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.