DeftDigits, a blog on learning guitar, has some great advice for initially picking up some basics: “Practice What You Love | Deft Digits Guitar Lessons”
Personal practice for the week is this. What an awesome version of a great song.
My brother, Dante, runs one of my favorite blogs focusing on Metal, and recently featured an interview he held with former Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane singer, Blaze Bayley. It intimate and revealing look into his struggles.
Rock Nightmare: “interview with blaze bayley”
Another of my favorite Metal blogs has been running a series of ruminations on individual songs from Metallica’s first four albums. A few entries that are must reads – not because they express exactly why *I* had thought those songs so interesting, but because they might pique your interest if you’ve never really listened to them, or if you are fan, provide you with a new perspective (he’s also a guitarist so there is that ingredient as well). Among my favorites:
“Seek and Destroy” – A Metal anthem.
“Escape” – On asserting individuality.
“Fade to Black” – A song that hasn’t aged as well, that lifts up musically, while lyrically is about giving up.
“For Whom The Bell Tolls” – An analysis of the music, rhythm, speed, and lyrics and how they work so well together.
“Creeping Death” – Again you have a synthesis of music and lyric that few bands could muster.
“Disposable Heroes” – A powerful anti-war song. From a thrash metal band. Not what people who don’t listen to Metal would expect.
“Master of Puppets” – Where the title of this post comes from. Brilliant analysis of a brilliantly structured, visceral song about drug addiction and being manipulated – a theme of the album.
“Sanitarium” – Probably my favorite Metallica song and as his analysis puts it, “thus ends the greatest side to the greatest metal album ever.”
“One” – Metallica’s “Stairway to Heaven”. What is required to play a song like that night after night. Do you think you’d be up for it convincingly? How good are your acting chops?
Invisible Oranges sometimes features guest writers, and recently Beth Winegarner who wrote about the issues with Metal’s culture and women – and most important – steps to improve it.
Erika Meyer shares what it was like learning to play guitar, fighting to make it happen, being a woman, and being told a few times along the way she had ‘no talent’: “How I Learned To Play Guitar”:
In 2000 I was a 32-year-old single mother with a four-year-old daughter. Looking for work as a web developer, I moved to Portland, Oregon, only to find that Portland is a town where it seems EVERYONE is in a band. I would watch my (male) friends in bands and sometimes find myself in tears, because deep down, I still wanted to be part of it. I’d been out of all urban ‘scenes’ and living a pretty isolated backwoods life since 1990, so I was largely unaware of the shifts that had happened in underground rock during the previous decade.
Around my 33rd birthday, I decided to ask for my guitars again, as I had every few years or so since 1990. Amazingly, this time, my mother returned them. I don’t know why she really kept them from me, and I don’t know why she finally returned them, but I immediately started to play. Thinking, “I want my daughter to experience music hands-on”, I bought a little practice amp and picked up where I’d left off, but this time with a new attitude. I decided right away that I no longer cared about ‘talent’. I decided that ‘talent’ didn’t even matter, that what matters, in fact, is passion and commitment. I knew that if I kept on the way I’d had been, I’d go to my death with some serious regret. It was time to take this as far as *I* wanted, regardless of what anyone else thought. I had thought I was playing for my daughter, but really, I was doing it for myself.
That change from a focus on talent and skill to a focus on passion and expression was a huge and important mental switch. I was finally giving myself what no one else had quite given me: permission to play guitar on my own terms. And more than that, I gave myself permission to ‘suck’. And with permission to suck comes the ability to rock, and to overcome all the fears and insecurities that had been holding me captive.
I had begun to understand, also, by this point, a lot more about psychology behind art. I remembered when I was a kid, my friends would tell me, “I can’t draw” and I would say, “Anyone can draw!” I knew it was just a matter of practice and learning to see and to trust your instincts. So I thought, “What if it’s true of music, too? What if anyone can make music?” I also knew by then that artistically frustrated people often try to put down or discourage other artists, so I decided I wouldn’t internalize other people’s negative projections about my abilities or my right to put time and energy into music. I’d focus on what I knew in my heart to be true: that I have just as much right to rock as Mick Jagger does. Maybe even more.
I kept looking on the radio today for some tribute, somewhere. Philadelphia radio is in a sad state. Rock and roll lost a giant.
“Perfect”, by Pink is a kind of cousin to Radiohead’s “Creep”. I’m sure I lost a few folks there who suddenly clicked away. Good, this post isn’t for them. “Creep” is one of those songs that, if you ever felt like an outsider, like you were not where you belonged, and the people around you seemed so much greater than you, and that feeling led to your own self loathing, it spoke to you. Catch this great cover of it:
Pink’s “Perfect” confronts the very same scenario, except instead of the passive-aggressive shrug that “Creep” leaves you with, kicks you in your ass to “chase out your demons” and stick around. Where “Creep” is sung from you, “Perfect” is sung to you from someone who has walked in similar shoes.
I love “Creep”, the song will be around forever. But I think “Perfect” will stand the same test of time right along with it. Songs for the bullied. For those who never quite feel like the fit in. For those that need to know they aren’t alone.
Here are some fantastic covers of “Perfect”:
YouTube: Perfect by Pink Cover by Megan Dettrey :
I was going through my song library tonight, strumming my guitar, and ran into one of Shannon Campbell’s (now Shannon Gunn) old tunes, “Less Like You” from around 02 or so. “Pet Rock Star”, it was good to hear your voice again. I hope you are doing well, from one old blogger to another, from back in the day.
“Master of Puppets” was the among the first three Metallica cassettes I owned. I bought “…And Justice for All” and “Garage Days” at a music shop in Kensington during 1988 and worked my way back through their releases shortly thereafter. My brother and his friends were Metallica fans and “Master of Puppets”, along with “Ride the Lightning”, with a mix of other terrific bands of that era, were the soundtrack to some heady years.
Metallica, from “..And Justice for All” and back, were extraordinary. Push aside the musical changes they went through after the “Black Album” and what you will notice is the lyrics. Prior to the “Black Album” they tackled heavy subject matter head on. It was thinking-person’s metal. Geek metal. There were other bands; Megadeth, Anthrax and especially Iron Maiden and Queensryche, who could match early Metallica for thought provoking music, but few looked *just like you*. Metallica had no videos. They were not on the radio. Had no singles. They wore t-shirts, jeans, and looked like you and your friends. They had a sneaker-net of fans who traded in stories and bootlegs. And with that they sold millions of albums and sold out stadiums. If you’re in a band today, you would probably want to emulate Metallica’s early rise to fame, swapping the sneaker-net for the Web and social media.
I could go on about the reasons why I’m not much of fan anymore. It isn’t about growing out of anything. The band changed how it looked, how it sounded, and in its overreaction to Napster and its lyrical content (“Don’t Tread on Me” versus “Disposable Heroes” or “One” for example), what it stood for. They seem to, just recently, be coming around to what they lost. We’ll see. They were always authentic. And that has carried them through. Anyways, enough of that, 25 is a milestone. Thank you Metallica.
Invisible Oranges: Cosmo Lee: “Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ turns 25”
Wikipedia: “Master of Puppets”
Adrien Begrand: “Great moments in Rock N’ Roll”
NYTimes: 1988: “HEAVY METAL, WEIGHTY WORDS”