Turn the Page – Metallica

I am re-obsessed with this Metallica cover which I first heard a few years after the release of Garage Inc. ‘Turn the Page’ is originally a track by Bob Seger so I am actually writing about two separate artists in this one post. Bob Seger’s brilliant and heartfelt writing makes this a behind the scenes account of a rock star’s life. Metallica’s aggressive take adds the metal edge making it a completely new sound and a much stronger feeling.

The most distinct feature of this track is its vivid and empathy evoking lyrics that powerfully depict the other side of a rock star’s life, the off-stage time when they are vulnerable, affected and human. It throws light on the moments experienced by a rock star, the many women he meets to never meet again, living in vans and driving miles to play his music, encountering judgment and fearing getting ostracized for his appearance. It juxtaposes the two opposite realities- the highs of being on stage, million miles away from the real world, with the lows of that empty space in the van or bed when thoughts and contemplation sneak in. I like how it is written from the rock star’s perspective and switches the narrative from second person to first.

Kirk Hammett’s slide guitar makes the sound much harder than the sax in Seger’s original, making you pay more attention to what’s really going. It also sonically expresses the agonies and the drudgeries along with the highs of being a performer. James Hetfield pours in heaps of passion, anger and strength to the overall emotion of the song transporting the listener then and there, into the body of this rock musician. He adds so much more drama and emphasis as he goes softer in the bridge- for the pause, as he lies in bed with the amplifiers echoing into his head, only to let Kirk Hammett pick it up again in a breathtaking solo. Lars Ulrich’s drums are perfect just as Jason Newsted’s bass: with Metallica it all adds up so perfectly, it’s really hard to say much. It’s really no wonder that they are one of the greatest heavy metal bands to walk on this planet. They are true gods and I can’t now believe my luck to have watched them live in September.

Goosebumps.

Kun Faya Kun – Berklee Indian Ensemble cover

Kun Faya Kun is an epic song to come out of a Bollywood movie.

It is loaded with spiritual Arabic and Hindi/ Urdu lyrics by Irshad Kamil and the legendary A R Rahman has made sure we get transported to a higher place of serenity with the harmonium notes. This song stands out in the Rockstar movie album for which it was composed as it documents a turning point in the protagonist’s emotional and spiritual journey. I never thought it could get better until I heard this amazing cover by the Berklee Indian Ensemble. They performed it at A R Rahman’s felicitation ceremony where he got the honorary doctorate in Music, two years ago, in Boston.

This cover is incredibly beautiful, honest, reverent of the composer and just stunning.

I really don’t know what more to say. The varied male and female voices give this a stunning new edge and truly bring out the true sound of the parts they sing. The introduction of new instruments, like the Oud solo (5:28 to 6:36) adds a new element of authenticity to the Arabic sound without tempering with the original intent.

Above all, the singers belong to different ethnicities and cultures but appear to be totally consumed by the spiritual power of this song. You can see it on their faces, how deeply engrossed they are and they all seem to get the profoundess of this song. They are also having a great time while creating this beautiful version, they are many but one. This gave me goose bumps all the way. I’ll go out a limb here and say that this is better than the original.

Well done people at Berklee College of Music! You deserve more praise than you can ever get.

Image taken from YouTube