It wasn’t my first memory of them, but it is my most definitive. I was 14 and the Black album had just been released. it was 1991 – there were no cellphones and for introducing music, radio was king, not downloads or file swapping. we’d just barely gotten used to CDs.
barney simon was still on ‘radio 5’ and the master of the alternative/metal/rock mix that the station still made space for late at night.
he made an announcement one night that he would be playing on air, for the first time in south africa, the new single from metallica’s eagerly anticipated ‘black’ album at 9.15 pm exactly the next wednesday. (it wasn’t called ‘the black album’ then and the time could’ve been quarter past midnight for all i remember…)
I listened tentatively, a little disconcerted and bewildered by my own intrigue and attraction to the angry beats and loud voices
my friends and i were already fans. one strange girl i could never quite figure out shoved a few tapes in my hand one day – master of puppets and …and justice for all – and i listened tentatively, a little disconcerted and bewildered by my own intrigue and attraction to the angry beats and loud voices that still managed to carry a tune and rip out some pretty plaintive guitar work.
also i developed a steady and lifelong (it would seem) crush on kirk hammett. so.
by the time barney simon mentioned the scheduled first airing we were beside ourselves with OMFG. someone who knew someone’s second cousin twice removed had heard the single and said it was fucking dark and deep and HECTIC.
we waited a week. it was the best foreplay a kid could experience. especially since i had to listen on the sly. i had a bed time and the airing of this precious song fell outside of it. so. with my lights off and my ear pressed up against my radio i waited. and then…
christ. i wet my pants. it was so dark and heavy. for a newbie almost goth-wannabe playing with the dark side this shit was GOLD. i’d cut my teeth on puppets and justice, so this was like honey.
i was hooked. i bought the album and played in on repeat for months. but black is where metallica ended for me. i didn’t pay much attention after that.
until tonight. 22 years later i saw them on stage for the first time and quite by accident. live big concerts aren’t really my thing. i prefer the more intimate stuff. anyway. they put on the most incredible show. they’re brilliant musicians and hetfield is an entertainer that knows how to work and woo a crowd.
i was surprised by how moved i was to watch these men live; listen to their music that had formed such an integral part of my life (despite the weird form it took in my head at that age) and find re-envisioned and fully appreciated as an adult.
i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, i think musicians have just the most incredible position artistically speaking – that you can create a song and have the world sing it back to you with all the force of energy and memory created by the millions of lives your tune has affected. THAT is a fucking career that matters. i want it.
in my next life.
until then i’ll just thank the gods for clever people like metallica. and kirk hammett.
i still love you kirk.
really wish you’d played this one tonight also