Birth of a Metalhead: The First CD I Ever Bought
by Michele Christopher
FTTW editor Baby Huey steps out of the kitchen to tell us about his first album and his initiation to metal madness.
It was the summer of 1993. I was a 12 year old dork at the local YMCA's summer day camp -- Mom and Dad both worked and my brother (9 at the time) and I were too young to spend the day at home by ourselves. It wasn't such a bad deal. Show up 7:45 or so, sing some songs, run around like artards for a couple of hours. Do some crafts. Have lunch. Walk over to the YMCA's pool and swim for a couple of hours. Have a snack. Run around like artards till the parents show up. Sun, fun, and shitty camp songs. What more could a kid want?
And my misfit's way of life.
That year, I was a "Leader in Training" ... it was like a counselor, only not. Basically, 12 year olds were the oldest kids there that weren't counselors, and you can't put 12 year olds with a bunch of elementary school kids without them tormenting the little buggers. We got assigned a counselor and helped them out every day.
Enter Noah. I don't know how old he was. Hell, I was 12 at the time. He coulda been 14, he coulda been 19. I have no idea. He was a cool cat, and his sister was my age and she was one of the first girls I ever had ... "funny" feelings for. He was the art counselor and due to my (at the time) serious knack for and love of drawing, I got assigned to him.
We'd spend our days prepping arts and crafts for the kiddies then helping them through them. Sometimes, when there were no kids doing class stuff, we'd listen to music. One day, Noah brought in a cassette of Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction and that, as they say, is when things took a turn.
A dark black past in my most valued possession.
At age 12, I didn't really have a musical identity. Save for my 12" LP copy of Thriller, and my recently-torched collection of New Kids on the Block tapes (seriously? Fuck you. I was 7 when they came out. I didn't own any music. Mom was never much of a music hound and we just listened to whatever was on the radio in the car; usually oldies or country. Dad was a total music freak, though. I was raised on Neil Young, and CSN, and Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits. I'm pretty sure I knew the lyrics to "Walk of Life" before I knew the lyrics to "Wheels on the Bus." That being said, I still didn't have a "favorite band."
Hindsight is always 20/20 but looking back it's still a bit fuzzy.
That day changed everything. He fast-forwarded to "Sweating Bullets" and from the first note, I. Was. Hooked. The lyrics, the riffs, and oh my god, the solos. The solos! I had my first eargasm that day. I made him play it over and over and over and over. Over the course of the summer, he brought in Master of Puppets, Back in Black and Vulgar Display of Power (although we had to listen to that on the down-low, the camp peoples didn't allow music with swear words in it).
Speak of mutually assured destruction? Nice Story! Tell it to Reader's Digest!
That Christmas, I got my first CD player. I got a couple of CDs, too, but those didn't count, cause I didn't buy them. Got some lame shit, too. Mostly some Christian rock - Mom was trying to keep me a good Catholic. She didn't know my newly metallic leanings. A few weeks later, I got to go to the mall by myself (a rare treat, indeed) with my Christmas money. I went into Record Town (anyone else remember that godawful chain?) and picked up my copy of Countdown to Extinction with a quickness. I hid the CD from my mom and when she found it a few days later, she just shook her head and said "this music sucks, but it's your money."
Over the next 13 years, that record was a huge influence in what music I listened to, which in turn has been a huge influence on my life. I'm on my third copy of Countdown to Extinction -- the first wore out, and the second was stolen. I can count on two hands the number of CDs that I've actually worn out a copy of. It has defined me as a person.
No, really. Metal made me interested in doing radio in college. I did it for 4 years and got some real leadership experience there. When I interviewed for my current job, the interviewer and I spent most of my interview talking about my experience at the radio station. It's only a small stretch to say that if I hadn't heard Megadeth, I wouldn't be in the job (that I love, by the way) that I'm currently in today.
Kinda weird, huh? What's your musical experience? What was the first album you bought that changed the way you listen to music?
Baby Huey refused to take sides in the Dave Mustaine v. Metallica war.