Tori’s Corner: Strumming the Strings – Metallica’s “Black” Album

Metallica The Black Album

Released: August 12, 1991

Often times I can watch a movie, listen to a song or album or see a glimpse of something and can be instantly thrown down memory lane. Today we are going to do just that and travel back roughly 22 years to when I was about 11 years old. A few years prior my parents had bought their first home which basically became my childhood home as we had lived in many different apartments or rental houses but this was ours. This is where so many great memories would be formed and of course some crazier ones we won’t mention.

Across the street from our house was a set of duplexes. In one of them lived a teenage boy who I can’t remember his name right now but, for the sake of this blog we will call him “Johnny”. Johnny drove a silverish gray 2 door Honda Civic with a hatch back. On the right side of the rear window was a Metallica sticker. Over the years, teenage life and hormones began to set in and Johnny’s flowing brown hair looked so cool as he flipped it around in the wind while walking to his car. I remember looking out my window each night or day when I heard his music blaring from his car as he came home from work or school. I would kind of do the crouch hide acrobatics we all use when we are trying not to get caught dreaming about the guy next door while peeking out of the blinds and curtains.

The sound, always Metallica, always the black album. Back then we didn’t have the internet so I couldn’t just YouTube it and look songs up until I figured it out. So over time, since I knew he liked Metallica because of the obvious sticker on the window i was able to narrow it down.

Thats when the research started. I wanted to know everything about them because “What if Johnny actually ever decided he was going to talk to me?”. The likelihood of that happening was slim to none but I was certainly going to be prepared. For weeks, ok fine months, I studied Metallica. In my head over and over all day I repeated the same 4 names because if you ever get the chance to impress the guy of your “dreams” you better know at the least first names of the guys in his favorite band. “Lars, Kirk, James and Jason”, “Lars, Kirk, James and Jason” all day long (Jason Newsted was with them at the time). I would even convince my mom to buy me the rock and roll magazines like Hit Parader, Rolling Stone, and Spin at the grocery store (and of course Teen Beat). I knew everything there was about every rock band in the articles on the shelf. Mom would walk around getting groceries either leaving me alone in the isle to read or dragging me along while reading beside her. Growing up those magazine were about the only things I read. I hated books. Heck, I didn’t even like tv all that much and the movies I liked I watched over and over, those I didn’t care for I didn’t pay attention and would be out in space somewhere. Eventually it got to a point in the grocery store mom gave me a budget and a time limit to pick and chose a few magazines I wanted.

I will never forget the first time I got my very own copy of Metallica’s The Black Album. I still have the original copy in mint condition despite the fact its been played thousands of times on loop. There was always something that stuck with me after hearing the songs. Obviously between the ages of 11 and 13, I didn’t have much in the way of life experience to fall back on but the way they told the story in the songs on that album were enough for me. The way the story flowed with the beat of the songs made the whole thing like heaven for me.

This is the one and only album I know every word to every song, its the one album I’ve actually wanted to pick up an instrument and learn to play it just so I could be in a Metallica cover band or to sit at home and just play these songs over and over for the rest of my life. Even to this day, I still want to play the guitar and bass just like they do and beat the hell out of some drums just like Lars. I still feel the same way each and every time I turn this album on as I did when I was 11 years old. I hope that feeling never goes away. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in good or bad, when Enter Sandman comes on I know that until the very last song the world around me is different. I have never wavered in the thought that my favorite song from the album is The Unforgiven. If a song could have been erased by the laser going over the same song over and over this one would have been gone years ago. In fact my original copy stays in its case and hasn’t been played for years, I’ve got back up copies for the every day wear and tear.

Earlier this summer, Scott and I were driving down the road with the windows down through Concord, NH when we pulled up to a light and the guy in the car beside us was playing my song, The Unforgiven. I couldn’t help myself and began to belt it out. I didn’t care if I was the right pitch or how bad I sounded. That feeling struck and the next thing I know we are both singing and rocking out as loud as we could. The guy in the car beside us looked straight ahead, as if he couldn’t hear us, his windows were down so we know he could. He probably laughed his tail off as soon as he got out of sight.

I’ve proposed my dream of actually learning to play the guitar to Scott as soon as we find our forever home. At first, I was concerned he might think I was crazy but he’s used to me at this point. I might not get my dream in performing in a Metallica cover band but I’m definitely going to try. Just wait. I never did have the Metallica conversation with Johnny that I thought I would. In fact, at a neighborhood picnic one summer while he still lived in the duplexes I couldn’t even get up the courage to say one word to him and hung out with the little kids instead.

Album Score: 5/5


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