When I was young, my worldview was governed by whatever music I was obsessed with at the time. Some people are defined by the sports they play or the jobs they have. As a teenager, I defined myself by the music I obsessed over. To paraphrase a line from High Fidelity, “Was I defined by the music I loved? Or did I love music because I craved definition?” When I think about it now, it was probably a little bit of both.
“Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”
– Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
When I was 14, I secretly bought Metallica’s Ride the Lightning for no reason other than the album cover looked dangerous. To me, Ride the Lightning marked the last vestige of parental influence in my life. I was growing my hair out, tearing holes in my jeans, and more than anything, I was convinced that Heavy Metal was the only music worth listening to.
One year later, I’m sitting at a bus-stop, loading my waterproof yellow Walkman with a copy of Angel Dust. The song Midlife Crisis started playing and, all of a sudden, Mike Patton is whispering in my ear. Then he’s screaming. Then he’s crooning. I didn’t know any of that was allowed in the same musical genre, let alone the same song. Within four minutes, my indefensible position on top of mount-Metal had crumbled.
So there I was, waiting for a bus. Tiny rebellious holes in my jeans and hair that wasn’t long enough to be metal, but not short enough to be normal. I was as awkward as the music sounded to most people. A rebellious mix of melodies and themes that felt unique in a world that was, all too often, predictable. My personal identity was being redefined and I found comfort in Mike Patton’s company.
I’ve absorbed 20 years of music since first hearing Angel Dust, but Faith No More still manages to make me feel like I know nothing about what music can be.
“Welcome home my friend.”
– Sol Invictus, From the Dead