The universe speaks again… i mean, it always does; the question is, do i listen or not.
As i was prepping to do this post something told me to re-look at Metallica’s 2009 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame appearance. Flea (bass player with the red Hot Chili Peppers) gave a moving speech, in a ‘Crash Course In Brain Surgery’ t-shirt. “When I hear Metallica I get this feeling that they are doing something that they have to do. Like there is this thing in them wound up so tight they have to let it out, let that thing uncoil; it has to be released. An infinite well of sadness, a hell of a lot of pain and anger; but mostly, a lot of love for the process that they have created for releasing this stuff.” He continues, “Whatever gets thrown at them, they persevere, and they get stronger. They are a family.”
i honestly feel like this applies more to Metallica now, than it did even in 2009. i mentioned this in the last post, but i really do think they have honed in their purpose, which is, being a vehicle for connection- music just happens to be the particular vehicle they do it in. They have been through a lot of trauma, grief and pain. they have also acted out in ways that have not been the most healthy. Through a lot of conscious work they have been able to utilize their gift(s) to share with the many others who have experienced that as well. To me, it’s a bit deeper (and more spiritual) than just writing and performing a ‘Fade To Black.’
i have written about this before; however, i am thinking about it during this more current life experience. i moved into a new house; in it, we have been able to create a proper space to play music in. The room is called:
Because of course it is.
It feels really good to have a proper set of drums. Though i have played drums in several bands, i have never had a(n acoustic) set of my own. Playing an acoustic set as an amputee (versus a smaller electric set) when your amputated leg doesn’t bend all the way is NOT easy. My leg is just hanging out there, with no real support. Because of this situation i also have the drums set up differently.
The crash cymbal is much closer to me, on my left. The floor tom, i alternate between my left and right sides. The snare is farther to the right side, as i use my left foot for the kick. Despite being right handed (and have used to have played that way before the accident), i now play more like a left handed person. i had been experimenting with various ways i could set up the drums, and this is the way that’s made me happiest to play. This post is the first time i’ve recorded drums on this set, so i am still in experimentation mode. The rack tom definitely could have been mic’d a bit lower. There’s also variances in the kick, since my left foot is seemingly eternally swollen, and is not at its strongest state.
Referring to Cliff Burton’s time on earth, Flea (as part of the induction speech) said, “The worst tragedy that could ever happen to anyone- my opinion, is that when they die they never sang their song that was inside of them; they never gave the gift that was inside of them. But the beautiful opposite of that is that if you pass away, and you know that you sang your song, you gave your gift… that is the greatest accomplishment that I could ever hope for anybody.”
Despite any mistakes i made in these posts (and i made a few here), i choose to keep them in because not only is it all a learning process, but it’s also a fully human process. i have to remind myself sometimes that i survived being ragdolled by a semi truck. An 18 wheeler. Making mistakes on the drums (or any other instrument) is the LEAST of my worries in comparison. Life is hard as it is; if i lived my life hiding my process because i made a few (or more) mistakes, i’d be purposefully depriving myself of my own growth.
Clearly i don’t have the same platform as Metallica; that said, my hope is that i can share this experience of doing the best i can do with whatever physical limitations i have- and it will perhaps inspire others to ‘sing the song that’s inside of them,’ no matter how many mistakes.
i figured it would be fitting to play to a couple of songs released since our last post, from the upcoming album, 72 Seasons. These songs mean so much to me, for the reasons i stated in general on this site, and on the last and current posts. The second song released publicly from this album was ‘Screaming Suicide’. James Hetfield during live performances had been speaking openly during the middle section of ‘Fade To Black’, and giving words of encouragement to people who are either experiencing ideation, and/or have been impacted by it in some way. He would exclaim, “You are not alone!”
‘Screaming Suicide’ echoes the same sentiment in song form. Seemingly discussing the feelings of hopelessness that ensues when inundated by social media:
Then my voice appears
Teaching you of fears
Are you good enough?
You don’t recognize
Head is full of lies
You should just give up
Right on down to the usual ideation (which is more of what i experience, since i don’t have social media accounts):
Curse another day
Spirit locked away
Punish and deprive
Hate to be awake
Living a mistake
More dead than alive
Terrified in sleepless nights
Caught in spotlight dead to rights
Isolate and fight your mind
Telling you you’re left behind
This song appears to finally name what has been, up to this point, the ‘Unnamed Feeling’:
And now you speak my name
You’ve given back the blame
Keep me deep inside
Don’t you keep me inside
Even in the song’s description, Hetfield says this. “‘Screaming Suicide’ addresses the taboo word of suicide. The intention is to communicate about the darkness we feel inside. It’s ridiculous to think we should deny that we have these thoughts. At one point or another, I believe most people have thought about it. To face it is to speak the unspoken. If it’s a human experience, we should be able to talk about it. You are not alone.”
The song is very cathartic to play, in particular because i have experienced throughout my life the very thing the song discusses. i could be happy one day, and it suddenly and unexpectedly shows up. Fortunately i’ve gotten better at recognizing what to look for when i see the beginning stages, but i still have yet to prepare for the moment of an actual breakdown happening. It’s a thing i wish onto no one.
i do not know if any of the members of Metallica have experienced first hand what the lyrics entail; i can guarantee (especially based on Hetfield’s speeches during ‘Fade To Black’) that they have been impacted by it in some way, either through people close to them, or fans describing their experiences. i am certainly grateful and appreciative for the song.
(There’s a couple of seconds of no video towards the middle/end; sometimes, one file stops and starts another one. That’s what you see.)
The next song, ‘If Darkness Had A Son’ makes me happy because if my suspicions are correct, this is a direct reference to the infamous Presidio sessions, in preparation for what became the St. Anger album. ‘Temptation’ was a song James Hetfield was fighting for to be on the album, and it seems like he got his wish, 20 years later. While indeed it does make me happy (because… St. Anger), this song seemingly hearkens to a more recent rehabilitation stint Hetfield took in 2019. While this is sad, i am happy he made the decision to do it, for his health- mental, physical or otherwise.
Like many Metallica lyrics, my guess is that this song can be interpreted in various ways as well.
Return again to where it’s darkest
Dragging home this heathen harvest
And all the children subjugated
If darkness had a son, here I am
Temptation is his father
If darkness had a son, here I am
I bathe in holy water
It could be referencing struggles with alcohol (or other addictions); it could also be referencing the struggle one has with repeating the behaviors of their father/parent(s). This song could also be the potential accompaniment to the Unforgiven trilogy- The Un4given, if you will:
The beast still shouts for what it’s yearning
He stokes the fire, desire burning
The never-ending quenchless craving
The unforgiven misbehaving
Has that ‘light of golden treasure’ steered him off his path to the point of falling into the arms of temptation yet again? One can only guess.
With this song, it’s obvious i cannot physically play a double bass (though i do have a double pedal… One day i will get there), so i play the song in my own way, as usual.
i am just grateful that Metallica are still producing songs that have such meaning, where so many can connect with.
(At the end, you hear jesse… He didn’t see the sign that i was recording, and walked in. i didn’t see him until the end of the song. We both got a good chuckle out of it. He really likes Metallica, but he got into them a bit more recently (we went to the 40th together), and he’s not as hardcore about it as me.)