Although they could not be more different, there are two songs which in mind will be forever entwined:
Mr. Brownstone by Guns ‘n’ Roses, and King Nothing by Metallica.
To me, both songs are synonymous with the same thing:
The deep, delicious groove of a bass guitar.
Just Want One Thing, Just To Play The King
Truth be told, I heard King Nothing before I ever heard Mr. Brownstone. The classic Metallica track from 1996’s Load album was on one of those original heavy metal mixtapes I’ve so often credited with shaping my early musical tastes.
Even then, I knew there was something about the way Jason Newsted dominated that song with a powerful, almost snarling bass line that really appealed to me, and I’ve often credited this song as one of the few that made me want to learn bass myself.
Yet since we’ve already established that, as good as Newsted is on this song, it was actually Duff McKagan and his sex-drenched, four-string swagger that was the biggest factor in my decision to learn bass, musicianship itself actually has very little to do with why I’ve included King Nothing on the list of 52 Songs That Changed My Life.
No, the reason we’re talking about this song today is because it became my soundtrack for the summer of 2000, a summer that was very memorable to me for a number of reasons.
At the start of that summer, I had officially left high school. On the day school finished, I went to hang out at a friend’s house with the few people in our school who listened to heavy metal, including the guy who had originally created those mixtapes that I’ve talked about so many times on this 52 Songs journey.
Whilst there, we listened to music -including King Nothing– and I had my first experience of hanging out with friends and drinking beer.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, as I do with most of that year.
Where’s Your Crown, King Nothing?
Before summer, I had asked for, and received, a King Nothing t-shirt for my birthday.
I loved that t-shirt and wore it everywhere, including on an all-inclusive holiday to Portugal I took with my family.
That holiday changed me, and not just because it was there that we visited a shopping centre where my Dad bought me a copy of the very same Load album which gave us today’s song.
No, it was whilst I was on that holiday that I learned to drink.
I discovered that the bar tenders within the holiday resort were not too picky about ID’ing 16 year-old English kids, and that I could get away with drinking as much as I liked.
So I did, and in the process, I ‘befriended’ a girl whose name I honestly now forget.
Delving deep into my memory banks, I want to say that her name was Gemma, but honestly, I could just as easily be plucking this name out of thin air.
The worst part about me forgetting her name?
This was the girl I lost my virginity to.
Yes, I know, when most people think about their first time, the music they think of is romantic or sex.
Me? I think of King Nothing, a song which, though it didn’t directly change my life, was the soundtrack to several events of that summer which did.
King Nothing by Metallica is the 21st song in my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Mr. Brownstone