Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Metallica Records Its Debut Album in Rochester, NY, May 1983

by Daniel M. Shapiro

The four horsemen flashed the lights
before techs could adjust
the white/black ratio of sky.
In this land of Chuck Mangione,
listening would seldom go easily.

A studio by the name of Music America
knelt behind a green sign with white letters:
The City of Rochester Welcomes You.
Peeling paint nodded its long-haired nod
at the whiplash-quick thrashers from the West.

Even boogaloos had to stutter-step,
cowering in the cool basement
of the 50-years-dead social club.
The drummer insisted his cymbals
rotated from the callused ghosts.

The sweater-vested man enlisted to engineer
had worked the counter at Music Lovers Shoppe,
collected sweaty bills for vinyl at retail price.
He would translate the band’s seek-and-destroy riffs
into the soundtrack of zits that couldn’t be hidden,

zits that shielded braces, speech mid-voice-change,
threadbare denim or faux leather a daily coin flip,
weed-burned fingers contorting into devil horns.
This would be a symphony for the front window,
an opus to unite the lonely at breakneck speed.

Six weeks later, the band would flee for anesthesia,
for all the gloom-free cities. The tightly gripped hammer
would give way to blood, jump in the fire midsummer
to go three times platinum, a discarded mirror
of shrugged-shouldered East Avenue clouds.

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