art music

Song of the Day: “Heavy Metal Drummer” by Wilco

Something playful is going on here.

On the surface, it’s a song about someone feeling nostalgia for a time in his youth:

I sincerely miss
Those heavy metal bands
We used to go see
On the landing in the summer
She fell in love with the drummer
She fell in love with another…
She fell in love…
I miss the innocence I’ve known,
Playing Kiss covers, beautiful and stoned.

If those are the facts of the song, why is the melody filled with light-hearted pop, drum-machine fills and synthesizer riffs more suitable for the Disney Main Street Electric Parade? Could anything be less heavy metal or Kiss-like?

There are three characters in the song: the narrator, “she” and the drummer(s). The song focuses briefly, repeatedly on ‘she,’ but is mostly in in the first-person singular. The narrator is also in a band and is never able to win her heart. Is that what moves him away from the heavy metal form?

Maybe it’s this: memory is unreliable. What’s dangerous now becomes cute in 30 years.

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