I have a second family. Its name is Metallica.
I’ll forever remember when I went to San Fransisco in September of 2019, to see Metallica play on their home turf with San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra. I’d won the opportunity to buy a ticket because I’m a member of the fan club, and of course I couldn’t pass it up.
Not only because it was a unique opportunity – Metallica’d only played with the SF Symphony Orchestra once before, in 1999, and probably won’t do it again. But also because it was – and is – personal.
When we, the fans, show up at a concert, James Hetfield always refers to us as the “Metallica family”. And yeah, if you’re cynical, only there to be entertained for a single night, or not putting any thought into the meaning of this nomenclature, it’s easy to brush it off as mere acting. A way to make people show up at concerts.
But for many who’ve listened to Metallica for large parts of their lives, including me, Metallica is so much more than just mere entertainment. It is the soundtrack to our lives.
The music has been there through some of our proudest and weakest moments, and resonated with our deepest thoughts, feelings and experiences. So when James calls us “family”, we take it personally.
About a month after I returned from San Fransisco, I received the shocking news that James was going to have to undergo treatment for alcohol addiction again, more than ten years after the first time he’d had to do so. For me it felt like a dad or close relative had suffered a great personal defeat, and I was really sad for several weeks after that.
I shared my feelings with Maria Gusarova, a Metallica-fan I got to know in Moscow. She felt the exact same way. And in many ways she is like a sister to me. I have sisters and brothers all over the world, who’ve tattooed Metallica related imagery on their arms. Or they wear Metallica clothing, to show how much the family means to them.
For us, Metallica is more than just entertainment, more than just music, more than just a band: it is a part of our lives. Our second family, always there to support us when we’re going through hell or lift us up when we’ve reached our goals.
Yesterday the family received confirmation that James was back, looking happy and really healthy. He seemed to enjoy himself and to have fun. For me, that was the best birthday present I could have received.
I shared the picture with Maria, and she felt exactly the same way. When James was in good stead, it felt as though a close relative had just recovered and had overcome a great personal tragedy. We, of course, knew he’d make it through: James is a soldier, and if he, who’s always reminded us to stand up straight when everything is storming around us, wouldn’t be able to make it through, then who would?
None the less, it feels like a huge relief to know that he is doing good.
Thank you James. And thanks, Lars, Kirk and Robert. We love you.
Yours, the Family.