Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Real Reason I Write About Music

Perhaps THE highlight of my music writing career was the week, maybe 8 years ago, when I got to interview James Hetfield and Ozzy Osbourne back-to-back, two half hour phone calls about one day apart. They may have been the easiest, most gracious interviews I was ever given, and leave it to Hetfield to perfectly voice my own reasons for being on that phone.

Metallica's James Hetfield inducting Black Sabbath into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame--

James Hetfield: "BLACK SABBATH is mammoth riffs with menacing lyrics that made me oh so happy. That was gonna be my speech — that was it — but Springsteen kind of upped the ante the last year.

"I'll go a little deeper. Picture a nine-year-old boy — quiet, well-behaved on the outside, but on the inside boiling and dying for a life to burst open with some sort of — any sort of — stimulation and the discovery of music was what was to burst it wide open.

"But not just any music. This was more than just music — a powerful, loud, heavy sound that moved his soul. You see, this timid nine-year-old constantly raided his roommate-slash-older brother's record collection, and going against his older brother's wishes, played those off-limit records on the forbidden record player. And out of all the records he could have worn out, there was no other choice — the very moment he saw their earliest album cover, he knew they were going to offer him a different kind of ride. He was drawn to them like a magnet to metal…

"That's pretty lame, yes. OK, I'll try again.

"More like a shy boy to his own loud voice. Those monstrous riffs lived inside him and spoke the feelings he could never put into words [choking up], sending chills of inspiration through him, from those gloomy lyrics and outlaw chords and all. They helped crack the shell he was stuck in.

"Also, scaring his mom and sister was an extra bonus.

"And now, as the former nine-year-old speaks to you here, as an adult musician — I know those two words really don't go together — I realize that without their defining sound, as my friend Lars has said, there would be no METALLICA, especially with one James Hetfield. Never have I known a more timeless and influential band. They have spread their wonderful disease through generations of musicians. They are always listed as an influence by heavy bands to this day. They are loved and highly respected as the fathers of heavy music. It truly is a dream come true and an extreme honor for me and the nine-year-old still inside of me to induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame such a significant group of musicians. And in the words of our fearless leader Ozzy Osbourne, 'Let's go fucking crazy!'"

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