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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

To Live Is To Die The Life And Death Of Metallica's Cliff Burton

To Live Is To Die The Life And Death Of Metallica's Cliff Burton - Joel McIver, Kirk Hammett Make no mistake this book will further mythologize Mr. Burton.

Like an inane fan McIver will offer his look on what Metallica would have become if Burton would have survived which is totally uncalled for, not to mention preposterous.

In essence he argues that Metallica would have turned out pretty much the same after Puppets - if not even more "mellow" - because A) Burton had a more versatile taste in music (as opposed to his band mates), B) he had had professional musical training, and because C) Burton was actually sometimes caught saying something - anything - to the press about this or that issue (something he usually avoided for some reason or the other).

Right. Sounds like a fanboy to me.

Yes, Burton took his music seriously. Yes, he even - OMG! - actually studied music. Yes, he listened to more than just NWOBHM. He dug classical music, old school rockers (Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, etc.), and even early R.E.M.

The reader has to assume that James, Lars and Kirk merely listened to metal music because McIver is too indifferent to actually ask them to verify this. I for one do not think that assessment to be entirely or at all valid. But this is how mythologies are of course built.

I feel strongly that latter days chroniclers like nothing better than to portray Cliff as larger than life figure even when most people who actually knew him and spend time with him would describe the man as being very much fun loving down-to-earth kinda guy who didn't take himself seriously at all, who just liked to play some loud music, smoke pot, drop some acid and drink beer with his buddies - and of course read his books and romance the ladies.

He was essentially a hippy who was more or less into "creepy" or just weird stuff, death, horror, zombies, mythologies etc. - just like millions of teenaged guys the world over before and after him.

I'd like to draw parallels with Cliff and Dave Mustaine. They were both self-assertive guys if not adamant and/or borderline obsessive, smarter than average, "older" than their age would imply, who both drew inspiration from variety of musical genres and last but not least who were both motivated if not down-right driven to succeed in life.

Cliff surely in part out of respect for his supportive family and for his deceased older brother in particular, and Dave because he was dealt crappy cards in life from the get go. Mustaine had and probably will always have a life-long trauma that requires him to constantly prove that he is worth something, too, that he can become someone "important", as well.

Dave found family in Metallica - a band he essentially turned from just a daydream into a reality - until he had nothing again - except huge load of bitterness on his shoulders.

The other guys in Metallica knowingly decided Mustaine's fate in the band days - if not weeks - before in full secrecy without giving him a proper chance to even try and mend his ways. What's even worse is that they waited until the very last minute to sack him before his replacement would arrive in town. If that's not a betrayal of epic proportions, I don't know what is. Mustaine felt betrayed by the very same people he called his friends and whom he loved. I would have felt exactly the same had I been in his shoes.

This is the kind of a shame that James and Lars will eventually take to their graves I assume.

I think the only real difference between Cliff and Dave would arise from their outer personalities. Dave was always more extroverted kinda guy - or who probably just figured that by adopting this so-called fuck-off/Mr. Tough Guy attitude, people would more likely leave him be.

I believe that we all develop one or more defense/coping mechanisms in order to not feel as hurt and/or to not be an easy target for others to begin with. Some decide to use their fists (Dave), others to use their tongues (Dave, Lars, Cliff, James). Many decide to use their legs (Lars, James, Kirk), and most just try to become more or less invisible (Kirk, Jason). But again most people probably tend to use what ever method - or combination of methods - they assume would best suit for any particular situation. Some tend give it a thought, others tend to just react. Chances are that if you happen to be intoxicated, you probably mainly react. In vino veritas, as the Romans were fond of saying.

Cliff on the other hand was most likely always a bit more introverted kinda fella. Maybe because he had such a luxury by being the youngest child, coming from a middle-class, supportive family where kids were raised to be so-called free spirits. Dave never really even had a proper family and generally had more or less chaotic upbringing and at times very religious indoctrination, something that James would probably have understood only too well (if they ever spoke about it, and I'm pretty sure they did - if only when intoxicated).

I think in the USA particularly people are quick to label an individual as either shy/reserved/quiet or loud/people-person/happy-go-lucky. I think it's almost never this clear cut case.

Yet once again people tend to see Cliff as shy, James as shy, Hendrix as shy, Cobain as shy, Slash as shy, and yes, even Axl Rose as shy (only to name a few well-known rockers). They are amazed to see how these same people positively come to life on stage as if someone had set them on fire! They are puzzled why they really only seem sociable when they happen to be intoxicated on alcohol, drugs or live performance rush - or all three.

We used to call such folks manic-depressive, now the politically correct term is bipolar. We need to medicalize these people because we can't accept them as showing different aspects what it is to be, nay, feel human. I tend to think that if a person doesn't feel strongly about most things in life, then s/he's mostly not alive at all. YMMV.

In conclusion, Metallica had four guys who all wanted to lead (James, Lars, Cliff and Dave - in no specific order).

Because I'm a nice guy and because I want to believe that most of us are pretty decent folks, I'd like to believe that Dave was "let go" because everyone kinda understood that he had the necessary attitude to make it happen for himself. Both Lars and James were cocky but ultimately wimpy who might never have mustered enough courage to actually play professionally without Dave's and Cliff's contribution and - dare I say it - their stage presence and natural charisma.

At least that's my interpretation, folks. Just some food for thought. I could be totally wrong - though I rarely am. ;)