There was a time in my youth, around 15 -16 years old, where much of what happened in my life was a blur. Maybe it’s self preservation, maybe it’s lack of empathy, or maybe most people find that time in their life to be fuzzy and unclear. What I do remember about that time in my life was that I was living at a “Residential Treatment Center” for youth and I was very confused.
I wasn’t sure who I was, why I was there, or what life I hoped for. There was just no long term dreams or aspirations during that time in my life. It was during this time when something very innocent sparked a flame inside of me that burns to this very day. It all started with a guy named Chris in a room full of teenage kids just as confused and unclear about life as I was.
At the “Nut Hut” as we used to call it, we were told when to eat, “play”, go to counseling, and when to go to bed. We had very little opportunities to express ourselves outside of counseling even though they tried their best to encourage arts and crafts as a way to express our feelings.
The only time any of us truly felt like we could express ourselves and have some level of control over our lives is when we sat in a circle in a large room and took turns playing music on the stereo they had. Each person was allowed to play a song from the tape that they brought into the Nut Hut and for a few minutes they owned the room.
Chris was a tall kid, a couple of years older then I was and he had longer curly hair. He had the kind of facial acne that would make the most outgoing person become introverted and shy away from attention. The first time I attended one of these music sessions I focused on what I would play when it came to my turn and then quickly remembered that I had no tape…….which means I got no turn. Chris clinched this tape in his hand and he leaned over to me and said something like “this is good shit, you’ll like it”.
I had listened to Michael Jackson, Def Leopard, Tears for Fears, and a number of other “Top 40” bands leading up to this moment. I had a vague idea of music but I was not really a fan of any kind of music. Chris put the tape in, closed the deck, and then pressed play.
“Bass Solo Take One” is how it started out. Unless you have heard the song Anesthesia Pulling Teeth it’s hard to describe it. I heard sounds and tones I had never heard before. I swore there was two songs in one, or was it three. And was it really a song? It was an instrumental , no words…….but what the heck is a song with no words? I had never head anything like this before.
The music tugged at my heart and made things happen physically to my body that I had never felt before. This was raw power coming out of the speakers. And once I came to grip with the raw power and rhythm of this majestic song (I hate even calling it a song), it slowed down to a reset right before the final punch hit me right in the heart. The drums came on, out of nowhere and almost like it was an afterthought. The drums and bass flirted with each other and played off one another as my head felt like it was going to explode trying to decipher what was going on.
When the song ended I told Chris , “Play it Again” for my turn. I fell in love with Metallica that day. And while I wouldn’t say I figured out what I wanted to do with my life I will say that I found in Metallica a comforting friend that gave me the courage knowing that the music would always be there to support me.
I’ve pulled a song from Metallica’s albums from time to time when I needed comfort and strength. I’ve reconciled a lot of my childhood through the lyrics and riffs and healed my heart in ways nothing but soul healing music can. And on the way home tonight, for no apparent reason, I decided to play the old song from Cliff Burton that ignited my passion so many years ago during the most difficult times I have ever had.
I walked straight through the door and opened up the laptop to write about my beloved song and feel as though no words can accurately describe what I feel about it. It’s just an amazingly powerful song that sparked a flame that will never go out until I’m called for the next life. If you haven’t heard the song I’d love for you to hear it.
Thanks for reading, Be Good