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Children of Metal

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A Child

A lot of kids grow up listening to pop music like Kelly Clarkson, the Killers, and Beyoncé. But in John Moe's home, the tunes you'll hear are heavy — heavy metal. His kids have found an affinity for bands like Wolfmother and Iron Maiden. John explores his family's musical taste for head-banging rock and tries to answer a question: should he be supportive of his children's appetite for metal?

Notes From Weekend America's John Moe...

Where I grew up, heavy metal was our folk music. It wasn't a matter of whether or not you were a fan of heavy metal. That would be like asking if you were a fan of water or heat. Metal was simply a fact of life. This was in the 80's, after the initial boom of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin but before the glam-metal hair bands like Poison, Whitesnake, and Cinderella.

We listened to a lot of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne's solo material. It was largely British, highly theatrical, unrelentingly macho, and often very angry. And it tended to make us all intense, stressed out, humorless, and prone to fistfights. That music was also all we had since there was very little to do but drive around in your Camaro and listen to it. Maybe get in a fistfight or two.

On the rare occasion I escaped the suburbs and made it up to Seattle, it was often to see a concert. I saw AC/DC on their "For Those About to Rock" tour (complete with cannons) and caught a three dollar "Catch a Rising Star" twin bill concert where Ratt completely obliterated a young New Jersey band called Bon Jovi. But as I entered my junior year of high school, I realized that I was coming to a crossroads in my life. To stay with heavy metal was to probably follow the path trod by other metal fans: low achievement, community college at best, boredom, and sticking around my same suburb. I began to realize that this was perhaps not the way to go.

As I pondered that, I had tickets to a concert at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Twisted Sister opening for Iron Maiden. I went with my friend Jeff and this guy Pete who we barely knew. Before the concert even started, Pete was absolutely smashed on tequila (he was only 16 so that took maybe three sips) and by the time Twisted Sister hit the stage in full metal/clown regalia, Pete was in the same barfing position in which he would remain for the night. And as I watched Twisted Sister prance around the stage, saving "We're Not Gonna Take It" for the encore of course, I thought about what a ridiculous and sad situation it all was. Then when Maiden hit the stage, complete with their screeching and animatronic zombie puppet, that feeling sunk in further. What a scene. In one flash of a moment I realized that I was done with heavy metal forever. I would become something else—a hippy maybe or a mod or a punk rocker, didn't matter&mdaash;but I was done with metal.

So when my own kids developed an interest in metal, it was a bit of a crisis. Still, a parent must teach their children well even if it involves their father's hell. Thing is, after all these years, there's a lot of heavy metal that's really pretty excellent. It doesn't have to be a life sentence of dead end jobs and stoners and Pete throwing up. It can just be music. I'm metal again, just not so heavy.


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