweaty (more than usual), but i decided to post this anyway.

Exhibit A (and 1/2- to my primary point): ‘Motorbreath’.

i’ve heard this song countless times, but it wasn’t until i decided to do it for this post where it actually hit me.

On the surface, it’s most likely a love letter (one out of many) to Motörhead. The premise is… fast living. But an astute (young) person once wrote this lyric that truly resonated with me- Those people who tell you not to take chances/They are all missing on what life’s about/You only live once so take hold of the chance/Don’t end up like others, same song and dance’.

i decided to take a major chance and put myself out there, despite not being the greatest of a musician. If i’m forever going to stay worried about all the mistakes i make in this journey, i’m never going to live.

Thanks Mr. Hetfield. And Mr. Tanner.

The One-Bumblebee Band…

It feels really good to be reunited with the drums… The thing is though, not having the drums gave me more space to give love to the other instruments. So of course i became inspired, and said, ‘Lemme just do some full songs.’ i am just a punk kid, and am not at the point of virtuosity (which you can see if you’ve been paying attention to these posts- HA!)

i felt inspired, and got the guitar, bass AND drums out to do some D.C. hardcore (or harDCore). i wore out the Flex Your Head compilation (blurry cover vinyl edition), and there were a couple of songs i felt would be really fun to play. i don’t have the crunch of the early D.C. bands (interestingly, i sound like i’m playing Cali skate punk, with an east coast accent- the best of both punk worlds, i guess).

i don’t drink alcohol or do any type of drugs- i don’t even take so much as an asprin, nor do i do caffeine…. except for the time i laid there in the hospital for two months in an immense amount of pain, and i had to take a gang of painkillers and muscle relaxants. i don’t wish the feeling of morphine, dilaudid (or any narcotics) on anybody. i was so out of it, and had intense nightmares a few times. Also, i couldn’t go to the bathroom.

As i said, i wish that on no one. i was extremely fortunate to not have developed a dependency or addiction. i ran out of the prescription, and never reordered, because i didn’t need to. i am saying all of this to say that for all intents and purposes, i would be considered ‘straight edge’, save the time in the hospital (and i’m sure some reactionaries out there would call me a traitor for even using drugs in the hospital. Whoever thinks that way, good luck with having survived a massive traumatic accident and a limb amputation with no meds). i don’t call myself straight edge, and despite being drug and alcohol free i don’t judge others for partaking.

i love me some straight edge punk though. i mean, ‘Master Of Puppets’ is one of the greatest straight edge-themed metal songs of all time (despite it being written and performed by a band who were alternately called Alcoholica). i was once in a band in the 90s where we were all ‘straight edge’. And of course, even though there were prior songs and artists which eschewed the drug-addled life, there was the (reluctant) foreparent of straight edge hardcore, Minor Threat. Flex Your Head featured other straight edge bands like Government issue and SOA.

One of those songs is ‘Waste Of Time’ by Youth Brigade. As i said, i don’t judge people for partaking, but yo, i love this song. Always have. It definitely was not a waste to do this song. All the instruments got some love- Jerome (the guitar) and his bass and drum siblings.

Help me to name them.

Another song from the compilation i did was ‘Nic Fit’ by The Untouchables. i love the song but i honestly have little idea what Alec MacKaye is singing (save a few words)- so i took what (i guess) were some lyrics from the Sonic Youth cover, and made up a few of my own. Also, i think on the OG Danny Ingram is playing on an open high hat, but i’m playing it on closed.

i actually started this one out on drums, then played everything else around it. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Crass is one of my most favoritest punk bands of all time (Bad Brains is, to this day, number one for me). They are easily in the top five. The foreparents of the anarcho-punk movement (which is some of my favoritest type of punk), they were a collective that fused art and music, challenging the capitalist ideology/ethos (and all which fall under the umbrella of it, such as patriarchy, imperialism, neoliberalism, commercial media and consumerism).

i love that (being a staunch anticapitalist myself) i don’t even necessarily agree with all of Crass’ viewpoints- they’re Anarchist and i’m a Nkrumahist-Tureist. i mean, there have been a number of Anarchist individuals and organizations who have definitely struggled with Crass on particular positions. There are many shades of particular objectives and ideologies. That said, i have no qualms with paying respects to a band who contributed to my burgeoning ideological development as a teenager. The first person i need to thank is actually Ronald Reagan. i saw him at 10 years old and he inspired me to begin developing even then, an intense hatred for capitalism. i just didn’t have the words for it.

On the music front, one of my favorite things about Crass is Pete Wright. i absolutely love his bass playing, and sadly i don’t really hear anyone talk about him. i honestly can’t even pick a favorite, but ‘Do They Owe Us A Living’ (both versions) and ‘Darling’ (which i do here, but only the bass) are a couple off the dome.

An even bigger thing i love about Crass is that even though they were tagged with the ‘punk’ label they heavily critiqued ‘punk culture’ as being conformist and nihilistic. As someone who identifies as a punk kid (because it was punk that shaped the person i am today), i actually can’t be mad at their sentiment. Also, their primary influences were blues, jazz and various aspects of ‘counterculture’ visual art.

i hope i do his playing at least a modicum of justice. Especially since the bass kept trying to fall!

The final contribution to today’s post is another Crass song, ‘Shaved Women’. This song is interesting because it really does ask us to look dialectically and question our position on particular things. The song does refer to women in France who were seen as ‘collaborators’ to the nazis during the war. After the allied forces won, those women had their heads shaved as a form of public humiliation. Due to the band’s consistent antipatriarchy/antimisogyny messaging, it does force the listener to ask if the women were willing collaborators (for sleeping with nazis), or were they forced to do so in order to survive? Were they assaulted (or worse)? People do things every day of their lives in order to survive (such as have their labor exploited); so we are forced to ask ourselves, how ‘low’ is one willing to go just to feed our ‘screaming babies’ and ourselves? Sexual violence has historically been a major factor in war (which Crass actually did songs about). So would this situation be any different?

The other widely held interpretation is calling to question women who shave their bodies (and adhere to other patriarchal beauty standards). Are these women collaborating with the enemy? The desire to fulfill unrealistic standards (and the consumerism it entails) contributes to the “decadence” that occurs, while “people die.” The more we consume, the quicker it leads to our death.

But! If that’s all we know, do we understand the role of being a collaborator?

Questions, questions…

Crass were pretty open in stating their contradictions. They called for the listener to make up their minds about how something was interpreted. That’s not always necessarily the best thing, considering there are too many people who don’t actually listen to messages, and react to something based on a surface-level reading. However, i do understand what the band means when they say that, especially since they were pretty open about where they stood, when they were a solidly functioning collective.

i am playing Jerome, along with the yet to be named bass and drums…. along with vocals, and a couple of train samples. i’m certainly no Eve Libertine, but… i don’t have to be.

i’m just a bumblebee.

So there you have it… el uno abejorro banda musical, lejos de la colmena por el día. i hope it’s not too bad.

(This post is dedicated to Cicely, Eli and Shamole)

Metallica Fridays (no. 7): This Time… On Bass!

Look, before we even start i am going to get this out of the way. i’m sure you can tell i am NOT Clifford Lee Burton, Jason Curtis Newsted or Roberto Agustín Miguel Santiago Samuel Trujillo Veracruz.

THERE! Next post…

(But seriously though)

How do i even attempt to reach such heights as those three? Well, by not trying to BE them, and knowing my limitations, just do what i do. It’s better than feeling sad that i’m not there (yet), and not doing anything at all. i can play tiny portions of a couple of Metallica songs on guitar- and if i’m not at the level of the bassists, do you really think i’m even at a modicum of the level of Hammett or Hetfield??!!

Interestingly, a lot of people started out learning guitar to their songs. But like with the drums, that wasn’t my experience. i have begun to get over my fear that this type of thing is impossible. As i keep saying, i am a basic player. However, that doesn’t mean i can’t navigate my way around a song. i looked at it in two ways: (a. what songs would be really fun to play, and (b. what songs would be possible to do at my skill level.

If you’ve been following these posts regularly i’m sure you’re aware of one of the songs.

‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.

i definitely didn’t play the bass line note for note. i can’t read music (and i haven’t really watched any tutorials on it) so i played it how i heard the notes in my head, so listening to it over again i am chuckling a bit at how a few of the notes sound kind of off, despite actually tuning it before i played. i’m sure i’m also playing it in a much more difficult way than it could/should be played.

All you pro bassists out there, don’t be mad at me! Y’all could give me some tips though (wink). i hope Cliff won’t be too mad with me…

i don’t know about you, but watching me play the bass with a straight face for a whole four or five minute song is kinda boring. So i asked myself, ‘How can i make this fun?’

i jumped in the fire and made a little music video.

Metallica has no shortage of dope riffs, but this song has some of my favorite in their whole catalog. Every single riff in this song is so good. The solo is excellent (i know that Kirk has publicly stated dissatisfaction with the album’s solos as a whole), and i am a major fan of the 16th note ‘disco’ beat in metal and punk. The song also has one of my favorite bass lines on the album. Y’all already know i am a Load/St. Anger fanboi (and yes, Justice and Puppets are my 2nd and 3rd favorite of theirs), but you cannot deny the impact a bunch of dudes not yet 21 made on the thrash scene with Kill ‘Em All, and how far advanced they became by the time of Ride The Lightning‘s release.

Lars has claimed that the song was their attempt at ‘Run To The Hills’ (of which the intro riff is my favorite metal riff of all time)- and i only see it a little bit. They messed around a bit with the song on Garage Days, and even played live with drummer Nicko McBrain. But if that song inspired them to make them dope riffs, well okay then. i’m definitely not a fan of the original lyrics (sorrynotsorry), and the reworked lyrics are silly; the song is fun to play though, and working out a ‘music video’ was fun as well.