Tag Archives: Metallica

What Do You Do When A Song Is Stuck In Your Head?

MusicOnTheBrainI experience music looping in my head on a regular basis, and I’m sure you can think of several times this has happened to you. I’m also a self-taught musician, having learned to play guitar by ear from an early age through careful listening, so, I have a hunch my brain is more active in the “melody-analysis” area, and that I’m prone to experiencing this more often (or at a higher volume) than others. This doesn’t affect my life in any huge external way — I carry on productively and engaged in most any situation. But in a moment of relative quiet, the internal soundtrack often cranks right up.

But Isn’t That What Vocal Hooks Are For?

I’ve found it’s usually key phrases from songs that stand out — like dramatic flourishes or expressive riffs. It’s not always the “pop hook” or vocal element that grabs me, and it can be any obscure track from any time in history, of any genre, not just so-called “popular” music specifically music designed to lodge itself in the brain. Though I’d bet a quantitative analysis of the last 50 years would reveal more bias toward, say, The Andrews Sisters than Metallica.

And then, after a few hours… it’s gone. Maybe I’ve made an effort to listen to the track somehow and exorcise its hold on my spirit. Or, what was there before just gets replaced by another track.

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick

Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick – Power Pop Hook Maker Extraordinaire

Why Does This Happen?

Perhaps as early human cave dwellers, the ability to memorize sound served an evolutionary purpose. Hearing a growl in the distance might have prevented being eaten by a bear, so that would have been a good sound to repeat into memory for an advance warning next time. Or maybe hoofbeats in the distance signaled a tasty herd of beasts just over the ridge. I’m totally guessing, but it’s not implausible given what we understand about the fight-or-flight response.

What Do You Do?

I really wonder if there’s a course of action here. Is there some type of “resolution” or lesson to be learned — or does there even need to be? What purpose does having a song stuck in your head actually serve?

What do you think? Do you find that actually playing the song works to “release” the melody from your brain? Or do you find that songs usually dissipate on their own? Any guesses as to why this happens? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Russian Meteorite Aftermath Video

I don’t see what all the hubbub over the latest meteor in Russia is all about. I mean, based on this documentary of what happened with the Tunguska meteor event in the early 1900s, clearly the proper authorities are on top of things. This film happens to be set to the music of Metallica, but there are subtitles, so feel free to watch with the sound lowered if this type of music isn’t your fare.

And here’s another Russian meteor video featuring the music of Leona Lewis. No word from scientists yet as to whether the music triggered this most recent event as some type of wrath from the heavens.

What do you think? Ever seen a meteor streak across the sky? Anything to be concerned about here? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Mars: It’s On!

20120806-053011.jpg

This is one Sunday where whatever I typically share would not be nearly as compelling as this single image right here, fresh from Mars. Absolutely amazing.

And although it technically disqualifies this post as a Single Image Sunday, perhaps even more amazing is this:

Human beings send a robot to Mars, and take a picture as it lands with a satellite already there. This also happened in 2008, but this photo is even more clear, and still mindblowing. Via redorbit.com

What do you think? Have you been following this story? Were you witness to any other major space exploration milestones? Do you think humans will set foot on Mars in your lifetime? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday… MARS!

I have a fascination with aeronautics, aerospace and aviation. I don’t claim to technically understand much about them, but I think aspects of these fields are fascinating and important. That’s why I’m excited for Sunday, when NASA will be living through a very real seven minutes of terror vividly portrayed in this video about landing the Curiosity rover on Mars.

 

This video is just over five minutes long, and it’s exciting – but not as exciting as the seven minutes of burning anticipation a team of dedicated people are going to have to endure Sunday night (10:31 PST), wondering if their baby has made it to its destination, safe and sound as planned. Props to the NASA PR / Outreach / Education teams for bringing this story to us with dramatic flair.

Mars: Our Generation’s Moon Landing

Since I wasn’t around for the work leading up to the moon landing, this is my guess at what that must have been like. In all the years leading up to Americans walking on the moon, there were many missions like these just getting the logistics figured out. And wow – there are plenty of logistics.

Just think about it: we can see the moon from Earth, even observing features of its surface with our unaided eyes. With Mars, there’s a 14-minute delay from the time signals are sent until the they’re even received here. Thank goodness Curiosity is on Twitter:

NASA Peeps on Twitter

Here are some more cool NASA folk on Twitter – check them out for updates on Curiosity’s mission, and keep following for more news about space, science and exploration:

  • Adam Steltzner – head of NASA JPL’s Mars landing team
  • Lauren Worley – Press office at NASA
  • Stephanie Schierholz – NASA Social Media Manager
  • NASA JPL – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages many of NASA’s robotic missions
  • NASA Social – Announcements on social media & for info about upcoming NASA Socials
  • NASA – the News from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, themselves

Go, Science!

That we’ve ever been able to set anything on Mars’ surface, successfully navigate its terrain, take pictures from multiple angles then transmit them back them before our eyes on Earth is nothing less than astounding. And this Sunday, it can happen again. Unless something goes horribly awry – which is always a distinct possibility… but if it were easy, anyone could do it. My great respect goes to the entire Curiosity team and everyone at NASA for their work on this project.

Let’s hope all goes well for the Curiosity team this weekend.

What do you think? Will humans ever make it to Mars? Or Pandora? Did you ever fantasize about space travel? Are there aliens out there? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Some Thoughts on Metallica

Metallica

The one, the only.

These guys? Millions of albums? Really? Yep.

For several years when I was a young rocker, Metallica were my favorite band. This was about the time Master of Puppets broke. They were opening for Ozzy, and amid the Mötley Crües and glam metal bands (which I can now appreciate), here were four scruffy guys from southern California on the cover of Hit Parader looking real and ugly, who did not make videos, and who pounded out metal that swirled and convulsed like nothing else before. It was at once musical and fierce, determined and defiant. Right place, right time. Props to Ozzy’s team for recognizing real talent.

This was when Master of Puppets was the cool record (or, more likely, tape) for those in the know, and the idea that some shaggy stoner could walk onstage in his Misfits shirt and rock the crap out of symphonic-scale metal to mass appeal was beyond most people’s thinking at the time.

Cliff Burton

Cliff Burton, Original Metallica Bassist. 2.10.62–9.27.86. Click for a rare interview from 1986.

Nearly as much was made in their mainstream rise of the band’s wearing street clothes onstage instead of spandex. They were one of the first acts I can recall receiving this level of press who said, “we don’t care what you think — this is who we are,” when it came to their appearance and their sound. It must have amused them to field so many questions about their “look,” but it opened the door to discussion of the music: uncompromising and finely crafted. Their image and attitude were simply uncompromising. Of the four band members, late bassist Cliff Burton personified this the most. He wore bell bottoms, played a nondescript Aria Pro II bass through distortion, and even made the rest of the band relocate from Los Angeles to San Francisco (where he lived at the time) before he would consider joining. Bold, loud, ugly. If you don’t like it, so what. I can’t picture Burton playing on much of the band’s 1990s material, but I can sure envision him approving of what they’re making these days.

Later came Garage Days Re-Revisited (still good), and the kinda-dissapointing and bittersweet And Justice For All. I ate Justice up, even though the production suuuuucked, and they finally did a video. I caught them on tour with Queensrÿche and my neck was literally sore the next day from headbanging. Hey, I was 15.

Following a zillion plays of Johnny Got His Gun on Headbangers Ball, a few years of courting ever-more inevitable superstardom, then comes the Black Album. I observed from afar and promptly lost interest. Follow several more years of mainstream whatever, and… I don’t even know because I didn’t keep up. Blah, blah, blah… St. Anger.

Now, St. Anger is my favorite Metallica album ever. It’s a complete F-you to everyone, including their fans, who some have theorized actually appreciate masochism. Whatever — this is finally a record for the band, by the band, as ugly as they want to be, with Bob Rock on bass (producer, also of Bon Jovi fame, through those several albums I never bothered to keep track of). I like to think of this as his redemption for years of arena-grade guidance. By the way, respect to Jason Newsted for hanging in there all this time. I hope he’s set for life and that they’ve all made peace with each other.

Jason Newsted’s band in 2011: Papa Wheelie [article from Contra Costa Times on 11.11.11, One Louder Day]

 

St. Anger. Not Pretty.

I could write 1000 words on St. Anger alone, but that’s not the point of this post. St. Anger represented so much for these guys, now millionaires, adults, sober, going to therapy… good grief… and yet they make this noise. It’s a deeply satisfying, ugly, abrasive run from beginning to end. And there’s a DVD of them playing every single track. It’s not just a few singles and some filler. They mean every note. They took a ton of crap for it at the time, and especially for the accompanying documentary, but the music still pushes the envelope like none of their other records since the last they created with Burton, Master of Puppets.

Following St. Anger comes Death Magnetic. I credit Robert Trujillo’s integrity (scroll to 4:26 for Hit The Lights) and talent for spurring on the other three to prove they have it in them. On  initial listens, I thought it was OK. Since then, I’ve seriously come to appreciate and rock out to it regularly. My favorites are That Was Just Your Life and the excellent All Nightmare Long. What got me into this record was watching them execute Nightmare live. They composed this late in their career and play it with as much conviction as anything else, even from back in the day when I was a teenaged headbanger.

 

So say what you want about their less-favorably-percieved moments. Their decade or so of eh-metal. My faith has been renewed. I will admit I don’t understand Lulu, and it’s really easy to say it just plain sux, but I can’t help respect their attitude for birthing such a beast. Steven Hyden, editor of The AV Club, one of my favorite entertainment media sites sums it up well:

Worst album of the year that
gave me the most pleasure

I’m not defending Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu; most of the horrible things written about it are true. But I can’t think of another album—not even the records I loved most this year—that I enjoyed thinking about more, or hashing out with other music fans. It is a bad record, and painful to listen to—but it was a pleasure to talk about.

  —Steven Hyden, TheAVClub (@Steven_Hyden)

Time will tell how it holds up in the pantheon, but considering Death Magnetic and St. Anger before it, I’m still intrigued enough to remain interested in what they do next. Not many bands at it for 30+ years can anyone say that about. Also: holy crap, we’re old.

What do you think? Are you still somehow a fan of a band you discovered in junior high that’s still around? Are there any other acts whose career arc matches that of these guys?  Is Lulu ahead of its time or completely indulgent and unlistenable? Let us hear from you in the comments!