16 is a maddening age. You hate your parents, your siblings, your school, your life…..or at least I did. Most of the time. Part of me has always thought “Misfit” was a strong, ugly word for someone. But there I was, not really fitting in. Only because that was the way I wanted it. In high school I hovered in the outer rings of most of the social circles. I ate lunch with the nerds, I cut class and dipped Kodiak with the jocks, I did homework for the mean girls (hot chicks), and I got high with the metalheads.
The metalheads were where I found myself most. They shared their weed, the girls liked me, and I was introduced to Metallica. It was truly an addicting experience. The music I mean. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album was just released and all my metalhead friends were getting it. Except me. Here’s why? At this point in time, I was living in a strict fundamental christian home. I know, right?? And here’s how fun-to-be-mental it was: I had to conceal my Stryper “To Hell With Devil” cassette inside a baseball glove up in my closet. Along with several other “Christian” rock titles. But I couldn’t shake that monkey off my back. I needed that music, that energy, that aggression, that anger. So like a true addict risking it all for that next fix, I asked a friend to dub (yes, I said “DUB”) me a copy on a blank cassette and for weeks it was all I listened to. On the down low of course. But it made it all better.
This album affected me euphorically in a way that is almost embarassing. At that point, I didn’t even understand what most of the lyrics were, but sounds just filled my head and totally blocked everything else out and for me, right then, that was magical. The acoustic guitar intro to “Battery” created such an anticipation for the song to start, the title track “Master of Puppets” completely mesmerized me. “Disposable Heroes” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium) were among my other favorites. And still are.
This music got me through a rather forgettable period in my life and I have always considered “Master of Puppets” to be one of those pivotal albums for me and my passion for music. Some have said it’s the best metal album ever recorded and I don’t disagree at all. But going back to that period, I can’t talk about “Master” without mentioning that later that year, September 27th, 1986, bassist Cliff Burton was killed when Metallica’s tour bus rolled on a highway in Sweden. His contribution to the band up to that point is undeniable. To sum it up, this band’s longevity is amazing. To still be touring, filming, and recording 27 years later is incredible. Though I am still on the bubble with “Death Magnetic”. I owe “Master of Puppets” a debt of gratitude and it still remains in rotation in my iPod to this day. So pick it up, put it in, turn it up, and close your eyes. Until next time.