I am grateful for you, my boyhood living room. For it was in you, that I had my first chance encounter with a man – four men to be true – who changed my life. Saved it, even possibly.
I was thirteen, pimpled to the point of oblivion, and alone. I was living the all too common (now) story of a boy with recently divorced parents, trying to wade through the confusion and anger concerning the separation of his guiders. His example. His rock. Each day was a test of survival. Surviving the bully ridden hallways of the New Ulm Junior High School – the lunch breaks – recess – any area between a bully and a locker – football practice. My father was out of the house. The majority of my friends had gone from calling me pal to ‘pizza face’. Middle school hormones had turned them against me and my face into, yes, a pepperoni pizza. Locked up in my room, I would wait out the day dreaming of a future beyond those asbestos filled walls of the Junior High. I felt alone. Not understood. You know, like millions, and millions of other young boys and girls hovering around the age of 13.
So there I was, Mr. Confused Rageful Young Man New Ulm, standing in my living room. I was about 8 feet from the tv, in between an old brown recliner and where the shag carpet met the kitchen linoleum. I looked over at our massive, wood veneer lined tube TV – so old that there was a 3 inch black bar of dead pixels across the top – and saw a mans face. A face that faintly resembled, I thought, my father. A man with a goatee, sat in a chair, singing. It was a music video. The music was loud and aggressive. Heavily distorted guitars crunched their way out of the speakers, as a gravely voice dragged itself over the chords. The mood was solemn but assertive. Demanding, cathartic. The first lyric of the song, “…where do I take this pain of mine?” rang over and over in my head. With every line I began to feel as if this man was seeing me, and simply reading what was written in my guts. It – this amalgamation of towering guitars and sorrowful lyrics – seemed to make sense of my confusion. I was enraptured.
Ok, to be fair, when I first saw Metallica’s ‘Until It Sleeps’ music video, I probably thought, ‘Woh. That’s bad ass. I should, like, go out and buy that cd and stuff. MOM I NEED TWENTY DOLLARS!’ **remember when we went out and bought cd’s? when there was some anticipation that built before the eventual satisfaction? yes, I’m thankful for that experience, too**
Metallica entered my life that day, and has never left since. My favorite band then, now and forever. I feel confident saying that after 17 years together.
Certain artists or genres of music tap into our own, unique inner rhythm. One person may hear Led Zeppelin, and know it’s exactly what they need. Another may hear Beyonce and know that’s exactly what they need. You know it when you hear it, and then you know you’re home.
For you, Metallica, I am grateful.