Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Personal Metal

I did indeed go to a movie on Saturday afternoon, to the excellent documentary Global Metal. I don't know if it's showing widely, but if you get the chance to see it, you should go. I loved it. It totally rekindled a long-dormant affection I have for headbangers and heavy metal music. When I came out of the cinema (the Forum) I wandered into Future Shop and flipped nostalgically through the Metallica CDs; I couldn't choose between "Kill 'Em All," "Ride the Lightning," and "Master of Puppets," so I just wandered out again. Probably for the best.

I listened to heavy metal in high school, and I have this soft spot for certain late-'80s albums that, in my memory, are connected to certain boys. Because metal was definitely boys' music, and in high school, boys said what was good and what wasn't. In my group of friends, it was the boys who picked the music. Us girls made mixed tapes for our cars with girl songs by Salt 'n' Pepa and Pet Shop Boys, but in mixed company, boy music ruled. It was in the boys' basements that we would sit and listen to Kiss LPs and watch "Cliff 'Em All" over and over. It was because the boys said so that we knew Iron Maiden were amazing and brilliant and that Slayer was a kick-ass deadly band. It was at the boys' urging that a bunch of us travelled to Seattle to see Metallica during their Damaged Justice tour in the summer of 1989 (although us girls went to Calgary to see the show again, without the boys).* At our high school graduation ceremony, "Orion" was piped into the arena while we all marched out in our caps and gowns.

None of this seemed gender-oppressive at the time. These boys were so passionate about music that it made me love music, too. And us girls had a blast at those Metallica shows; we held our own in the mosh pits and banged our heads so hard that we couldn't move our necks all the way home. We bought the T-shirts and had crushes on the musicians (for me, it was Jason Newstead), but we really did like the music, too. From the boys I learned how to really listen to music and how to talk about music and take it seriously. They made me mixed tapes and really wanted to know what I thought of the songs. And when I came across Jane's Addiction and the Pixies in Grade 12 I knew that I'd started to find my music. (And when I went by myself to see both bands play at the PNE Forum in 1990, with Primus, all the boys were jealous.)

Over the last 20 years, I've been introduced to lots of different music by boys, but increasingly by other ladies, too. I've met women who are musicians and critics and serious fans. And I haven't listened to metal in a very long time. (Probably my last close encounter was at an all-day concert in the summer of 2004 on Fulong Beach outside of Taipei where Andrew W.K. played. I don't know if he's technically considered metal, but he's certainly freaking loud.) But I suspect I'll always have a mushy fondness for metal and the boys who love it. Global Metal is about both of those things, and I left the theatre on Saturday feeling exhilarated in that way that can only come from spending an hour and a half in the presence of really, really noisy music. (Seriously, watch the trailer.)

Link: interview with the filmmakers on CBC-TV's The Hour

Link: "I'm a huge metal fan" T-shirt

* My mind is blown a little bit right now. I vaguely remember cameras swooping around during the Metallica show in Seattle, and now there are all kinds of videos on YouTube of that show. I was there! I was right at the front, actually, so if you see a sweaty girl among all those sweaty boys, it might be me. :)

8 comments:

regina said...

For me, it's all about "master of puppets." My friend lauren walked down the aisle to Metallica (done by a string quartet). It was pretty surreal, but somehowe, it worked.

Stacey said...

Oh man...here I am, about to leave on a little drive and I was thinking about what cds to bring when I got distracted by my bloglines. Now I know what I am bringing! *sigh* All the memories came flooding back: my brother and Metallica (he even had a sherpa lined denim jacket with a "kill Em All" patch on the back, my friends and Iron Maiden. Wow. I haven't thought about some of that stuff in a while. I know they weren't "metal" but I was a big Guns And Roses fan. Appetite for Destruction is still in my Top 10 of all time list.

Thanks for the nostalgia Alison ;)

Cari said...

Oh, man, yeah. Except I hung out with the punk boys and the skaters, so for me it was hardcore. I get all kinds of nostalgic about 7 Seconds and Fugazi. It was the earnestness in the way the boys cared about the music that gets to me, thinking back. And all that colored vinyl...

TheBunny said...

Jason Newstead lived around the corner from me when I lived in Arizona. This was while he was in Flotsam and Jetsam. They were one of THE big local bands and when Jason got into Metallica, it was HUGE news!

jodi said...

Oh, I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one with a hidden love for 80s metal. I used to have Kill em All and Ride the Lightning on vinyl and (perhaps stupidly) gave them to my stepbrother. Now I wish I still had them, of course. My other little brother used to have that Jason Newstead hair, long and all shaved underneath, and he and his friends would jam on Orion for hours in the basement. Oh, yeah.

Sarah said...

I *met* my husband at a metal show, back in 1997. :) He's a huge 80's metal fan, though, and recently bought on CD all the old Megadeth, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden (he already had all the Metallica).

georgia said...

I loved Global Metal too. My boyf is a massive metal fan and I love going to metal shows with him (the heavier the better!). My own listening tends to run more to Guns n' Roses/Black Crowes kind of heavy rock and I listen to a lot of country but for some reason I just love the live metal scene.
Anyhow the point of my comment is to recommend another film, Heavy Metal In Baghdad. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, it was an incredibly moving and thought-provoking piece. Check it out.

meg said...

i'm so incredibly excited about seeing this now.

thanks for sharing your story. reminded me a lot of my brother introducing me to metal and how it opened my eyes up to finding my own music.