Metallica Fridays (no. 34): A(nother) Challenge A Day…

It has been SIX MONTHS since i last posted here, which has been interesting, since this has been a major vehicle for me to deal with a lot of my fears and anxieties. Amid this break from posting i experienced massive bouts of depression (at one point calling the 988 hotline), ended up getting covid (and was out for a month), and saw Metallica a few times (and meeting all of the members, which was all a series of surprises). i did play drums a couple of times during the break from posting, but it was just a few minutes, just to let them know i didn’t forget about them. i’ve also been writing music, but it’s mostly been recording some guitar parts from a mini Epiphone Les Paul into a phone, and banging drum ideas on a desk.

It was such a release to sit and actually play and record SOMETHING. Playing drums is definitely my ‘happy place’.

To commemorate the cessation from such a long break, i figured i would do something i always do when introducing a new chapter- play ‘Blackened’, my favorite ever Metallica song of all time. ‘Blackened’ was the first Metallica song i ever learned on drums- first on the Octopad, then on the Alesis Surge set… and now on this post, i am playing them on the TAMAs. There’s some clear things i’ve kept over the years, but it’s fascinating to see how my playing evolved on the song. Whether or not i got better at it, that’s a different discussion.

One of the things i said i would do is challenge myself on learning a Metallica riff a day on guitar, even if it’s not perfect. It actually started off good for a while- i even learned the intro to ‘One’ (my second favorite song of all time) among other songs. i ended up getting distracted by life (which included a major depression episode), so i fell off with the challenges. ‘Blackened’ was one of those songs that seemed daunting to me; even though i play guitar (more as an accent than anything, as well as writing music), i am not that good at it. i can’t do bends, trills and the like. Tabs absolutely confuse me.

The layering that happens in that beautiful intro absolutely scared me, so i would gaze with wonder at anyone else covering it. But one day a person named Ryan (who i know through the Metal Up Your Podcast circle) played it, and it greatly inspired me to challenge myself to play it, even if it’s not as great as he , or many others have played it.

Especially James Hetfield. i will never be on the level of that guy, in terms of playing. There’s so many things going on rhythmically and harmonically in Metallica songs, it’s scary for someone like me to even attempt to mangle them. That said, you never know how things are gonna go until you try, right?

i messed around on the mini Les Paul to get a feel of things, and even though it (obviously) wasn’t perfect, i was happy to say i accomplished a semblance of the intro (for someone who’s not good at guitar), despite it not having a lot of the flourishes the intro is known to have. It, at the very least, sounded relatively audible.

In introducing this new chapter to the book of the ever-evolving ‘Blackened’ journey, i figured i would also include the riff challenge as an addendum of sorts. Is it perfect? Of course not. Nothing i do will ever be. The most important thing with art is to just do it. It has been interesting to see, even with this intro, that even though everyone’s reading of it stays relatively the same, it’s clear people hear different things when they hear the song (or based on their ability); as sometimes you hear a different note in one place you don’t hear in someone else’s rendition.

The version i did, interestingly, ended up sounding similar to something The Residents might do… It actually makes me think of something akin to DEVO’s ‘Corporate Anthem’. i played the intro all on guitar (and bass, which is ironic i suppose because …Justice), but the song ended up sounding somewhat horn-like, which actually amuses me. The primary instruments were an LTD black Snakebyte (whose name is Phyllis; her brother’s name is Jerome; you can see them both in the accompanying photos to the song); a Tanglewood Blackbird acoustic, and a Squire 60s Vibe Jazz bass.

i think i might actually practice this one on the keys sometime.

jesse came to say hello to me in the middle of recording drums, and in response decided to film this greeting:

In terms of the actual song, there were a few times i messed up, as well as a few times the mic did not pick up the crash cymbal; i didn’t focus so much on fine-tuning any technical aspects so much here- i was just so incredibly happy to be sitting in front of the drums and playing them. ‘Blackened’ was the musical starting point for me in being inspired to do these Fridays posts; hopefully, the way i play it, and drums in general, will evolve, and get better.

Metallica Fridays (no. 33): Meeting My Fears (no. 8,375)

i once had a tattoo on my left leg that said ‘no fear’, surrounded by balloons.

About 19 years ago i was riding my bicycle (of course), and i had my neck cut by some kite string with balloons attached to it. If you’ve heard any of the stories that came out within the past year about people being injured (or worse) by random kite strings, then you know that kite string is no joke. i am grateful to have survived. As a result, i developed a fear of balloons.

i wanted to lose this fear, and the tattoo was a reminder of encouraging me to do so. As a result of my legs being messed up from being hit by a truck (which i am extremely grateful to have survived as well) i lost this tattoo. Coincidentally (or not) i began developing a whole other heap of fears. While it may be true that fear is simply representative of False Evidence Appearing Real; but suddenly becoming an amputee will probably do that to you on some level.

So now i have to start over and find my voice again.

As i’ve mentioned various times, Metallica has been a major soundtrack in this journey of starting over. The context of their music is quite different now, as a nearing 50 disabled adult whose life experience has now shifted, versus a young kid who was much more mobile with two legs. While my brain struggles to process various things (due to the accident i suppose), my brain is still functioning with dozens and dozens of thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s frustrating that i can’t get them all out. i usually have something nearby where i can record my ideas (whether it’s paper or a recording device)- and a lot of times those ideas happen when i don’t have access to something, like i’m in the bathroom/shower, or if i’m in bed and don’t feel like getting up to get said things to record on.


This 72 Seasons album has been incredibly helpful in terms of helping me access some of this creativity. It’s also been helpful in acknowledging that i still have a few fears i was unaware were still around.

This may be a pretty common fear- and it may sound strange to some folks that it’s one i have, given the amount of things i do on here- but one of the fears i do have is a fear of truly accessing my own creativity. i am not a great musician or singer, and i don’t particularly like the sound of my own voice; however, i love creating, so i do it. Creating is a means of survival. i create, but i’m always seeing something in it that makes me recoil, like i played a note weird, or that i’m not good enough.

And suddenly, the universe brings a wonderful song to us called ‘Room Of Mirrors’, the penultimate track on 72 Seasons. To me, ‘Room Of Mirrors’ works similar to ‘Purify’ (the penultimate track on the wonderful St. Anger), in that they both describe the process of truly opening yourself to be vulnerable to others, and breaking down every cell, every atom. To truly open yourself to others is one of the most difficult things to do. Even the most encouraging words sometimes sound like a criticism, either due to painful experiences that have shaped your life, or the voices inside your head telling you ‘no’.

In a mirrored room
Talking to myself
And the voices pushing back
I’ll let them inside my heart
But they’ll tear it all apart

In a mirrored room
Just a simple man
Naked, broken, beat, and scarred
What do I really know?
That fear of letting go

Letting go is scary. Your thoughts are going 250 miles a minute, and you write and record all of these ideas when you can (to the point where it’s even difficult to remember where you put them). You are blanketed by all of these ideas, but to actually put them out into the world is taking that blanket off, leaving you cold. But you need to get up and jog through the forest of your brain to keep warm.


…And so it began, where we were sitting in the theater listening to the tracks of the album, in the global premiere. There were already songs i was familiar with (due to them being released as singles previously). With the new songs, i closed my eyes for much of it, and just took in the music. Not only is every single song a lyrical deep exploration (charting some of James Hetfield’s best), but so many of the songs are dripping in rich harmony… especially a song like ‘Room Of Mirrors’. As i sat in the theater, my brain immediately went there, with both James’ vocal melodies, as well as the guitars.

Over the course of this week i was messing around on the guitar, practicing one half of the guitarmony on the bridge of ‘Room Of Mirrors’, and a cover began to develop. As i mentioned earlier, i’m not the greatest musician, so a lot of times when i cover a song i do it either from memory, or inspired from portions of the source. i can only play to my own limitations, so i’m not going to play a song similar in style to Metallica, as i’m not great at palm muting, barre chords, pinch harmonics… or even guitar in general.

The foundation of this cover was actually the vocals. After i did those, i did drums, then bass, then guitars. The original song reminded me a bit of Bad Religion (one of my favorite punk bands of all time), which may be what truly endeared me to the song (beside its wonderful lyrics). When i began developing the cover, i kind of heard a ska punk rhythm in my head, mixed with the B52s. i cannot tell you why. i also am horrible at soloing, so i didn’t even attempt to for this song. The song stays pretty much in the solid ‘pop punk’ (?) realm, i guess, with some vocal harmonies- again, which i’m not great at. But…

…i am doing my best to face my fears. i am holding that mirror up to what scares me. That said, i am a survivor of things more scary than my terrible vocals.

Metallica Fridays (no. 30): The Eternal Light Of Metallica

Monday, November 28.

i was in the middle of editing, when i decided to check my e mail. There was one which stood out, with its bright flashes of yellow. NEW SONG! NEW ALBUM! NEW TOUR!

Could it be, after much debate and speculation; amid a pandemic (which is still very present) and personal and collective losses, that an actual album has finally been realized? i stopped what i was doing, to listen to this song, which was included in said e mail. 44 seconds in, i already knew it was going to be beautiful.

What i didn’t know what how significant it would be to the journey.

“Come to the Church of Metallica. You’ll become a member and rejoice! You don’t have to direct anything at us. You can direct it at the experience that you’re having.” In an interview with the New Yorker, Kirk Hammett succinctly states the very thing i was feeling at the 40th anniversary shows, where i lifted my hands in prayer and repeatedly thanked the Most High for Metallica’s existence in my life. It felt so strange to do, but it felt extremely natural at the same time. It was the third time i’ve felt such a positively visceral reaction while attending a concert- the other two times were seeing Pharoah Sanders (where i cried rivers the moment he stepped on stage) and Kamasi Washington.

i do not, in any way, shape or form look at Metallica as God. It is clear that the Church spoken of is not about the worship of fallible beings, for they, both as individuals as well as a collective, are as fallible as any other human on the planet. However, from my perspective, there was a particular energy they were open to receiving that night, and i was just as ready.

‘Lux Æterna’, the song which was released on Monday, is the musical embodiment of the very thing i felt that night at the 40th. It is, indeed, the musical embodiment of, as Lars Ulrich says, “the whole energy of the universe.”


At this point, i think i have heard this song at least 80 times since its release. Maybe more.

To me, the song sounds like the result of a very difficult healing journey. Indeed, the song’s title is translated to ‘eternal light’ in Latin; while Metallica have been a major factor in my own healing journey as an amputee, this is the first song i’ve ever heard from the band, which expels actual light energy. The focus i have here is more spiritual than anything; however, i’ll focus on the material for a bit.

The song’s double kick pattern is reminiscent of Motörhead’s ‘Overkill’; the riff is clearly inspired by them as well. There are also references to Diamond Head (another massive influence to the band), as well as their own music. The song is clearly a nod to their first album, Kill ‘Em All, yet written with the wisdom and maturity of someone who, again, did a lot of the difficult healing work and self-reflection.

‘Lux Æterna’ still carries the same message that was audaciously stated in 1983: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause we’re Metallica”; this time, it feels more metaphysical, and more to be about the healing qualities of music itself. People have connected with this band in so many ways; decades after they are gone, their impact will still be felt in ways beyond the music.

Kill isolation
Never alone for the feelings alike
Lightning the nation
Never alive more
Than right here tonight

is light years away from

Late at night, all systems go
You’ve come to see the show
We do our best, you’re the rest
You make it real, you know

Just as

A sea of hearts beat as one, unified
All generations
Approaching thunder awaiting the light

is the realization of their evolution and inspiration, from

No life till leather
We are gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness
When our fans start screaming
It’s right well alright
When we start to rock
We never want to stop again

And the healing power of music and community is realized through the

Kindred alliance connected inside
Sonic salvation
Cast out the demons that strangle your life

While the individual experience is colored by knowing

I am taking down you know whatever is in my way

…Those things that are in the way inhibit us from being the best we can be, to ourselves, and to others.

‘Lux Æterna’ is, to me, a sibling of ‘Lords Of Summer’, an amazing song (released on the special edition of Hardwired… To Self Destruct) that also references Kill ‘Em All. It also continues the journey that ‘Hit The Lights’ and more specifically, ‘Whiplash’ began- the sentiment of the lyrics echo the slight change that’s been said in live versions for many years now: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause you’re Metallica!”

Rounding everything out, Lars says, “The fifth member of Metallica is the collective… People say, ‘What does Metallica mean to you?’ It’s just a fuckin’ . . . it’s a state of mind.” Metallica for me is more of a philosophical and spiritual experience than anything else, so again, not only do the words of the members of Metallica confirm this for me, but so does this song.

Speaking of Lars… Is the Black Album-era White Tama kit back? MY FAVORITE KIT IS BACK… minus a couple of rack toms and some hardware…?

That kit was the first thing i noticed in the accompanying video, the moment you could clearly see it.


On the upcoming album (of which ‘Lux Æterna’ is on), 72 Seasons, James Hetfield explains:

“72 seasons… The first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves. The concept that we were told ‘who we are’ by our parents. A possible pigeonholing around what kind of personality we are.”

“I think the most interesting part of this is the continued study of those core beliefs and how it affects our perception of the world today. Much of our adult experience is re-enactment or reaction to these childhood experiences. Prisoners of childhood or breaking free of those bondages we carry.”

Re-enactment or reaction.

Re-enactment or reaction. Or response. We can continue the patterns of our parents (or other adults who were there during our formative years), or reject them. To be able to acknowledge this takes a massive amount of work. It is said that ‘hurt people hurt people’, but we don’t have to. i have no idea what the rest of the album is going to sound like; while i have no doubt it will be great, i cannot say the sentiment is going to fully echo it’s first single. That said, i maintain that ‘Lux Æterna’ is the pure embodiment of love, joy and true light energy, emanating from years of (still existent) struggle, heartache and doubt.

i really do feel that Metallica was brought here to do this. No, not simply perform; but to publicly experience a particular journey, in order to come out of it, in order to see their purpose of bringing light. i really do think this is why they’ve endured as long as they have. They will always have human experiences where they make mistakes, or where they will do things i disagree with.

i am talking about something bigger than that. They are not here to be perfect. They are here to be bearers of light.


As you all know, i am an extremely basic player, and far from being that great. i don’t know all the tricks, bells and whistles, the gallops or the 16ths… While i certainly am not Robert Trujillo, the song is incredibly fun to play. i ended up pre-ordering the album, so i was able to get a link to download the song. Soon after that i began practicing it on bass. i am not playing it at all, how it’s ‘supposed’ to be played. i was actually slightly inspired by Bob Babbitt here.

After figuring out the basics, i decided to look up some bass covers of the song (of which there are many, even after three days). It amazes me how, after all these years, i still play like a guitarist, as opposed to how a bassist would play. i can’t read music; i have no idea even what notes i’m playing. i play by sound- which, i’m going to be honest, is why i would not consider myself that good of a player, or even a bassist.

Obviously, this does not stop me from having fun, or striving to be better. Given everything i’ve written in this post, i hope i haven’t disrespected the song (or the band) too much.

i am grateful to the universe for the opportunity to experience not only Metallica in my lifetime; but also the gift of their music.

Metallica Fridays (no. 27): Happy Anniversary…

Metallica were babies when they released their first two albums, Kill ‘Em All (July 25) and Ride The Lightning (July 27) respectively. And now as they’ve grown to be elders, they can look back at the much-cherished work they created and produced 39 and 38 years ago. In figuring out what to do for this post to commemorate this occasion, i realized i covered most of the songs off the albums. After this post, i will only have two songs left from KEA, and no songs left from Lightning.

i’m laughing listening to KEA though, because after 30 years of listening to that album, i didn’t notice all the dope things Cliff Burton was doing on bass until much, much later. The bass tends to be low in the mix with this band (one of the biggest critiques i have about the earlier albums), but if you listen carefully, he is doing these amazing runs and trills and counter-rhythms. There’s a reason the dude had his own song on their first album (‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth’))- one of the few times a bassist is highlighted in a metal band. You think he’s playing with the rhythm guitar, but he’s off doing something else.

‘No Remorse’ (from KEA) is a perfect example of this. You need a really good system or headphones to really hear what Cliff is doing. The intro riff one of my top 3 on that whole album; they write so many riffs they just stick them in random spots, making the song a little more interesting. Any performances they do of the song in more recent years, they take out that whole bridge, which is a part i love. The song also has the beloved (at least by me) rhythmic illusion. i can’t be the only one who counts differently when the verse riff initially comes in.

i also always have to laugh because in the final verse, Hetfield sings “We are ready to kill all comers,” but it always gets misheard as “all drummers.” i messed up a bit here, but what is life if you don’t make mistakes once in a while?

i wanted to switch it up a bit for the final song on KEA, ‘Metal Militia’. Instead of following along with the thrash original, i decided to make it swing a bit. Does that make the song less metal? Perhaps.

Or perhaps the song is now more metal. Hmmmmmmmm…

This next song, i have been avoiding. It was the final song left from Ride The Lightning, so i figured the best way to do it was to not be on camera.

As i was creating the base for ‘Fade To Black’ (which was drums), i omitted vocals so i would be able to get through the song. i played as much to the song as possible, but it was the only thing i did that relatively ‘matched’ the song. Even without the vocals you could still hear some bleedthrough (as well as my own head singing the song), so it took everything out of me not to break down. The more i worked on the song i did leave the vocals in, but i ended tuning them out just so i could, again, get through the song.

i took musical cues (obviously), but like most of these covers i do from scratch, they end up sounding not very much like the original…. because i know how to play to my limitations. i know what lane i can go in musically, while at the same time doing my best to honor the original- which is what i hope i’ve done, and continue to do.

The song (which originally was said to be about getting some instruments stolen) has taken a life (if you can say that) of its own. James Hetfield is now describing the song in recent times as being about ending one’s life; he’s also been regularly announcing that those who are struggling in whatever way are not alone, and to please find someone to speak to. The first time i can recall him speaking to not being alone was at the 40th anniversary shows in 2021. i was taken aback (and figured, as i mentioned at the time) that there were a few things he said at the shows that seemed to indicate he was going through something. When he announced this year on stage in Brazil about his mental health struggles, i figured my hunch was correct.

What he said at the 40th Anniversary show didn’t hit me until the next day, and i kept a lot of my thoughts inside until i couldn’t anymore. And i cried rivers.

As a person who has on several occasions attempted to end my life; as a person who struggles every day with depression, the song is extremely difficult for me to listen to. The lyrics speak succinctly about the very feelings i had when i’ve made attempts, and even when i’ve thought about doing it. Many days are better than others, and some days i just don’t feel like even getting out of bed. Even though i’ve learned to like myself at the age of 39 (and love myself at the age of 42), i still ask myself some days (as i am about to be 46) if it’s all worth it. i do live with survivor’s guilt (as a person who almost died but survived an accident that forever altered my body); i feel like people see me as better than i actually feel about myself, when it comes to some things. i found out ways i can manage all of these complex feelings and experiences, but none of it is easy.

One thing that really does help is playing and creating music. i really do hope anyone who reads these posts and listens understands the respect i aim and hope to give these beautiful songs that have meant so much to me.

(All instruments- drums, guitar, bass and keys are by me, except for lead solo (Hammett- one of his greatest) and vocals (Hetfield))

Metallica Fridays (but today it’s Monday) (no. 26): The Ktulu Trio

It has been some week… i was pretty wiped out from getting a booster (which will be helpful since i’m actually going to see Metallica next month- Wheeeeeeeeee); i also was pretty busy with meetings and organizing work, where i wasn’t able to get a post in. Also… My brain since the accident randomly decides to shut down, and there’s points where i don’t seem able to do things in effective ways. It’s also much more difficult to understand, for example, group chats, in the way i used to be able to. i am wondering if this is a latent effect of a concussion.

So of course, there are times when i’m playing instruments, and i will get really extreme brain farts, despite me playing the same part a minute prior. Playing music and writing have been really helpful for my brain’s activity. Thinking about all of this sometimes gives me massive depression; i am definitely grateful to the universe that i am still able to process things as much as i can, and that i didn’t suffer as much damage to my brain as i could have.

That said, we are still here, and i guess there will be two ‘Metallica Fridays’ posts this week. Given that i hadn’t done any songs from the ‘Ktulu’ series yet, i figured i’d just put them all together.

Though i am aware of the legend of Cthulhu (primarily from Metallica, as well as some friends who were fond of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft), i always avoided any writings because of the author’s massively racist history, which friends of mine who enjoyed his writings struggled with (he infamously called a cat friend of his a certain racial epithet). While his views (very) slightly shifted towards the end of his life after the nazi rise to power (as well as whatever KKK fallout occurred at that time); looking into it though, his politics were still massively problematic. In the latter part of his life (the dude died in 1937), he still held massively anti-African and anti-Jewish beliefs. In a letter to Catherine Lucille Moore (dated 1936), he still believed in the concept of “biological inferiority” and the “sub species”. i know that many people tend to separate the art from the artist, regardless of how problematic the artist is. i listen to lots of music where the artists don’t necessarily share the same ideological framework as i do… however, there is a fine line i do have, when it comes to art, and racism is one of them.

Despite the fact that Lovecraft died believing in the pseudo-science of racial superiority on some level; the songs Metallica got out of his writings are quite good, so i guess i will stick with that. Just to make this easier, we will go chronologically.

‘The Call Of Ktulu’ is the first in the series, the final song hailing from 1984’s Ride The Lightning. As usual, i had a particular idea how i wanted to do this song, and it ended up as a whole different thing. Also as usual, the drum was the skeleton for the rest of the song. The keys came next, then bass, then guitar. i play guitar, but i am in no way, shape or form a guitarist… But i won’t say i’m a bassist or keyboardist either! Am i a drummer though? That’s up to you to answer.

i didn’t listen to the song at all while crafting this cover- so while the theme is obviously similar, it has a different feel. i’ve heard the song enough times to know how it goes, heh heh… It is always interesting to create something from memory, from scratch.

(Drums, keys, guitar and bass are all by me. The intro is by nature.)

‘The Thing That Should Not Be’ (from 1986’s Master Of Puppets) is the PERFECT Lars Ulrich song, and i took advantage of that. While he certainly is notorious for doing fills all over the place, i honestly don’t think he does as many as people joke about- at least not on record. The China cymbal is another story…

i honestly love his style (as most people who read this site know), and he is a major inspiration for what i do. His style is often imitated, but never duplicated. Really, NO ONE drums like the guy. That said, ‘Thing’ is fill city, for sure (just as songs like ‘Wherever I May Roam’ are). So of course i took that opportunity to just visit and chill in fill city. and even so, i still probably didn’t do as many fills as Lars. ‘Thing’ is a great Cliff Notes (no pun intended) edition of the Cthulhu/Ktulu legend. Metallica, as i keep saying, can write dope songs in their sleep.

‘Dream No More’ (from 2016’s Hardwired… To Self Destruct) is my absolute favorite of the ‘Ktulu’ trio. It is also my 24th favorite Metallica song of all time. The song is massively slept on, and goes hard. As the album is more of a nod to their NWOBHM roots, ‘Dream’ has got a Sabbath influence all over it. The pre-chorus riff, as well as the intro/bridge/almost end riff are among my favorites in their whole catalog. i mean, this whole song is filled with excellent riffs thoughout.

If i could only write a riff this good…

Interestingly, my primary influence for drumming this song is not Lars, but Stevie Wonder.

Metallica Fridays (no. 25): Working Through Music While Experiencing ‘The Unnamed Feeling’…

A day late, i know… This week had been building up in ways that are hard to explain. People ask how you are, and you don’t know how to answer. Nothing of note is tragically horrible in your life, but you just feel a particular inexplicable way.

Then all of a sudden, it happens. As you feel things building you work to manage it in whatever way you can, and it still hits you like a ton of bricks.

i wish depression on no one. The unnamed feeling is very real.

i still wanted to make a post though, despite being in the throes of depression. Sometimes that actually helps me to feel better. In preparing for this post, parts of it certainly helped me to feel better, but honestly, parts of it didn’t. Parts of it, i cried.

This site is an exploration of all things: the improvements and the mistakes, the happy and the not-so-happy. i tend to write about these things, but i never film it.

As you may know (if you’ve been following this site), i tend to post songs that i am particularly feeling, or inspired by at the moment. ‘The House Jack Built’ has been on my mind for a while. It’s also my 12th favorite Metallica song of all time. i tend to have no problems listening to it, nor does it trigger my depression. For some reason, the song spoke to me this week in ways it hadn’t before.

Growing up with a mother who had an alcohol addiction, and struggling with addictions of my own (which were pretty close to being triggered this week), the song speaks to me in that way. However, the song spoke to me this week, as if it was reading to be about depression itself.

Open my eyes just to have them close again
Well on my way, but on my way to where I’ve been
It swallows me as it takes me in its fog
I twist away as I give this world the nod

Open my eyes just to have them closed once again
Don’t want control
As it takes me down and down and down again
Is that the moon or just a light that lights this dead-end street?
Is that you there or just another demon that I meet?

You fall into a pit you feel you can’t get out of, and sometimes you just wait and hope it goes away. You exist in the world and are functioning as a being, but there’s a whole other life lurking.

i chose to film this as i was in the deepest part of my depression at this moment. There were 50 million things going on in my head, and it was difficult to focus on even playing drums, but i did it. Any mistakes i made or anxiety i had, i just played through it all. There were a bunch of things coming up for me as i was playing, and that’s what you see on my face.

i already made songs inspired by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich (sortakinda), and i felt inspired to do a Kirk Hammett-themed song. It was a bit of a distraction from this recent episode i am experiencing.

While there were a couple of things i had in mind, as usual, what i first had in mind never ends up as the end result. i initially had a particular riff in my head, but i ended up using the drum as the base of the song, then writing the ‘lyrics’ (aka the clips) around the drums. Then i played the bass in a way which followed whatever Kirk was saying/singing. The drums were actually inspired by Lars (but what’s new?), and the bass lines were inspired by Public Image Ltd.

People who know me well enough (at least in relation to Metallica) know how much i absolutely love Kirk Hammett. Even though my first musical love was the drums (despite the guitar being the first instrument i seriously played), teenage me (and even adult me) always connected with Kirk- his shyness, his awkwardness and his passion for the things he loves. i did my best to capture those things with this song.

My favorite thing about this song though? The cats.

Because cats are the greatest beings to ever be on this earth. i love all animals (and have been a vegan for 28 years strong), but i am not ashamed to say that cats are my favorite ever people.

jamilah Plays The Hits Pt. II: Cross-Cultural Mashups

This post is a major contradiction- after saying numerous times how i feel about pop music (in general), what you are about to see are some of the most poppiest of songs. This led me to want to be clear on my relationship to pop music: if a pop song can convey great storytelling; if it can channel anything outside of the superficial; if it goes beyond lower vibrational energy… it’s most likely something i would enjoy listening to.

A great pop song can make me happy… or it can make me cry. There are a few, like ‘Home’ by Stephanie Mills (my favorite song in the whole entire world), ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ by Jennifer Holliday, ‘Love takes Time’ by Mariah Carey, and ‘Didn’t We Almost Have It All’ by Whitney Houston, that automatically bring tears the moment you hear those notes. i guess you can say, even though i’m not particularly a fan of anthemic songs, i do love big, dramatic ones. Not only are songs like these full of drama; you can also hear the tears, sadness or anguish in their vocals.

i am also a major fan of unrequited love longs… you know, when you have feelings for someone and those feelings are not returned. ‘How Am I Supposed To Live Without You’ is a perfect unrequited love song.

i spent a bit of time over the past few months searching for covers of the song, and it has been hard to find any versions that capture the heartbreak of the original. Most people stick to vocal acrobatics, taking away from the actual meaning of the song. While i definitely love a good run or two, i just don’t think they’re fitting for a song like this.

The only one who honestly does the song any justice is the original artist.

Laura Branigan sings the song very plainly, and at some points, deadpan. Michael Bolton (who co-wrote the song (with Doug James, under his birth name, Michael Bilotin)) comes fairly close, but his pleading is no comparison. Laura Branigan’s reading is one of desperation and urgency. You can hear how in the first verse, all the stuff they talk about is small talk; she wants to get all of that out of the way to ask the major questions. This person was her lifeline- all without them even knowing it.

The crux of the story is in this one line: “I don’t wanna know the price I’m gonna pay for dreaming, now that your dream has come true.” i don’t care what anyone says. This performance will always make me cry. To me, it is up there with (one of the greatest vocalists ever in the whole world) Phyllis Hyman’s performance of ‘Old Friend’.

For the post here, the bed of the song was Branigan’s version, but i combined her vocals with Michael Bolton’s, then played some drums. Like much of what we’ll see in this post, i had to do a bit of doctoring. Because the the final part of Bolton’s version has a higher key, i had to lower it to match Branigan’s original key. Also, i combined the full vinyl and CD versions of Bolton’s version. The CD version is shorter for some reason. This is the only Michael Bolton song i’ve dissected, so i can’t speak to the other ones. But i really do like this song. i’ve liked it since i’ve heard the OG back in ’83.

Speaking of…. i have no shame in saying i absolutely love what is now in this day and age, lovingly called ‘Yacht Rock’. Player, Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Gino Vannelli… No one should be too punk to love some well-crafted tunes. i came up in an era where a lot of that stuff crossed over into the hood.

‘Biggest Part Of Me’ by Ambrosia was another one of those jams, so when Take 6 covered it years later we all just knew they would do it right. Given that they largely do gospel, they switched up the lyrics in order to stay on that path. Even if someone’s not Christian, that should not stop them from enjoying a great song. Good music is good music. There have been plenty of gospel songs that traveled over into the pop charts. Both versions of the song did fairly well, but i’m not sure of how many people know both.

i did lower the key to Ambrosia’s version to match Take 6’s. i also played the drums.

This next song, i know for sure that there has been no general cross-cultural (or generational) exchange. When you think of ‘Float On’, you are most likely either thinking of the Floaters or Modest Mouse. Not both.

Until now.

This is something i absolutely had been thinking about doing for a while, but i didn’t know if it was gonna work out. i can’t possibly have been the only person to think of this combination. i’d be surprised if that was the case. i did keep the drums, but played the bass- almost, but not note for note. This was honestly one of my favorite things i’ve made since the start of this blog.

The following song might have you going, ‘there was another version of this song??!!’

Yes. As a matter of fact, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ was presented to Bucks Fizz before it was presented to Tina Tuner; they were told the song needed male vocals, which is how they ended up recording it. Of course we all know what ended up happening after Tina Turner sang it.

i did use the Bucks Fizz version as a base. i also used the background vocals, and put Tina Turner as the lead. The Bucks Fizz version is in a lower key, so i made it higher to match the other.

We end this post how we started… kind of. With two versions of the same song, one possibly more obscure than the other.

‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’ is an incredibly sad song. i’m not sure how (or why) it became popular in some circles of the pop pantheon. The lyrics are full of hopelessness and dread. This song is a companion to ‘Fade To Black’… except if you’ve only heard the version released on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, you might not notice it.

The Danny Hutton Hitters version (the one on the soundtrack) is the first version i ever heard, so i didn’t recognize how sad the song was until i heard Nik Kershaw’s original some years later. Danny Hutton (of Three Dog Night)’s reading of the lyrics sound a bit more hopeful that he will get over to the other side, after some struggle. Nik Kershaw sounds like it’s pointless to even try. With that, i opted to wage a conversation between the two. In between the conversation are scenes from Pretty In Pink– one of the the few John Hughes movies i actually remember liking. Though i hated the end (because i hate scenarios wrapped up in a neat little bow), the movie did take a dip into a discussion on class. i know some of his other movies did as well, but Pretty In Pink is the one i watched the most of as a kid.

i played the bass on this one, while the Danny Hutton version was the bed for the vocals.


If you’ve read anything on this site (hopefully you do read the posts!) you already know i’m not a huge fan of pop music in general. i’m not referring to music that is popular- that would make little sense, since my favorite artist is Michael Jackson. i also make Metallica-related posts every week. i could be wrong; it just seems to me that the genre of ‘pop’ tends to not particularly take risks. A particular artist could be quite good. However, if said artist is deemed ‘the one’, the industry attempts to oversell that particular sound.

There was a time though, when ‘pop music’ took more risks with their catchy hooks, thereby making radio more diverse than it certainly is today. Australia-based INXS was one of those bands.

Initially, their influences stylistically appeared to be ska, post punk and ‘pub punk’ bands and artists like XTC, Ian Dury and Lena Lovich (and other bands on Stiff Records); and so-called ‘new wave’. They were also coming of age artistically with (the also located in Australia) Nick Cave. Like many bands, they shifted musically into a more ‘pop’ territory. While for all intents and purposes they were still a rock band; and while you in some ways heard some of their original inspirations pop in once in a while, they began to pick up more cues from classic soul and R&B.

While songs like ‘Need You Tonight’ crossed over into the hood, the first INXS song i ever heard was two years earlier: ‘This Time’ (from 1985’s Listen Like Thieves). i remember liking the song, but it wasn’t until a few years later as an early teenager when i became totally obsessed with them.

Yup. i was a burgeoning punk kid, and i was absolutely in love with INXS.

Despite being ‘rock stars’ they didn’t seem that way to me… even with Michael Hutchence as the front man. Yeah, he totally played up the ‘sex symbol’ thing… but they all just seemed like awkward, regular dudes to me. They were huge, but they weren’t bombastic. They played anthems, but they weren’t anthemic.

And they crafted some massively good songs, but didn’t take themselves too seriously.

My favorite INXS song of all time is ‘Horizons’; it became my favorite song of theirs from the moment i heard it years ago on cassette. It’s the first time i recognized a song being written in the way that was written. You could randomly pick a song out of their catalog, and chances are you will like it: ‘Don’t Change’, ‘Communications’, ‘Shine Like it Does’, ‘In Vain’, ‘The Stairs’, ‘Johnson’s Aeroplane’… It was really difficult to choose which songs to do for this post. While their ‘hits are just as great i definitely wanted to focus on their lesser-known songs for the most part.

Like (Minneapolis’) Mint Condition, INXS were a pretty self-contained band. Consisting of Garry Gary Beers (one of the greatest bass players- ever. Both he and Graham Maby are severely underrated), Andrew Farriss (primary songwriter/composer and keys/guitar), Kirk Pengilly (guitar and saxophone), Michael Hutchence (vocals and lyrics- and fan of Anthrax!), Jon Farriss (drums) and Tim Farriss (guitar); for 20 years (until the physical departure of Hutchence), all original founding members were together, since their birth in 1977- originally called the Farriss Brothers.

To begin this musical trip through INXS world, we’ll begin with their first single, released in 1980: ‘Simple Simon’/’We Are the Vegetables’. The clear punk influences are there. Anyone familiar with their later material might find this to be surprising. Of course, the burgeoning punk kid in me was VERRRRY pleased to hear this.

‘Guns In The Sky’ (from 1987’s Kick) is to me, one of the greatest album openers of all time. A response to the Reagan Administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the music video (which exists despite it not being a single) flashed ‘SDI’ randomly on the screen. The song is a rightful critique of the u.s. government’s allocation of resources to everything but what it should be going to- which is, assuring the masses’ basic material needs are met.

The drum in the original song is built around a Roland 707; i used the Alessis (and not the Octapad) for this one, so (obviously) the drums are not as booming. i did keep Hutchence’s vocals (because i can’t sing like that!), and played guitar and bass, in addition to the drums. It sounded more like a garage version than the (again) booming anthem it is (smiles).

‘What Would You Do’ (from Underneath The Colours) is another one of my absolute top favorites from the band. In the pocket for the most part, it’s got one of my favorite bass lines in an INXS song. i also love the nod to ‘Stay Young’ (also on the album) as well.

We will take a detour back to the band’s first (self-titled) album, with ‘Jumping’, another one of my favorites. This song is perfect- the bouncy bass, the horn accents (why don’t pop bands have horns anymore??!!), the touch of two tone ska, the guitar being utilized in the verse as a melody with Hutchence’s vocals, the spacey keys, the half-time drums… i love this era of music, with its the post punk disco and ska influences.

Finally, we have a song which is perhaps one of their most beloved- ‘Mystify’. i woke up with this song in my head, so after i got up i started singing it- i wanted to do it just a capella, but it didn’t feel right. i started messing around on the piano, and that didn’t feel right either. Something else was going on in my head. i started messing around on the bass, and i started hearing a beat in my head. It ended up being a sludge rock-influenced half time ditty (with a tiny, tiny bit of tiny tiny discordance (smiles)), as opposed to the bounciness of the original.

i know i’m not that great of a singer- but i do it anyway. i like to sing. Not being that great at singing is a nice feeling, when you’ve survived being hit by a truck.

Metallica Fridays (no. 17): Throw Ice Into The Fire, And Watch It Damage Your Fears

So… wow. i have a lot of feelings around James Hetfield’s recent comments in Brazil. Every week on these ‘Metallica Fridays’ posts i talk about ‘getting out of my head’ and learning to embrace my mistakes as a way of further understanding the journey… and here he is at the age of 58, openly discussing his anxieties and insecurities around no longer being able to play in the same ways he once did. i wrote my feelings on his speech here; one thing i did not say though, is that if his concerns are around not being able to play well, many would absolutely disagree. There are many who have had harsh critiques for the band for years, who are coming out and saying they’ve been playing better than ever. While none of us could ever know the full extent of what James Hetfield is going through, one thing we can all say is that, unless something happens to really affect his motor skills (God willing that does not happen), he is in no danger of putting on no less of a great performance.

As private a person as he is, being open in where he’s at mentally is significant in that his words may have saved someone’s life- including his own. As a person who lives with depression, his words around mental health (as well as the Load, ReLoad and St. Anger albums specifically) always resonate with me.

i’ve said this elsewhere, and i’ll say it again here: i think 58-year old James Hetfield is cool. And i’m sure at 59, 60 and beyond he will be just as cool.

Don’t let the demons take hold of the Heaven in your head…

Doing the posts for this site- and the Metallica posts specifically- have been helping me pull through the struggle in many ways: the struggles of this ‘new’ life as an amputee; the struggle of learning not to be as frustrated with my mistakes; of learning to let go. The struggle of actually taking in new ways of listening to music. The music experience is very different as a person having to learn how to play the songs, versus simply listening to it. And sometimes that is frustrating, because it seems like you can never get it ‘right’. The point SHOULD be though, that you are playing it in your own way, versus copying what you hear. Given that i am physically limited in how i, for instance, play drums, i have begun to find that i do have a particular style… and that is interesting to see. i just aim to be as respectful as possible to all artists. Even if it’s just me seeing these posts, i know that it’s helping. If others see these posts and it helps them, it’s even better.

…And since i mentioned the album earlier, i think we will start with ‘Attitude’, from ReLoad. It makes me laugh that people always get on Lars for that scene in Some Kind Of Monster (including Kirk and James), when he’s trying to counter the ‘stock’ (according to him) riff with a particular drum pattern… when dude is a MASSIVE fan of rhythmic illusions. As am i. All their albums have them. i’m not sure if it’s because of the few (in comparison to others) lessons he’s had over the years, so he has little technical knowledge, and sees these patterns in his head. Lars adding an extra beat (or coming in a half step beforehand) is very common, and learning how to play to Metallica songs throws off many a more ‘traditional’ drummer.

i will always love Lars for this. There is no one like him.

To me, ‘Attitude’ is an example of this. When i first heard the song i was like, ‘Whut? Wait. i…’ The difference between this song and some others is, Lars counts off on the 2, so you get a little help in knowing where to start. Some of the other songs just blast off, and you’re like, ‘Wait- is he starting on the 2 or the 3??!!’ i’m not that good at counting beats and measures (as y’all probably see with some of the glaring mistakes i’ve made in these posts- HA!), so i do it all by just listening to the song, and going there.

So i think the kick started (a little early) on the 1, and the snare/crash combination started at 2. Then when the song kicks in, it starts on 2. Is my count correct?

i mean, i play music but i’m not a musician. That’s probably safe to say.

All i know is that i’m glad Load and ReLoad exist. To me, those albums encompassed the ‘bigness’ of the Black Album sound, but in terms of subject matter and arrangement it was an evolution.

Here we return to what was my favorite Metallica album for 30 years- until Load knocked it out of that spot… Master Of Puppets! It amazes me that people so young can make such complex music. i highly doubt you would have had an album like Load, if Lars and James never approached Cliff Burton. He was a major inspiration for the evolution in their sound. Would they have remained strictly a thrash or NWOBHM-inspired band, had they not met him? Would there have been just straight shredding for every single song? Perhaps. We will never know though. What we DO know (again) is that Cliff brought to the band some invaluable elements.

…Including the classic intros. Whether it’s ‘Damage Inc.’ (which i play to here), ‘Blackened’, ‘To Live Is To Die’, ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, ‘That Was Just Your Life’, ‘Fixxxer’ or other favorites… all of those are clear nods to Cliff Burton’s influence. So of course Cliff deserved the intro. After all, it’s him playing the intro.

Metallica definitely are one of the best in knowing how to sequence and bookend albums.

Aaaaaaaaand… even though ‘Blackened’ is my favorite Metallica song of all time, my current favorite song (because there is a difference) is ‘Trapped Under Ice’. ‘Trapped’ was one of my wishes for the 40th shows- AND THEY DID IT. i lost my voice as a result, screaming so loud as those opening chords played, then singing along.

This song involves one of my least favorite things in the whole world- being cold, and one of my greatest fears- being trapped. Snow is one of my top ten favorite things in the whole world, but i absolutely hate being cold. i have also been trapped before. One of my top 3 greatest fears in the whole world was also being hit by a truck, and i actually survived that. Can i survive being trapped under ice? i doubt it.

The bass (unsurprisingly) was recorded so low so i had to figure out for myself how to play it, without any cues from Mr. Burton. i played a bunch of root notes (of course!), and added a bit of harmony. i did end up seeing a few bass covers of the song- most covers of this song are on guitar- but every single person played it their own way, playing mostly with the guitar. My guess is that it’s because you can hardly hear the original, unless you remixed it to make the bass louder (which is what i actually did with ‘Damage Inc.’).

A block of ice made a guest appearance here… They never left their name though.

This One’s For The Grrrls…

i was sitting around thinking one day (when does that NOT happen, right?) about the numbers of women who inspired me- the multi-instrumentalists, the composers, arrangers… The women who rejected the notions of what they should do, and how to be. The ones who laid the foundation for not only me, but all the kids who today and yesterday who have been marginalized (by gender, class or culture).

i wanted to make a post honoring these women, but it was difficult to know where to start. Do i start with Betty Davis? Phyllis Hyman? Teena Marie? Alice Coltrane? LaBelle? Chaka Khan? Marlena Shaw? Randy Crawford? Angela Bofill? Rachelle Ferrell? Memphis Minnie? Do i go with Mother’s Finest? Silverfish? DQE? ESG? Skunk Anansie? To make it a little easier i narrowed it down to all-women bands. And still, that’s not easy… because you have everything from Girlschool to Fanny to The Runaways to Big Joanie to Cub to the 5,6,7,8s to L7 to the Bangles to The Go-Gos to Luscious Jackson to The Raincoats to The Slits to (two of my favorite current bands, Voice Of Baceprot and The Warning)… you get the picture.

So i narrowed it down a bit more… and it ended up developing into creating a longer post then usual.

i think i’ll start with ‘Catnip Dream’ by Shonen Knife, because cats are the GREATEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. They have other cat songs as well, ‘I Am A Cat’ and ‘Like A Cat’. If you make a number of songs about cats, i automatically like you.

(And of course, my hat is actually applicable here.)

Slant 6 was one of my favorite bands from the ’90s. They were only around for three or four years. In those years i saw them live about 2 or 3 times, and even interviewed them for a fanzine i was doing at the time.

To me, ‘Don’t You Ever’ (from Soda Pop * Rip Off) is one of the greatest album openers. i am just playing drums here. ‘Semi-Blue Tile’ was the b-side of the ‘What Kind Of Monster Are You’ 7″. For this song, Christina Billotte’s vocals remain, but i play bass, drums and guitar.

The Lunachicks was one of the funnest shows i have ever seen… and they made a love song to Mabel King. Perhaps the ONLY love song to Mabel King!

It was interesting to edit and look back on this series of videos, because i tend to forget about being covered neck to foot in tattoos (despite seeing them every day). i don’t wear shorts a lot (outside of the time i’m practicing with the prosthetic), so it was funny to see my leg bouncing up and down with the kick drum, with all the visual tattoos and scars. i also forgot the shirt i was wearing has a hole, so you can see a peek of my rib piece (if you look close enough- of course, that rib piece has to do with cats). Outside of forgetting my own canvas, i absolutely love and am obsessed with people who are covered- especially women. So seeing the Lunachicks makes me very happy.

i’m playing drums to the title track to the album Jerk Of All Trades. This song goes after my heart, because i’ve had to punch a few dudes for touching me without my consent.

Speaking of never underestimating a woman… Klymaxx wants to inform you to never underestimate our power.

Before they gained popularity with songs like ‘The Men All Pause’, ‘Meeting In The Ladies Room’, ‘I Miss You’ and ‘Divas Need Love Too’, they were more of funk band. Solar Records had some gems, for sure. Before i was a burgeoning punk kid, Klymaxx was the first all-women band i recall being familiar with, by name. Maybe even before the Bangles and the Go-Gos.

i am playing to the title track of the album, Never Underestimate The Power Of A Woman. i know my drumming isn’t as funky or in the pocket as Bernadette Cooper (who co-wrote the song), but i obviously aim to be respectful.

Another band i have seen live (and if you’ve ever seen them you will not forget it) is Tribe 8. A few of the members currently identify as trans; however i still am posting one of their songs because during the existence of Tribe 8 they all did identify as women (and if i am wrong about that, i apologize). Tribe 8 had no qualms about pointing out the intersections of oppression (i think having band members comprise of Indigenous, African and Asian folks helps), and they were unapologetic in their queerness. Also, they are incredibly cool people. At least they were when i met them.

The song i am playing to here, ‘Republican Lullaby’, speaks to the pro-militarism, jingoism, xenophobia, disinformation campaigns and racism/white supremacy permeating the republican party (in the u.s.); i would argue though, that these lyrics should extend to democrats as well. If you pay attention close enough to the policies (and not these low hanging fruit issues they want you to focus on) you will find little difference between the two.

One of the most well-known groups coming out of the Riot Grrrl movement was Bratmobile. They were a band who used humor to relay messages around sexual violence, racism, and more. i ended up forming a pen pal/friendly relationship with guitarist Erin Smith (who was living in Maryland, if i’m not mistaken). Whenever they came to town i would see her, and hang out a bit.

Bratmobile remind me a bit of the Misfits- tonally, not visually. They actually did cover ‘Where Eagles Dare’, so i may not be too far off. Here, i play to ‘Brat Girl’, which was probably an anthem for many a punk girl (or boy, or agender person) who got groped at a show, or taken advantage of in other ways. There’s no bassist in the most well-known incarnation of the band, so i decided to experiment with what that would sound like here (as well as (obviously) play drums).

And finally, i decided to play one of my own songs- a song i haven’t played since i was about 17 or 18 years old. In fact, it’s a song you can hear in the very first post i made for this site.

As mentioned in that post, i was in a band called The Girlymen. It was the first band i was ever in, with Mayumi (drums), and Abby (bass). i honestly have no idea what most of the lyrics are to this song (save for the title: ‘Chock Full Of Crap’), so i kept Abby’s original vocals, and just played guitar, bass and drums. i need to see if SHE remembers!

And yeah, i am using a China cymbal. Oh no… i really AM turning into Lars!

It always comes back to that, don’t it? Hee hee…