Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ turns 25
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My colleague Adrien Begrand emailed me a few minutes ago, reminding me that Master of Puppets turns 25 today.
His very personal recollections of the record are here.
In his email, he said:
[I]t hit me that while a life doesn't turn suddenly upon hearing a record for the first time, that album pointed me in the direction towards where I am today, so much more than high school ever did. I never thought that, but it's absolutely true. I was literally speechless at the fact that, yeah, metal shaped my life a lot more than I ever thought.
Reading that, I, too, realized that Master of Puppets changed my life.
The way it did so wasn't as momentous as it was with Begrand. He's talking about when "metalhead" irrevocably becomes part of one's personal DNA. Master of Puppets wasn't that moment for me. My process along that road was more gradual.
But Master of Puppets definitely changed in my life in a small but significant way.
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I picked up the guitar in high school. At some point, I bought a white Kramer Strat copy from another kid in school. I learned riffs by ear and borrowed Metallica transcription books from schoolmates. Ride the Lightning was my first guitar teacher.
Some older kids in school entered a battle of the bands. They wanted to play "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" note-for-note. On record, sometimes that song has three guitars playing at once. They had two guitarists, but unlike now, electric guitarists were scarce in high school then. So they drafted me, a rank beginner. I played the easier parts of the song: the opening clean riffs and some of the distorted rhythm riffs.
I don't remember how we did in the battle of the bands. I do remember that I mostly butchered the song. There I was with my white Kramer Strat copy and my Fender combo amp, concentrating so hard that it only made things worse. I still cringe at all those glorious downpicked riffs that I didn't downpick.
That gig is hazy in my memory, but it had a crystalline effect on me. It literally changed the way I hold my hands. From practicing that song so much and trying to get it right, the grip for the opening riff - open low E string, second fret A string, fourth fret D string - became the default way I hold the guitar. When I pick up a guitar, my left hand instinctively makes that shape. Much of what I write now, even though it's not metal, stems from "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)".
There's my little Master of Puppets story. It permanently changed the way I play guitar. That means more to me than anyone else - but so it goes with personal stories.
What's your Master of Puppets story?
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