I would like to preface this post with a couple of comments about Backstory Biernes. First, I am changing the name of this so-called blog to simply, Backstories. As noble as the origin of the original name is, I find Backstories to be both more suitable and more flexible. That brings me to the second comment. Backstories as a category (if you’ve been following thus far) is pretty broad. It is basically “stuff that happened in the past” or more commonly known as history. But it is more than that too. It comes with a smattering of opinion, a dollop of speculation and a smear of analysis. I, as you may know, am not a blogger per se, so I need to frame my writing into something other than “shit I thought of today.” So, Backstories it is.
On with the show.
Backstories #12, Friday, July 24th 2015: Seek and Destroy
Seek and Destroy is one of my favorite (not that I play favorites) songs of all time. From its sharp and sort of bluesy intro to its groovy (I know, how the fuck old am I?) main riff, it is musically perfect if you ask me.
But that’s not what I want to discuss. For today’s backstory, I want to talk about the lyrics and what I think is behind them (or what I would like to be behind them).
Take a moment to search our beloved internut for the song. It’s the one by Metallica. You might have heard of them.
I have to mention that lyrically, this song has the best prologue, preface, foreword ever. After the intro and first round of the main riff, this pricelessly simple and perfectly timed lyric gets me every time.
Best. Lyric. Ever. I know you probably think I’m being facetious at this point. But if you know this song, stick with me. If you don’t, learn it. It’s a classic.
Most of us have probably thought of this song as being some kind of narrative about misspent youth and misdirected violence on a peace-loving community. But there is one lyric toward the end that makes me think otherwise. If you then take my inferred meaning of that lyric and apply it to the rest of them, it sort of fits and can change your entire point of view on the song. I can’t guarantee that your mind will be blown. But then again, I can’t guarantee that you have a mind.
Evil and Insane – Just Another Day in the Life
Let’s get started. After Alright! we’ve got the first verse:
Scannin’ the scene in the city tonight
Lookin’ for you to start up a fight
There’s an evil feeling in our brains
But it’s nothin’ new. You know it drives us insane
I know what you’re thinking. It sounds amateurish, and it probably is. But it’s canon, so fuck you. At first listen, it seems that the narrator is telling his victims that he and his friends are looking to pick a fight with them, and that it’s not the first time. He and his friends are possibly evil and arguably insane. For me, it is far from a foregone conclusion, but I’ll get to that.
Time to Pay for Your Sins
Next up is the refrain, which I will only mention once. ‘Cause, you know, it repeats:
On our way
You will pay
One thousand deaths
Seek and destroy
This refrain is awesome for obvious reasons. It seems grim, and I would agree. But that one line, “You will pay,” already indicated something deeper than violence for kicks. An element of revenge has been added. The narrators’ victims may not be completely innocent.
Justice Is Ugly Sometimes
Next verse – the important one:
There is no escape, and that’s for sure
This is the end. We won’t take any more
Say goodbye to the world you live in
You’ve always been takin’, and now you’re givin’
There it is. I have listened to this song hundreds of times and honestly, I always thought of the last line of this verse to be poorly wrought. But once you get past the cumbersome rhythm behind it, it starts to roll off the tongue. “You’ve always been takin’, and now you’re givin’.”
This verse is decidedly less brutal. And maybe that’s by design. It reveals a reason for the violence. The narrator’s victim(s) have been taking something from him, abusing him, for which he is now getting revenge. Two lines prior, he says enough’s enough, “This is the end. We won’t take anymore.” To me, it sounds like the narrator and his goony friends are not out for a night of kicks.
They are out for revolution.
“Say goodbye to the world you live in,” doesn’t mean say goodbye to the world itself, but say goodbye to the exploitative way you have been living your life until this point. The narrator and his troupe of merry murderers are not destroying things, they are setting things right.
Not All Violence Is Mindless
Apply the above to the following verse as well:
Our brains are on fire with the feeling to kill
And it won’t go away ’til our dreams are fulfilled
There is only one thing on our minds
Don’t try runnin’ away, ’cause you’re the one we will find
Yes, they “dream” about killing, but wouldn’t you if you had been mistreated and downtrodden for so long? Clearly, the narrator’s single-mindedness is sure to backfire in some way. But it’s not a single-mindedness based on senseless killing. It’s self defense.
In this verse, we have the juxtaposition of the terms “brain” and “feeling” for the second time in the song. Brains are not usually associated with feelings. Instead, they are associated with thoughts. The narrator and his jovial band of jackals are not thoughtless. Those feelings are actually thoughts. And the fire they have inside of them? That’s passion.
To wrap this shit up, I say that the song is a veiled expression of the passion and violence that is often necessary for justice, for righting wrongs and making the world a better place.
Thanks for reading. If you liked that craziness, read my short stories. They’re pretty crazy too.