The Summer Of Thrash (Part One?)

So, my wife recently wrote about her summertime experiences in her blog, and in a miracle of serendipity, it coincided with some things I was thinking aobut today as I watched Metallica’s Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction.  Thus, I blab.

We’ve been getting ready for summer – taking inventory of our Cubs tickets (woo-hoo, many games!), discussing grilling recipes, gearing up for our annual Wisconsin trip – and in the process I’ve been thinking about past summers.  I guess I’m just in a bit of reflective mood since this is going to be my first summer as a married man. 

While this might not seem like something worth considering to a lot of people, it’s a big deal to me for a number of reasons.  Part of it, I think, has to do with my age. 

I’m about to be 35.  Now, while I realize this is one of the “big ones,” I’m not bothered by it.  (Catherine insists that I will be as it gets closer, and she may be right, but for now, I’m cool with it.)  It does have me thinking a lot more than I usually do come celebratin’ times.  And oddly enough, Metallica is what got me thinking.

If you read this with any regularity, you probably know that music is one of the biggest influences on and aspects of my life.  I have a religious reverence for the music I love, and I can’t begin to illustrate in just a few words what kind of emotional connection I have to the bands and songs I’ve grown up with.  It’s not the old cliche of music saving me from a shitty home life or anything.  Quite the opposite, really.  But for whatever reason, when things stick to me, they really stick.  And nothing stuck in my formative years like Metallica.

I’m not going to get all gushy-fan here, but, even though there were many bands I loved as a child and continue to love, Metallica really did change things for me, as I know they did for a lot of guys my age.   First off, they were “speed metal,” a different breed of musical animal from the heavy metal of the 1970s and the teased-hair pop of their contemporaries, so they were legitimately in a class of their own.  In the early days, there truly was no one like Metallica, and, for all the would-bes and hopefuls, there still isn’t.  Flea hit the nail on the head during their induction when he noted that a band so influential and truly great possesses something alchemic that can’t be planned or plotted, mapped out or decoded.  It just is.  It’s magic.  Anyone who has ever truly loved a rock band can attest to this, though they might have a hard time explaining it. 

Metallica wrote big, ferocious songs with great hooks, monstrous guitars, and an attitude that dared anyone to fuck with them.  They made no bones about their ability to kick everyone else’s ass and they did it.  “Blackened,” from 1989’s And Justice For All album, is THE song that, after seeing it live, made me want to play guitar when I was a freshman in high school.  I begged my dad for one, and being a musician himself, he was more than happy to accommodate.  A month later, I had a Fender Strat that, to this day, is the only electric guitar I’ve ever owned.  It’s seen me through my tenure in a real live band and almost twenty years.  I love that guitar.

That was a great time in my life, mainly because  I was truly aware then that I had no idea what was coming.  One of my happiest, most vivid summer memories is of sitting in my bedroom blasting Master of Puppets, the mighty Met’s third album and unrivaled masterpiece, and feeling a sense of real excitement over…nothing in particular.  I just knew things were coming, and I couldn’t wait.

I felt the same way today, watching Metallica claiming their piece of the stage in Cleveland.  And what was cool is that I could see they felt it, too.  I’m not the only one who’s aged and been okay with it.   James Hetfield, the frontman for the band that was once only half-jokingly called “Alcoholica,” thanked his higher power for getting him to stop drinking and then thanked his wife for saving his life.  Then they hit the stage and stomped the shit out of everyone who would dare say they no longer rock.  And it made me smile.  Big.   They’re twenty years older, too, and clearly loving every minute of it, though their joy at revisiting their past was apparent and welcome.   But they’re looking forward.

And it made me realize that maybe 35 would be more cataclysmic if I wasn’t in such a great place.  I’m married to the girl of my dreams, I don’t hate my job, I just finished a novel that I love, and I’ve even got the all-American dog, for Christ’s sake.  Things are really working out for me, in a way that I hoped for back in ’88 but never had any inkling of actually happening as a clueless fourteen-year-old thrashing his head off in his bedroom.  But it is happening, so while some people I know look back at their teen years as a time they wish they could recapture, I look back at that time with nothing but fondness.  I don’t want to go back.  I don’t need to.

So on my way home tonight, I listened to Master of Puppets.  And I thought that if Alcoholica can get sober and still rock my face off, there’s no telling what can happen.


~ by thismarriedguy on April 7, 2009.

One Response to “The Summer Of Thrash (Part One?)”

  1. Hey Chris!

    I apologize for leaving a public comment, but I didn’t find a contact email to reach you! As you know the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is over. But fans of the 2009 Inductees can still participate in the celebrating the artists (including Metallica! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has created a digital monument for the 2009 Inductees called Rock Immortal. The website is a monument created by the fans. Fans can upload videos, audio, photos, and write notes to honor the artists. You can share your stories about Metallica on the site. It would be awesome if you could pass this website on to your readers!

    You can access Rock Immortal here:

    Social Media Release:

    \m/ Rock On,
    Rachel Wishart
    American Pop

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