Music is vital for living

It’s clear to me how important music is in this town.

From the residents who recently advocated to save the Young Street Bridge during a discussion at Aberdeen City Hall, to the hard rockers who played underneath it last week, all in the name of preserving a Kurt Cobain hangout spot and a piece of his sonic inspiration, it’s evident that music has taken center stage again in Aberdeen.

And then there are the building owners downtown who have restored the former Goldberg building in order to bring more “Teen Spirit” to Aberdeen. Their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. In February, when they lit up the building for the first time, at least a couple hundred people showed up to see the building illuminated. The building owners there have also been restoring Cobain’s childhood home to the way it was in the 1970s. Again, it’s to preserve the rich, musical culture for which Aberdeen, and Grays Harbor County, is known. “Come As You Are,” one of Nirvana’s most famous songs, is even on an extension to the welcome sign off U.S. Highway 12.

My love for music is one reason I agreed to drive about 2,400 miles to this town in early fall 2021, because it was the home of Grunge music. I figured music was everywhere. But in my almost year-and-a-half here, save for a few performances at a few of the bars and festivals in town, it hasn’t been.

Hopefully that changes soon, because I know how important music is. It has been essential to my development since 1995 — when I was 7 years old.

My older brothers Mark and Tom blasted music daily from their stereos. Sometimes, I sat in the hallway and listened. They played Metallica, Korn, Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, Tool, Rob Zombie and other metal bands. The music hooked me.

Then, Mark recorded Metallica’s track “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” on a cassette tape for me. I had a yellow Sony Walkman — the technology that preceded CD players, which preceded iPods and iPhones. I was never without that tape player, nor the yellow headphones that came with it. I would play the song, rewind, and then play it again.

My music tastes kept steady throughout childhood, but they’ve branched out — including classic rock, blues and select pop — since then. Music is a huge part of my life. While my parents introduced me to music, it was my brothers’ influence that got me addicted to it.

As long as I can, I use it from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep. It energizes me and it inspires. It’s there to help me concentrate as I write, and as I copy edit. It’s there when I have a bad day at work, or a bad day in general.

And of course, I listen to music to have fun. I also listen to it to walk the streets of Aberdeen. I have about a 20-or-so minute walk from north of Stewart Field to the downtown core. And, after work, I’m almost never without my headphones as I stroll throughout downtown Aberdeen.

The reason I’m writing this column — beyond what’s going on in Aberdeen, is Metallica is about to release its 11th original, studio album — 72 Seasons. And I am so excited for its release.

On Nov. 28, the band released the album’s first single, “Lux Æterna,” which seems to be a call back to their early years when they sang about touring. Then on Jan. 19, the band released its second single “Screaming Suicide,” which happened to be on a day I really needed music. I was pacing around The Daily World office as my niece was undergoing surgery. I needed something to help distress. A new Metallica song was my elixir, as has been the case for decades.

And James Hetfield’s lyrics are powerful. The song talks about suicide as a monster and how you have to confront it to defeat it. And to defeat it, you must speak its name. Suicide itself is a nationwide issue that isn’t going away. Metallica is clearly another source trying to help fight it.

Underneath the Young Street Bridge, there is a personal note written to Cobain that reads “I survived being a teen because of your art.” I believe the statement because Metallica has helped me survive. It isn’t easy to go through life with a speech impediment. It’s even harder to work in a communications field such as journalism.

While the band has released its two other singles — the slower paced “If Darkness Had a Son,” and the thrash metal title track “72 Seasons,” there are eight other songs from the album I haven’t heard. From the reviews I’ve seen, it sounds like it’ll be an album that once I start listening to it in full, I won’t stop.

And last month, I made my nerdiest investment in the band. I bought a movie ticket for this Thursday night in Lakewood to watch the album premiere, which includes showing a music video for each of the album’s 12 tracks. I hope future me is as ecstatic about that purchase today as I was on Thursday, when I felt like a kid on Christmas.

The album was scheduled to release on Friday. Luckily, it’s supposed to be sold locally at The Tangerine Tree. I’ve heard the last eight tracks are very good, though dark. Metallica does amazing work with dark subjects — drug addiction “Master of Puppets,” and nightmares “Enter Sandman” — so I’m all in.

Although the band members are 60 years old or nearing it, they keep ripping new guitar riffs, solos, energetic drumming and bass lines to overpower my speakers. And like in the band’s song “Whiplash,” “We’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ‘cause we’re Metallica,” the same goes for my interest in music.

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at