We’re just as lost as them …

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I spotted this quotation in an interview with Rob Flynn from the Californian thrash metal band Machine Head in the Christmas 2007 (vol 02, issue 06) of the Soundcontrol magazine Reverb:

The four of us need this release of anger just as much as any of those people who come to a Machine Head show. And that’s what I think the bond is. I think that’s where the devotion comes from, that’s where the passion comes from, because we’re just as lost as them.” — Rob Flynn

All caught in a mosh

I remember standing at an Anthrax show in Glasgow a couple of years back and realising just how important gigs are for a lot of folks. I was standing on the edge of a swirling mosh pit in which there were maybe 20-30 young, sweaty guys — some topless — thrashing about to the music.

Here’s what the mighty Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

Moshing refers to the activity in which audience members at live music performances aggressively push or slam into each other. Moshing is frequently accompanied by stage diving, crowd surfing, and headbanging. It is commonly associated with concerts by heavy metal, punk rock, and alternative rock artists.

It looked aggressive. The music sounded aggressive. But, you know, as soon as someone went down there was always someone ready to step in and help him out. As soon as some slammed into you just that little bit too hard there were grins and apologies, and then both parties would step back into the fray.

I remember standing there, observing all of this and realising that this was incredibly healthy. Who knows what kind of crap these folks have to deal with in their every day lives. I know what I’ve had to deal with, and I guess what I still have to deal with. What other outlet is there for folks to healthily release any pent up anger or frustration? At that metal gig they could do just that, and I saw that as something really healthy.

Metallica and philosophy

I’ve just started reading a book called Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain Surgery.

Plato seemingly argues that we should be suspicious of the so-called “imitative arts” as they can “arouse our passions” and “corrupt our moral character”. His student Aristotle (clearly a headbanger … in the good sense!) instead suggested that “the imitative arts … can have a healthy effect on the soul, by purging the individual of destructive emotions” (op cit, p.6).

I remember a few years ago in a conversation with a psychotherapist, Murray, saying that I believed that my listening to metal and extreme genres of music helped to keep me sane during my adolescence, when as well as dealing with the complex task of growing up in the latter decades of the 20th century I had to also come to terms with and live with my father who had a severe brain injury.

What I said to Murray about the music was that it helped because they [meaning the bands] got angry so that I didn’t have to. It was a release, an outlet for my emotions, as well as some kind of absorption of their energy, something to keep me going. In the case of some bands I found their lyrics helpful too (Metallica, Megadeth, for example) as they put into words emotions that I felt. I didn’t feel quite so alone.

When re-reading that quotation from Rob Flynn today, saying “we’re just as lost as them”, I felt sad. Here’s to the lost that they’ll be found.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life!”

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 47 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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