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Sunday Song Lyric:
In 1950, Harper & Brothers published The God that Failed, edited by Richard Crossman, a collection of essays by prominent writers explaining their rejection of Communism. The contributors were all literary giants of their time: Ignazio Siolne, Richard Wright, Arthur Koestler, Louis Fischer, Stephen Spender, and Andre Gide. Each essay chronicled the author's initial commitment to, and eventual turn away from, Communism as a guiding ideology. While most remained men of the Left, they all firmly rejected the Communist ideal. Given the intellectual currents of the time, the book made an important statement and helped fuel the growth of anti-communism among intellectuals. As the New York Herald Tribune commented, the book made "an important contribution to our understanding of Communism in its full dimensions and awful depths."


In 1991, Metallica released the song "The God that Failed" on their self-titled album (sometimes referred to as their "black album"), one of the greatest heavy metal works of all time. Roling Stone called it an "exemplary album of mature but still kickass rock & roll," and that it is. While some long-time fans rejectd the album -- largely for extending the band's musical and lyrical range beyond the territory covered in prior albums (and achieving commercial success) -- it catapulted Metallica to true rock stardom.

Whereas the writers in Crossman's volume targeted Communism, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich trained their sights on Christian Science (if not Christianity as a whole) after Hetfield's mother died of cancer having refused medical treatment due to her religious beliefs. The song is hardly the literary or intellectual equivalent of the essays in The God that Failed , but it does capture the pain and anger of disillusionment suggested by the title, and makes a powerful statement.

Pride you took
Pride you feel
Pride that you felt when you'd kneel
Not the word
Not the love
Not what you thought from above

It feeds
It grows
It clouds all that you will know
Deceit
Deceive
Decide what you believe

I see faith in your eyes
Never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
Broken is the promise, betrayal
The healing hand held back by the deepened nail
Follow the God that failed

Find your peace
Find your say
find the smooth road on your way
Trust you gave
A child to save
Left you cold and him in grave
R:
I'm not sure how many God related songs Metallica has, but I do know that they're responsible for probably the hardest rockin' Passover song ever written, Creeping Death:


Slaves
Hebrews born to serve, to the pharaoh
Heed
To his every word, live in fear
Faith
Of the unknown one, the deliverer
Wait
Something must be done, four hundred years

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born pharaoh son
I'm creeping death

Now
Let my people go, land of Goshen
Go
I will be with thee, bush of fire
Blood
Running red and strong down the nile
Plague
Darkness three days long, hail to fire

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born pharaoh son
I'm creeping death

Die by my hand
I creep across the land
Killing first-born man
Die by my hand
I creep across the land
Killing first-born man

I
Rule the midnight air, the destroyer
Born
I shall soon be there, deadly mass
I
Creep the steps and floor, final darkness
Blood
Lambs blood painted door, I shall pass

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born pharaoh son
I'm creeping death
8.27.2006 8:45pm
fishbane (mail):
They're an interesting band. While they seem to have jumped the shark recently, they had a really good run of surprisingly good music. I don't normally go in for metal, but they were good. Master of Puppets is probably the best metal album ever, for my money. And Ulrich is an amazing drummer.
8.27.2006 8:50pm
bob montgomery:
Ugh. Ulrich is decidedly *not* amazing.

But Metallica is great, at least their earlier stuff, as mentioned, and the black album is fantastic start to finish.
8.28.2006 1:02pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Maybe some people like *religious* Metallica music, but what dreary, depressing, disgusting lyrics. I can imagine a lot better way to live one's life, more cheerful, more optomistic, uplifting than spending even one moment listening to such darkness. What a waste of time.
8.28.2006 1:12pm
Caliban Darklock:
I have to agree with Bob. Ulrich's "amazing" drumming boils down to two factors any idiot can achieve: going REALLY FAST, and having a freaking massive kit. I'm much more impressed when someone can play well on a standard five-piece.

As far as Mary Katherine goes, I'd like to know precisely what you think *you've* accomplished with the time you spent posting the "cheerful", "optimistic", and "uplifting" observation that OUR taste in music is "a waste of time". As far as I can tell, you've only made me (and probably a few others) think you're a pompous, self-righteous, hypocritical jackass. Was that your idea of a productive result?
8.28.2006 3:30pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Mary:

Musicians and songwriters, like all artists, paint from the palate of their lives. And I would suppose that having a close beloved relative die because they refused medical treatment in favor of faith-healing is exactly the sort of thing that would profoundly affect someone, in any number of ways. So it isn't at all surprising that Hetfield-- who has a sort of dark outlook to begin with-- would react the way he did and write a song about the god that failed.

You don't have to like it. (Personally, I consider Metallica one of the great bands of my lifetime and by far the greatest metal band, but I realize this sort of music isn't for everyone.) But to call it "depressing" misses the point. The event Hetfield is singing about is what was depressing. He is just imparting the story.
8.28.2006 4:33pm