"Master of Puppets" by Metallica which clocks in at 8:36
I'm not really sure who this kid in the picture here is, but I do know quite a bit about him...
Although he mostly listens to the radio, the records at his mom's dance studio, and the three 7" records he borrows from his parents and pretends to own ("Jack and Diane", "Holiday" (favorite), and "Another One Bites The Dust"), this kid's mother just bought him the very first album he'll officially own. It is Quiet Riot's Metal Health, and it's going to rock his world. Everything is going to change. An intangible force is about to enter his life, pull the strings, and drive him headfirst into the land of METAL.
In no time he'll be banging his head and thrashing around to whatever heavy metal MTV decides to throw in his general direction - listening to Twisted Sister and feeling rebellious like that kid in the video, watching Van Halen and identifying with Waldo, loving every single (slightly) scary moment of the video for "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" and making plans to ditch his alto sax for an electric guitar and a Peavey amplifier as soon as his parents are game for it. The Thriller posters in his room will be replaced by hair metal lords from Poison, Ratt, and Mötley Crüe, but only for a brief time before those give way to Guns N' Roses, Megadeth, and Metallica. It's an all too familiar tale of American suburban male ennui: forces beyond this little boy's control are about to turn him into a metalhead.
It starts when he's the age he is in the picture above (roughly 8), with Quiet Riot, but it doesn't truly take off until some four years later in 1987. When his friend who is a year older than him lets him borrow a tape. The tape. The tape of all tapes. A tape he'll immediately listen to on the way home while riding his hot pink Diamondback freestyle bike and rocking the trusty Sony Sports Walkman; wearing lime green swim trunks (always ready to swim, just in case), an orange tank top, neon yellow Oakley sunglasses, and standard issue Air Max high tops. This is a tape he'll waste no time in high-speed dubbing on his own brand new hot-shit boombox. When he hears the intro to the first track on this tape ("Battery") for the first time, the little boy in the comfy striped shirt pictured above is going to think, for a brief moment, that he might like to study classical guitar. For a good four or five minutes, this tape will inspire him to believe that he could become the Joe Satriani of classical guitar. The notion fades quickly, but this single album is going to rock the smiling kid pictured above to the core six ways to Sunday and turn him into a beast. After all, the album is Metallica's Master of Puppets.
In 1987, Metallica was as intangible to this kid as a fine bourbon, quantum mechanics, or the female body. All three of these things were but dark forces that existed on the periphery of the charted territory of his little world. Each would soon enough pull him savagely towards knowing all there was to know; he no more than a willful puppet operating under their magnetic control. Someday this little boy would grow up to love the taste of finely aged Kentucky Whiskey, would seek out reading books about quantum mechanics on his own accord, and would awake in a haze of amazed disbelief the day after he first kissed a girl. Someday. But first, in 1987, this kid was going to let Metallica do the thinking.
If the album Master of Puppets could be held solely responsible for making little bowlcut stripedshirt (pictured above) turn into a mullet having metalhead, then it most surely was the song "Master of Puppets" that inspired him to cover a stone washed jeanjacket with metal related patches and try chewing tobacco while playing little league baseball. In fact, most stupid, overtly masculine, things that this boy would some day grow up and do might very easily be blamed on the song "Master of Puppets". While it preached a lesson of nonconformity, it beckoned boys to listen to the testosterone within and become enraged blockheads.
Ask this boy what song he was listening to in 1993 while driving two friends home from a youth church activity one night...in his mother's car...what song called to him in a way that left him with no other option than to furiously thrash about in the driver's seat - headbanging, air guitaring, air drumming, yelling "MASTER" as loud as he could - until he briefly lost control of the steering wheel and smashed into the curb, seriously denting the right front wheel of the car...which song brought about this minor accident? Which song was he listening to (same Sports Walkman) in 1988 while laying out at the neighborhood pool, with his eyes closed, when his friend hit him (hard) in the face with a wet Koosh Ball - what song incited him to pick up the Koosh and turn around and sling it back in the direction from whence it came? What song helped him quickly ignore the fact that the Koosh he hucked in the direction of his friend didn't actually hit its intended target, but instead hit a poor helpless two year old girl in the face, causing her to wail in pain and causing him and his friend to get kicked out of the neighborhood pool permanently? Which song did they go and listen to back at his house while jumping around like caffeinated jackhammers declaring "that pool sucks anyway" as they vowed to simply sneak in and use the pool at night? What song made this adorable little boy you see in the picture above into an animal??
After spending a very long, exhausting, thirteen hour long second day at Woodstock '94, which song called to an 18 year old bowlcut stripedshirt in a way that left him with no other option but to charge like a bull into the infinite insanity that was the mosh pit, bringing about high fives, cheers, punches, and gropes from fellow moshers... What song turned this little geek into a Woodstock mosh pit superstar?
Which song was said to be Metallica's original bassist Cliff Burton's favorite Metallica song? Which song was ranked as the 3rd greatest (but should've been the 1st greatest) heavy metal song ever by VH1? Which song was ranked #1 in Martin Popoff's book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs Of All Time?
Twenty years after little bowlcut stripedshirt (pictured above) first heard it, which song would have the power to reign over three of the immortals of classic rock ("Stairway to Heaven", "Roundabout", and "Money for Nothin") in a reader poll intended to decide the song that should appear on bowlcut stripedshirt's music blog, eventually beating out all competitors by the margin of one single vote*? Which song was simply destined to appear here as EAR FARM's 100th 8+?
"Master of Puppets" by Metallica.
Buy Master of Puppets on Amazon/on iTunes.
*be sure to take a look at the results of the poll on the upper right hand side of this page, and thanks for voting!
EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
British Sea Power - “Lately”
The Decemberists - “The Mariner's Revenge Song”
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Free Bird"
Ludwig van Beethoven - "Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 - Allegretto"
Gioachino Rossini - "La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie)"
The Fiery Furnaces - “Inspector Blancheflower”
Morrissey - "Moon River"
Miles Davis - "So What”
To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.
27 December 2007
"Master of Puppets" by Metallica which clocks in at 8:36