“We’re playing your birthday party on July 29th at the Rose Bowl. Happy Birthday Danny!”
– Metallica, (probably…)
For those that know me, you knew this piece was coming eventually. My heartfelt but often cheesy open letter to my favorite band. Well, here it is…
THANK YOU METALLICA.
My “story”, is not unique. In fact, I would assume it’s fairly common. But that doesn’t make it any less meaningful for me. For some people music is just sound that plays in the background of someone’s life. But for others, music is at the forefront. Everyday. Daily commutes aren’t daily commutes to me any more. They’re exclusive listening parties, sold out arenas, and intimate acoustic performances. Technology today allows me to go on the road with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Los Tigres Del Norte, and more often than not, METALLICA. (caps added to emphasize METALLICA’S AWESOME-NESS)
As is the case for most young kids, I found Metallica at a very turbulent point in my life. I was the product of a single mother household where dad was either around or really wasn’t, it was often hard to tell even back then. Most days I turned to music as a way to feel a part of something. I was in middle school where often times what’s popular amongst your classmates becomes what’s popular in your mind. It was the days of Nirvana and System of a Down and days of a little extra freedom with friends and especially with music. Parties become separate from family gatherings and become lessons in socializing. But my middle school memories don’t include parties, getting in trouble for being out late, or getting picked on. My middle school memories include listening to Master of Puppets for the first time and trying to figure out how in the f%$k you guys could play those songs.
So there it began. I ran through the whole catalog which at that point was Kill Em’ All – S&M and began learning every possible riff I could physically play. I’d tear through albums as I tore through calluses on my fingers, annoying the neighbors by the time I hit 1988. I soaked it all in. Every album, every live recording, every DVD I could get my hands and ears on. Metallica became this constant friend I would rush home to hang out with. It became the older brother I never had, the absent father I wanted to forget. My hiding place safe from drugs or alcohol. Transitioning into high school meant more parties, more freedom, and of course more temptations. But as corny as it sounds, Metallica kept me grounded. Kept me from making questionable decisions and kept a guitar glued to my hands.
Then it all changed. While it didn’t come quite as quickly as I would have liked, I saw Metallica for the first time in 2008. I don’t think there is any way to put into words (and I love words) just how I felt seeing Metallica live for the first time. It was an experience in all definitions of the word. I remember hearing The Ecstasy of Gold come onto the PA and just being overcome with emotions. It wasn’t just a concert for me. It was my small token of my appreciation and gratitude towards a band that has brought me so much comfort over the years. A physical ‘Thank You’ to Metallica. Believe me, I knew every word to every song and sang my throat sore. I didn’t care that I was 40 rows back. I needed you to hear me.
So today, I will use my words to thank you. I’ve grown up with your music which in some small part, made me the person I am today. I went from middle school, to high school, through a year in college and into the workforce. But this July 29th, my 28th birthday, I will thank you all again in person. This time as a father and husband, with my wife by my side. I think that’s pretty cool.