My siblings and I didn’t have many friends in the place we did most of our growing up. The village we lived in wasn’t welcoming to people who weren’t originally from there, and for the several years that we lived there, we were very much shunned for ‘being different.’ The fact our family was alternative didn’t help matter either. We were called martians by kids and adults alike, and even sent poison pen letters. But one day, during the summer holidays, we met two boys our age ‘from down south’ who were visiting their auntie and uncle, and a firm friendship was formed between the six of us.
The only music we had access to at the time was our parents tapes and vinyl, cd’s that came free with cereal, tapes from Woolworths bargain bin or what we recorded off the radio… But the older of the boys had a CD WALKMAN…and with him a bunch of CD’s including Metallica Master of Puppets and a Cradle of Filth CD…I think it was Dusk and Her Embrace. He passed me an earphone and let me listen to tracks from both CD’s. My flesh was suddenly studded with goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck lifted high. And like that, my life changed.
I enjoyed Cradle and would go onto listen to them often, but it was Metallica which became my everything, and I saved up to get my own copy of Master of Puppets. It was the first time I’d been into the record store in our local town and I was so excited when I found the CD, and so proud when I handed over my £15.99 which I babysitted two weeks for. The CD stayed in the player that my sister and I shared for weeks and weeks, until I knew every fucking note, every lyric. The booklet was forever bring flipped through and studied. Every time I pressed repeat to listen again, I would have the same feeling – like a shot of electricity running though my entire body. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that the people who lived around us were (mostly) wankers and hated us. This music gave me a new found strength, a new ‘I’ll take no shit’ attitude. I found I would stick up for myself when I was bullied I can remember becoming more protective over my siblings. I was a changed kid…. Life was better all round.
When I wasn’t absorbed in music, I was at the library and I can remember finding a book about Metallica…I remember clutching it to my chest, almost scared someone would take it from me. After devouring it in a night, I made my Mum take me to the local newsagents where I photocopied every single photo in the book and taped them to the bedroom wall. I can remember feeling devastated when I discovered that Cliff Burton had died years before I encountered the band…I think I even cried.
(I haven’t had much contact with these old friends in ages, but I am still so grateful that they came into my life and the lives of my siblings.)
Sure, I’d had exposure to heavy metal before this from my parents, but the fact that I’d made this discovery was everything to me, and I still feel so passionate about that one album that changed everything and helped shape this person I am today.